The Deadlands: The Best-Selling Short Story

A Message From The Author

Hello!

If you're reading this, then thank you. For stumbling across my page and deciding to click read. I really appreciate it - so thank you. 

I wanted to write a quick introduction about The Deadlands. You may see the title and think "best-selling short story? How?" Well, it's true. I swear! I was absolutely delighted to have The Deadlands selected to be included in the horror anthology Twisted 50 Vol.1, as part of 50 writers who contributed to the book. It was one of those moments that come along that say "keep doing this, keep going, you're a writer and people want to read your stories." Sometimes, those moments are all we have as writers and we have to grab them and hold onto them because it keeps us writing even when we think we're no good at it - never stop writing, always keep going.

The most exciting part? Upon release the anthology became a best-seller, topping the Amazon charts and taking the No.1 spot from the absolutely excellent The Bazaar of Bad Dreams by the master storyteller - the one and only Stephen King. Yes, so The Deadlands, really is a best-selling short story. I still can't believe it.

It's very cool and a huge honour to be part of that anthology. For those who haven't read the anthology though, I'm excited to finally have the chance to publish it for everyone and anyone to read. And I hope you do. It's not the traditional zombie apocalypse story, and is a world I would really like to explore. One reader on the Create 50 community did say that this felt like the opening of a novel, or a larger story. Maybe it is, maybe it will be. If you read it and think that you'd like to see more of the world created within and the characters, please do comment and let me know. 

Anyway, that's enough for now. If you've gotten this far, I'd love it if you keep reading. If not, thanks for taking the time to stop by. I hope to write something one day you can't wait to read.

Best,

CP x

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Gordon's mind had already switched to auto-pilot by the time lunch-time came around, his brain numb from the endless stream of paperwork that showed no sign of letting up. No matter how long ago the world had ended, the paperwork never stopped. If it wasn't for the sudden rustle of sandwich wrappers or the tap-tap of stirring spoons, Gordon would have missed the lunch call altogether. Taking the chance, he slid away from his mahogany prison, grabbed his lunch from the drawer, headed over to the window of the office and looked out onto the Deadlands. 

The Deadlands seemed to stretch out forever, far beyond the tall, wired wall of The George Town Sanctuary and the endless stream of dead it played host too. Looking out, Gordon felt strangely captivated by the dead as they shuffled over the dirt, reminding him of a painting his grandmother used to own. It was a portrait of the end of the world; a cracked beauty, life and death blurring together in one brushstroke. The Deadlands were scarily reminiscent of this; the only thing the two lacked in common was the endless stock of  meat, bones and dirt that the picture failed to contain.

Taking a bite of his sandwich, he caught sight of his own reflection and was surprised at how different he looked. His face was drawn, his cheeks, once plump, had made way for what could now pass as a strong jawline and his dark, evenly kept head of hair was now thinning with flecks of grey. The thing that struck him most, however, were his eyes. His mother had always said he had old eyes looking out from young skin but, looking now, it seemed that this mismatched symmetry had evened itself out, his face as old as his eyes once been, a thought that made him force his gaze away from the view and onto the rest of the office and his fellow survivors.

As always, Gordon was the only one wearing a suit, a fact that was met with a great deal of scorn and eye rolling from his colleagues, something that didn't bother him too much anymore. There was a reason he wore the suit. It was the same reason he took two teabags in his tea, and wore an overly long Barbour jacket around the sanctuary no matter what the weather. He did all of these things because it reminded him of his father and this made him feel safe. And safety was the only currency worth having in this new world. At least according to him, a belief that that demonstrated how out of place he was in the safe zone, which came down to one simple fact. He had no right being here. 

The sanctuary wasn't built for the likes of him it was built for the 1%; for those whose names meant something or whose bank account meant more. And Gordon was neither, he was simply a guy who had been dating the daughter of an MP at the time of the outbreak and she refused to go anywhere without him. Reluctantly, her father put Gordon's name on the list and he was welcomed with open arms. That was until the relationship broke down, the apocalypse proving to be far from the aphrodisiac. A couple of years later, and he was well and truly the outcast.

Gordon didn't like the way things were ran here. He didn't like that safety had come down to nothing more than inheritance and he'd made his opinion known several times at the community meetings, before they stopped letting him attend. He was of the view that survival wasn't a birthright and he wanted to open the doors to those still out there fighting for their lives, offering the sanctuary to whomever, no matter their circumstance. In his protestations, he'd made a fair few enemies and the nickname "The Lobbyist". It was only a matter of time before he was thrown out onto the Deadlands and given over to the Shufflers but as long as he was here he'd keep trying to make a change and try his best to make his co-habitants see the wrong in how they were acting, or rather, not acting. 

