So, I considered pitching this new column idea to the Guardian, but after dunking my head in a bucket of cold water a few times, I realised The Black Flag is more my kind of place.
I write as SJI Holliday – I know: Sji is a bit hard to pronounce – so you can call me Sooz. I’m an indie writer, mostly of short stories that I’ve scattered across the internet like a discarded Evening Standard at a bus stop. As well as that, I’m writing a novel about serial killers. Yup – more than one. If you’re interested, you can read it as a raw and unedited work-in-progress at Smashwords, and let’s face it; everyone’s a bit interested in serial killers, aren’t they? If not, then I do write about other stuff too, like flowers possessed by dead mice, a ghost that arrives in a shoebox, and old men with a penchant for taxidermy… that kind of thing.
My plan is to give you some new and exclusive short fiction (of the twisted variety) in each post; might be monthly, might be fortnightly, might be more than that – let’s just see how we all get on, eh? I’ll also give you updates on my novel in progress. It’s called Black Sheep, and I aim to have the complete first draft by the end of this month, and, um… I started it last week. Oh yes…I’m taking part in the ridiculous challenge that is NaNoWriMo – writing a novel in a month. This would be a big enough feat for a full-time, paid-to-write type of writer, but unfortunately I still have to pay the bills some other way – but only until my super-rich octogenarian husband carks it.
Just kidding… (he’s only 75).
We’ll get started with a little extract from Black Sheep. Let’s call it “Preparation”. It’s not long. You’ll have finished it by the time the kettle boils… but hopefully *hopefully* you might want to read more.
* * *
Marston Sythwood sat in his van, watching. The bell had rung ten minutes ago and although most of them had run out of the gates, whooping and swearing, there were still a few stragglers remaining. He’d been watching her for the last few days. She usually came out of the gates last, and more importantly, alone. Every day she did the same thing: looked up and down the length of the street, then pulled out her phone, then looked up and down again. Then she started walking.
It was a nondescript white transit van with dirty number plates and no signage. It wasn’t a van that anyone would notice; that’s why he’d chosen it. He’d bought it off eBay with cash and a fake account. No questions asked.
She hadn’t noticed it.
Her head was down as she walked; looked like she was playing a game on her mobile phone. As she drew level with the van, he opened the door and dropped down on front of her. She jumped, dropping her phone to the ground.
‘Oh gosh, sorry,’ Marston said, already bending down to pick it up for her.
‘It’s ok,’ she mumbled, reaching out her hand to take the phone back. She didn’t look up at him.
Marston acted quickly. With a furtive glance up and down the street, he grabbed her wrist with one hand, using his other to cover her mouth. She struggled for less than ten seconds before going limp. He shoved the handkerchief he’d been carrying into the pocket of his overalls and lifted the girl into the van.
She was small, and she fitted neatly into the footwell. He started up the engine, checked his mirrors, made sure no one was around.
He didn’t have much time: the chloroform would wear off soon.
* * *
That’s it. Told you the kettle wouldn’t have boiled yet. Did you like it? Do you think she’s going to escape? I don’t.
For my next post, I’d like a bit of help from you. I love writing, but sometimes – just sometimes – my ideas dry up a bit. You know, like that toast you left in the toaster too long before you buttered it. I’ve been doing some weekly 100-word fiction on a site called Boxing with Pencils. You get given 3 words, and a week to make something out of it. Have a look at the Poppy Cock Action Winners in the flash fiction pages, look for ‘Dicky Smalls’. You’ll find me.
So, here’s the plan: in the comments section, you give me a few words… or one word… or a brief idea… or a thinly-veiled threat… and I’ll pick one and write a short story. Probably a bit more than 100 words though, depending on where it goes; maybe something long enough for you to read while you drink your coffee. Be as creative as you like. Go crazy. Think to yourself: ‘I bet she can’t write something with the words: plants, bungle and oxycodone, in it.’ You’d be wrong though – I did that yesterday.
Until next time, dear reader: don’t have nightmares.