It wasn't the lack of humility or the indecency of the George Town Suburbanites that bothered him; it was their lack of awareness, self or otherwise. Nothing of the outside world seemed to effect them anymore, the wall separating the sanctuary from the chaos had created a seemingly impenetrable bubble that only Gordon seemed to be on the outside of. There was no shock or horror anymore; there was just the mundane. It was like the world was still turning just as it had been, the dead rising nothing more than a generational shift that had to be acclimated to and another expense to budget for. The apocalypse had become routine and a new way to find entertainment. Last Christmas, for example, Donny (a man who insisted on calling Gordon, "G-Man" and despite everything still only concerned himself with the "3 B's" (Beer, Bitches and Ball Games) had brought into the office a shuffler they had captured, dressed him in full Father Christmas regalia and hung him from the ceiling with a set of Christmas lights, illuminating the swinging corpse like a piñata at a David Lynch party. 

He shuddered at the memory, staring at the spot on the office carpet where the sack of meat and bones had once dripped blood and flesh. And of the poor cleaner (her name may have been Margo) who had been left to clean it up later that same night, and who strayed too close, not realising the Shuffler hadn't been put down but was still very much "alive" and kicking. That had been a dark time, even for the end of the world, and it was standing, hands clasped together and head bowed that Gordon had decided that things needed to change and that he would be the man to do it.

Gordon was so busy thinking about his place in George Town, Donny's Christmas cadavers and the ill-fate of Margo that he didn't realise that a crowd that had gathered around him at the window until he heard them gasp, derailing the train of thought he'd embarked on. It was only then that he realised that something was happening. As he followed the gaze of his colleagues out onto the Deadlands, he started to think that the audience had formed to watch another game of Shuffle-Streak - the rules of which were to run through the Deadlands without a stitch of clothing on and attempt to come back wearing that of a shuffler's – and that was when he saw them.

It was a young family, slap bang in the middle of the Deadlands. There was four of them, the daughter about 16 and her younger brother, no older than 8 or 9, were wedged in between their parents as they slowly made their way across the burned ground, George Town only a few well-placed steps ahead of them. Gordon heart's picked up the pace as he watched them, quickly crossing his fingers and muttering a quick prayer to whatever God was listening.

All work had stopped in the office now as everyone gathered around the window to watch. The family hadn't yet been spotted, moving at a snail's pace. No need to run, no need to rush. The phrase "Slowly Slowly Catchy Monkey" echoed in Gordon's ears as he did his best to ignore his colleagues who, with Donny leading the charge, had started making bets as to whether or not they'd make it across and who'd be the last one standing. The sense of hope that had filled him seconds ago vanished and he felt sick climbing up the back of his throat and was made only worse as he turned back to the window.

In the end, it was the boy that was the last one standing. The thing that Gordon would never forget was that the boy didn't look scared or upset, he just looked lost. Confused. He was probably waiting for his Dad to get back up and lift him the rest of the way or for his sister to get up and tease him for being too slow. Or maybe he was just waiting for his mother to hold him close and tell him everything would be alright. He probably didn't know what was happening as the cloud of corpses floated over and began to shower down on him like dead rain.

The office was silent as they watched the boy being torn apart, the only sound coming from money as it exchanged hands. Everyone went back to work with pockets as empty as their souls. But Gordon stood there for some time in a daze, still staring out of the window as the cloud got up and moved onto their next feed. Memories of the bedtime stories he grew up with came back to him then. The ones where the heroes saved the world and rescued those in danger; he realised that these were just stories after all. War isn't won by bedtime stories, he thought. No, they weren't. The reality was very different. Reality was people betting on a life and watching death as a sport. Reality was that Gordon's plan to change things in George Town had just caused the death of four people.

As Gordon continued to gaze out, he didn't know whether he was grieving the family, the death of his heroic plan or because he was the reason that the family had gotten there in the first place. There was no question that it was because Gordon had leaked the George Town co-ordinates to those beyond the wall that the family had found themselves stranded in the middle of the Deadlands. 

There was no question that, in his foolhardy act of bravery and nobility that when he had sent a message beyond the walls (it was easy, they still had electricity, and wi-fi – what more do they need to survive?) to tell the world that there was a safe place for them and they'd be welcomed with open arms, that he'd just sealed the fate of anyone who would try and brave the Deadlands for the opportunity to enter George Town. 

He thought then of the father he'd just seen torn to shreds and his wasted sacrifice, wishing more than anything that he could trade places with him, away from the world of desk-bound dreamers he lived in and foolish acts of heroism that got people killed.

But instead, Gordon turned away went back to work, his heart weighing heavy as he took his seat, sliding out another form and letting his brain go numb again, telling himself that at least he tried. And that was enough, right?



We've Got More Comedy Coming Your Way - And It Rhymes!

That’s right! You can now read more of my funny poetry, similar to the I Am A Lad poem that was published on BBC The Social!

You can read them here on the website but I’d love it if you could head over to the brilliant Poetizer and check out my profile (click here) where you can follow, read and engage with the poems! It’s a bit like instagram but for Poetry.

The poems will be available on Poetizer first of all before finding it’s way across other platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube). I’m working on something hopefully quite cool and funny to roll this type of content out in a way that’s more interesting and engaging!

So head over to Poetizer and have a read.

Thanks!

Chris x

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The Quest For Perfection (Is A Damn Fine Thing: First Chapter Free!

It’s publication week!

That’s right - my debut novel will be out THIS FRIDAY in both paperback and digital!

I’m excited about finally releasing this book because it’s been a long time in writing.

As a special treat, and to perhaps whet your appetite (or rather, convince you to spend your hard earned cash) here’s the opening of the novel below - for FREE!

You can pre-order the digital version on Amazon here for just £4.99 and the paperback version here - both versions will be available to order on Amazon after Friday 15th February!

So have a read at the opening and hopefully pre-order your copy of the book!

Cheers - Chris.

Foreword from J.P. McNair

 

I’ve tried to tell this story the best I could. There are few people left alive to tell it and those that are don’t want to put their names to paper, nor do they want to put their mind back where it once was. The story of The Fredrick Street Five, The Wells Foundation and the events that took place both close to home on a small Scottish and simultaneously far away are mostly unknown. Until now. What follows, is the truth, or as much of the truth as I could muster. Usually, when writing a story based on a real event involving real people, it’s a lot easier. Survivors will talk to you. Information is, if not easy to find, at least it’s there to find. Not this. For a story of this horror, tragedy and sheer human cruelty I would have hoped I wouldn’t have to imagine it so much. I would have hoped I wouldn’t have had to write so much. But the information was scant, those left alive even fewer. But I’ve done my best with the few interviews I managed to undertake, the slim writings on The Wells Foundation, newspaper clippings, extracts from essays and articles. But of course, much of the story appears as written like a book of fiction. I hope this doesn’t detract from the truth too much. I had to fill in the blanks with the information I had. Events may not have played out exactly as this, but it will be as close as we will ever get to the truth of this quiet horror. And I hope you find the truth in here as I did. 

 

  •    J.P. McNair, Journalist and Author of The Fredrick Street Experiments 


Transcript of Interview with Sarah Barr. August 25, 2015. Conducted by J.P. McNair.

I had approached Ms Barr several times for an interview to discuss what she remembers of Fredrick Street. Several times she rejected. The other survivor has all but fallen off the face of the earth. Without an interview with Ms Barr, the project is dead. Without her, I have nothing substantial and this may as well be a work of fiction – and will probably be seen as such. 

I was persistent though and finally, she agreed to meet with me and tell not only her story, but the story of the others, as much as she could.  None of the court records after the incident are public record. The record details everything from the Fredrick Street Five, Dr Tom and Isabel Archer, Ray Samson, Harold Wells & The Wells Foundation. If I want to piece together the events, and what happened, Sarah Barr is my only hope. I approachedthe interview with great caution. She lives alone, in a bungalow in a quiet and sleepy Scottish town, with views out onto the river that runs between here and Glasgow. 

When I visit for the interview, one look at her tells me she’s been through a lot; it looks like she’s lived life twice over. Her hair is slightly frayed and her is skin taught, yellowing ever so slightly through years of misuse. Whether it be self-inflicted or as a result of what happened, I don’t know. Not yet, at least. She offers me a cup of tea. The china jingles on the saucer as she brings it to me shakily. When she sits down, she tries hard to smile.

 

Are you nervous?

 

She nodded. “A little.”

 

Don’t be. I won’t push you to tell me anything you don’t want to.

 

“OK.”

 

Can I start by asking why you finally agreed to meet me?

 

She thought for a minute before answering. “I guess, I hope, when I tell you the story of what happened, then it might help me to forget.”

 

How much do you remember?

 

 The question seems to elicit a shiver. “Of what happened to me? Everything. The rest, I know from what I read in the media coverage, after, and from what I heard during the trial. Will that be enough?”

 

Yes, of course

 

Then she caught me off guard by asking a question herself.

“Why do you want to tell this story?”

 

I had to approach this answer carefully. It was a question I was often asked by the people I interviewed for my books, particularly as I wasn’t a journalist, and the way I tell my stories are framed as fiction. Most of the time, my subjects are just happy to get their story out there, but on the rare occasion, they’re concerned that people won’t believe it because it’s listed as being Based On A True Story. 

 

When I was initially forwarded the story of Fredrick Street and The Wells Foundation, I was sceptical myself.After I read more about what had happened though, the inherent tragedy and trauma apparent within the events that transpired, I wasgripped and appalled. I felt the story deserved to be told and to be told to as many people as possible. Not everyone is interested in the truth, unless it’s dressed up in fiction. And what happened to you and to everyone else, deserves to be told.

 

She didn’t say much after that. She simply nodded.

 

I didn’t want to get my hopes up too much and was concerned that perhaps the fictional manner in which I write my stories may make her uncomfortable. I have spent years pursuing this particular story and didn’t want to let the opportunity I now had slip away. 

 

If it makes you feel better, I plan to include within the book excerpts of our conversations, something I have not done before,to cement the fact that what people are about to read is a true storyWould that be OK?

 

She nodded again and seemed happy with the offer. 

We sat for a few moments, drinking tea and looking out onto the view. I observed Sarah closely, trying to form my first question carefully. It was she, though, who broke the silence first, fixing me with a steely gaze. 

 

“Where do you want me to start?” 

 

From the beginning.

 

I took out my pen, and started writing. 

 

I

 

The Strangeness Of Fredrick Street


1

For the residents of Fredrick Street, life was just perfect and just perfect was just so. Everyday, they woke how they wished and worked where they had always dreamed of working. Everyday, they lay with whom they loved and slept like a baby in the womb. Everyday, they were exactly the person they had always wanted to be. Life was nirvana and nirvana was life as the hours rolled on by like tumbleweed on a dusty desert track. Everyday felt like the day before and that, to the small community of Fredrick Street, was sheer perfection. They each had the life of a snake charmer with an eternity of missed bites.

                                                                                                                    

It was flawless.

 

So flawless, in fact, that they didn’t notice what was going on around them. They didn’t notice that the lights in some of the houses on the street hadn’t been switched on in months, some of them close to a year. They didn’t notice that each night they dreamed a similar dream and woke with no memory of what they’d seen and of where they came from. They didn’t notice real life as it passed them by, because they were living their best one.

 

Each day and each night however, they were watched. They were watched by a man who dreamed of nothing more than living his perfect life. This man knew more about them than each knew of them knew about themselves. This man had a job to do – one he hadn’t quite been able to bring himself to do yet. For as he watched, unseen, by the residents of Fredrick Street who were hiding secrets even they never knew they had, this man wanted nothing more or less than what the residents of the street had. He longed to be able to stay in bed a little longer and watch his partner sleep with her grumpy frown and her leg draped over his. He wanted to check on his sleeping angel of a daughter after he tucked her in goodnight with a bedtime story. He wished he could surprise his girls with a duvet day on the couch or a trip away to the place of their dreams. But that’s all they were, to him. Dreams. Wishes. For they would no longer come to pass – his life was not lived like the people he had been watching. He knew the tragedy of real life. 

 

As he watched Sarah with her beautiful kids and athlete in training body, Kim with her movie star career and baby on the way, Kim’s husband Mark with a surgical career to rival any, Jessica with her simultaneous popularity and burgeoning academic career and Albert Molineaux with his wife of 60 years, this man wondered if these people had any idea what lay ahead of them, or indeed, behind them. When they started to remember, that’s when the problems would begin. When he started to make them look a little closer at the life around them in their sweet little cul-de-sac, that’s when everything may fall apart. It’s not that he, The Watcher, wanted them not to be happy – it was just the way it was. And the job he had come here to do.

 

For the residents of Fredrick Street, life was just perfect and just perfect was just so. 

 

 

Unfortunately, the world had other plans.

 

 

 

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Pre-Order: The Quest For Perfection (Is A Damn Fine Thing) Paperback

Released Feb 15th 2019

Pre-order the debut novel from Chris Patrick now!

We’re excited to release this thrilling mystery by author (and PickPocket Media creator) Chris Patrick which he describes as a Desperate Housewives if it was written by Michael Crichton.

Author Chris Patrick says, "The best way to describe this book really is that it’s mystery-thriller in three parts. I think there’s a bunch of different influences in the book from Stephen King to Tom Perrotta, two of my favourite authors, which combines to tell a good story. I often describe it as If Michael Crichton wrote a story in the suburban worlds created by Tom Perrotta, then you’re close to what The Quest For Perfection (Is A Damn Fine Thing) is like. It’s equal parts The Andromeda Strain and Little Children. It’s Jurassic Park meets The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin. It’s Under The Dome meets This One Is Mine by Maria Semple. 

There’s also a lot of TV influences to the novel also. “I love TV and I think that comes through in the book. There’s nods to shows like Lost & Desperate Housewives in there. It’s an ensemble cast of characters in the book and each chapter moves the story on in their eyes. If Michael Crichton or Stephen King wrote an episode of Desperate Housewives this would probably be the result!”

The good news also is that it’s not a massive novel, something that’s a result of the author’s background in short stories and short plays. “I love the short format, particularly in this day and age where everything happens so quickly, there’s loads of stuff out there to read, watch or listen to, and not everyone has the time to sit down and read a massive novel. I think brevity is key and if you can tell a really good story in a short space of time then the better - it’s a bigger advantage these days. One of the things I wanted to do with this novel was start off with the nice slow novelistic build up and as it progresses the pace ramps up to a big climax. It starts off as one thing and ends very differently.”

The novel is released through PickPocket Media (formerly Toasted Fiction) by Patrick on Feb 15th 2019. For more info, read the official synopsis below and pre-order here!

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For the residents of Fredrick street, life is just perfect in their small community. They have everything they ever wanted and more.

Sarah has the family and the body she has always wanted while Jessica is a popular high school kid with grades as high as her popularity. Albert is retired with his wife of 60 years. Mark is one of the world’s best surgeons and his wife Kim, with her A-List movie start career, is expecting their first child. They have absolutely everything they ever wanted and live on the street with the kind of houses they dreamed of when they were little kids.

Until the visions start and the memories that don't belong to them are remembered.

For the residents of Fredrick Street, life is just perfect and just perfect is just so. 

Unfortunately, the world has other plans.

Pick Our Pocket: Read Rocket Man Prologue Free

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If you follow the blog or the stuff I write, then you’ll know I put out a new short story called Rocket Man, which is one story I’ve written that I really love. It would be great to get as many people to read it as possible. So in an attempt to do just that, here is the first part of the story. Have a read and if you like, get your copy of the story below.

Enjoy — CP

Prologue

“I count the stars some times too,” she said.

      It was Diane, Matt’s crazy chain-smoking neighbor. She was standing at her fence, looking up at the night sky. He wasn’t in the mood for company, this was why he came out here, away from the black veiled tears and the crying strangers that had gathered in his house, stinking up his carpets with grief and stealing the now-stale food from his kitchen. Diane had always been kind whenever they had passed each other on their street; she didn’t say much and said just enough, making her the perfect neighbour in Matt’s eyes. Lisa had always liked her too. She said Diane made her feel like she was a heartbeat away from the Swinging Sixties, with a hippy for a neighbor – a neighbor that, on occasion, had more flowers in her hair than in a well-kept flower bed.

      Looking at her now, Matt realized what Lisa had meant; the way Diane dressed was like nothing in this world, never mind this era. She wore an Indian-style long dress that was brightly coloured, with a rainbow bull’s eye in the middle and a pair of sandals that looked like they were made of wicker. Her hair was wiry and frayed; like she’d perhaps stuck her fingers in a socket and liked the way it set off her eccentricity. He realized that he’d been staring at her without saying anything for nearly a minute now, the silence stretching between them like a kid ready to fire an elastic band at his least favorite teacher. He looked up at the stars again and let their glare rain down on them both. She didn’t seem to mind the silence, which was good, because he wasn’t much in the mood for talking. 

After a few last draws on the smoldering cigarette, she stubbed it out on her side of the fence like it were a knee high ashtray and took out the pack for a next go round. She looked toward Matt. “You smoke?”

He smiled. “Not since I used the bike shed to shield the lighter from the wind.” 

“Take one now, you look like you need it.”

He took one from the packet and she smiled, the wrinkles smiling with her, and the nicotine yellow teeth dazzled Matt like a row of tiny, fading suns. Matt lit up from her light and took a deep draw, careful not to cough up his first intake. No matter how old you got, you never quite shook that urge not to lose face when smoking a cigarette and always wanted to look cool besides. The smoke hit the back of his throat and wormed it’s way down into his lungs and he felt 15 again sneaking a cigarette away from his parents, his teachers and playing the Fonz in front of his friends. Although, now he thought of it, he was never sure whether the Fonz actually smoked a cigarette. Just seemed like everyone who wore a leather jacket in those days did. He blew out the smoke, clouding the night sky for a split second and smiled. It was just like riding a bike. “I’ve not done that in a while.”

Diane, already halfway through her own, smiled. “It’s never too late to start a bad habit.” At this, Matt laughed and took another draw. The two perfect strangers smoking in silence on a nippy November night. 

      “How’s little Tommy holding up?” she asked. Not taking her eyes away from the smoke rings and the stars. 

“He’ll be OK.” 

“And you?” 

It took Matt a little longer to respond this time. And when he did, he wasn’t sure he believed the answer. “I guess I’ll be too.”

Diane nodded then, and stubbed out her cigarette. But before she could turn back inside, Matt stopped her. “Diane?”

“Uh-huh?”

      “Before. When you said you count the stars. What did you mean?

“What did I mean?”

“Yeah.”

She smiled and reached her hand over the fence and gave Matt’s a little squeeze.  “I want to make sure my family’s got plenty of friends up there too.” And with that, she patted Matt on the shoulder and disappeared like a ghost into her own house.

      Matt sat there a few moments letting her words sink in. How could she possibly know? A few months before it happened, he and Lisa had been sitting on the porch as he was now and looking up at the stars. She was nagging him for neglecting the telescope she had bought him for this 40thto which he’d promise he would use and soon. According to the box you could see onto the face of planets, moons and stars. “You never know. You could be the first man to find life on other planets. Just like you always wanted,” she had teased. 

      “This your plan all along? To get me back to work?” he laughed. She just wrinkled her nose and smiled but he knew there was some truth to it. She’d been so angry when he’d left his job that she called is bosses at NASA and tried to get them to take him back. But, as Matt had told them (he had some pull their being one of their chief engineers – a literal rocket scientist) they were in no way to listen to her even if they wanted to bring him back to the space programme or make her happy. Leaving the space agency had been one of the tougher decisions (it had been his dream as a child) but the time it had given him with Lisa and Tommy was more than any project, build or mission could give. 

They had been out there for an hour now and he was worried she was getting too cold. As if to ease his fears she brought her cardigan close over her shoulders and leaned into him, never once looking away from the night sky. 

      “You’re thinking about what happens.” she said. “Next. After.”

It was true; he did little but these days. Lisa always knew what he was thinking before he did. He didn’t respond, just held her close. 

      “It’s OK to talk about it. You won’t have much chance to talk with me after so you may as well use up the air between us now.”

He looked at her. The way she kept her humour, dark and brittle as it was at times, never ceased to amaze him. She looked up at him, the blue in her eyes still sparkling despite all that was going on behind them. Finally he relented. “What do you think happens? Next.”

      She snuggled in and pointed to the stars. “I think we go up into the sky and join the stars. Why do you think there are so many?” 

      That was the last conversation they had had when it was just them; they way they had been forever before. The last time Lisa had a good day and the last time they sat out together looking at the night sky. He stubbed his own cigarette out and made his way back inside. He figured Diane must have overheard them talking that night. Whether she was being cruel or kind he hadn’t decided. Although, after what would happen next, he wouldn’t pay a second thought to his neighbour’s motives, whether it was a cruel trick or a kind word wouldn’t matter. That conversation beneath the stars, smoke and silence swirling between them both, wouldn’t even fall on Matt’s radar again. Not after what was about to happen. Not after Matt saw it. 

Just days after Lisa had left Matt, Tommy and the rest of their family and friends behind for a life amongst the stars and just days after this quiet conversation between two strangers, everything was about to change for Matt, Tommy and everyone in the town that Lisa had departed. Just days after Matt believed he’d lost everything; he thought he’d found something again. No, this conversation, and any that followed wouldn’t matter to Matt. 

Not after the night he saw the face in the sky.



Rocket Man
By Christopher Patrick