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Second Always Comes Last: Absence

by Blackwood


Second Always Comes Last:

Absence

48

____________________________

Thursday comes. Shane Chen isn’t at school.

It kind of pisses me off since he made such a big deal out of it. I text him twice during the day with no reply. By the end of the day I decide to just call his phone. He answers.

“Why aren’t you at school?”

“Dude. It’s fine. It’s still on.” Chen’s voice sounds like he’s just been kicked in the nuts.

“What-? This isn’t some sort of drug deal.”

“Yeah I mean. Just come around. 6:30. Gotta go.” He hangs up before the word ‘go’ even has time to resonate. With a bad feeling sitting in my gut, I think of a way to kill time before I head out to his house. There’s no point in going home.

The hours tick by, and I head off at five, giving me a bit of leeway to find his place. I catch the train. Not too many stops compared to my own, and get off where I remember him getting on time and time again. His address leads me to a high apartment building, and then up the stairs nearly to the top. My heart rolls like a snare in my chest. I should have taken the elevator. Dr. Morrison told me to to exert myself.

I press the bell and the door is wrenched open by an angry woman. Her face is the epitome of unfriendliness, and she stares at me although she has never seen a non-Asian person in her life.

“Uh, is Shane there?”

For a moment I think she is going to slam the door on my face, but instead she yells something in Chinese back into the house. She is promptly replaced with a man who I am guessing is Chen’s dad. The doctor. Morrison’s colleague if I remember correctly.

“Are you Shane’s friend?”

“Yes.”

He looks me up and down. Weighing up who his son can be friends with? Or maybe he’s just cautious considering what happened to the last one.

“Shane has been recessively confined to his room all day. Would you know what’s wrong?”

“Let Nazza in.” Chen appeared behind his father, already taller than him. I hear the mother start scolding in Chinese from the back. The father steps aside, letting me pass and Shane beckons me toward him.

“Be nice to your friend. Just don’t stay too late!” I hear his father call after us.

Instead of going to his room, he takes me to a small living room fit with glass double doors that open onto a small balcony that overlooks the immediate city. We take a seat on the couch and he leans forward, elbows on his knees, a pained grin across his face. Everything about him looks wrong. His compressed bad eye was completely red, and his dark grey t-shirt is stained with smears of something I couldn’t tell. Possibly blood.

“What’s up?” I ask.

“Is there a god?”

“Why?”

“Do you believe in God?”

“I was never Christian.”

“Is Sir God?”

I narrow my eyes at him, not sure what he is getting at. “Sir is or saviour, but he isn’t something as feeble as a god. He is a hero.”

“He was our God.” Shane tightens his fists. Red furrows ran across his fingers, as if he had been gripping something extremely tightly.

“If there is any sort of God, I’m going to their hell. I’d rather believe in Sir. I’d rather be a hero. But at the same time I’d rather forget. Forget and be forgotten.”

“Why?” I lower my voice, leaning in. It would be awkward if his parents walk in on this conversation. There is something wrong with Shane.

“I killed him.” He hisses.

“Sir?”

“Daniel. I killed him. I killed my best friend.” Shane heaves himself back, falling into the couch then lurches forward, screaming in agony. His mother pokes her head around the door and starts pointing at something on the floor and scolding in the language I couldn’t understand. I take notice of what she was gesturing at. It was greasy bottle set out on some newspaper. Probably the source of the chemical stench that had be floating around.

“Go away! Just leave us alone for a while.” Shane yells back, in English for my discretion, which I appreciate. Nothing more frustrating than people speaking in something you can’t understand in your presence.

She eventually gives in, receding back to whatever she was doing. Shane winces, leaning in again.

“I-” he coughs. “I killed him. It was me. I took a crossbow. I shot a crossbow in his head. I saw it embed itself in his brain. Then I helped dissect him! My best friend. I deserve any hell a god can give me.”

“What are you saying.” I growl through my teeth, grabbing his arm solidly. I had tried to be understanding with Shane, but he was past my point of breaking. He was threatening the History boys. Shane did not falter at my intimidation.

“You are probably wondering why I called you here today.” He says casually, although he was addressing a group of people. “Let me show you.”

He picks up the bottle and the newspaper and steps toward the balcony doors, beckoning me after him.

“We can’t open this inside.” He assures me. I follow him, my gut telling me to keep my distance, but my rotten brain far too curious to pass it up. He places the bottle on a patio table and leaned back against the doors, sliding them closed behind him.

“Now you see, Nazza. I think you have more to you than Hutcheon does. You’ll make things more interesting with the History boys. So it’s best to leave the club with a strong leader. Your speech the other day made me realise you really have a thirst for risks and dangerous. Have a thirst for trouble.”

“Not really. I just have a thirst to be remembered.”

“You remind me of Sir. Why is it you want to be remembered so badly.”

“Not all of us are going to live as long as others.”

Shane eyes widen. “HAHA. You’re going to kill me Nazza?”

“No. I was talking about myself.”

“Yourself? Are you going to kill yourself? Like Sir? HAHA.”

“I’d live forever if I could. Not all of us have a choice.”

Shane closes his eyes. “Sir had a choice. Daniel didn’t have a choice. I killed him. I killed him with my own hand. And do you know why I killed him?”

“Because you are loyal to Sir and the club and Daniel betrayed us by showing his weakness in the face of a threat.”

“No! NO. I used to think that, but I was lying.” Shane suddenly ducks, grabbing a large steel wrench from underneath the table. I back up, taking a full leap away from the danger, but he isn’t aiming at me. He swings with full force at the handle and lock on the sliding doors, denting it inwards. Eyes wide, I see his parents on the inside, rushing out, waving their arms, yelling. I back up, further away from Shane who continues to smash the black handle.

“I killed him-”

His dad reaches the door and tries to wrench it open, but the damage has made it useless.

“Because I was made to!” Shane has dented the door firmly shut. He glances at me, ignoring the pounding fists of the people on the other side. He drops the wrench.

“I killed him because you made me do it! You. Hutcheon. Beauregard. Darany. CARMEN! You all killed Daniel.”

He rubs his hands together and picks up the bottle, unscrewing the lid. The full stench of something like fuel hits me.

“At first I thought I’d be satisfied when I killed Carmen. I thought it would justify Daniel being gone. It felt good kicking her skull in. But that wasn’t good enough. Killing Carmen didn’t justify Daniels murder. It wasn’t good enough.” He places the bottle back down. He reaches behind himself, grabbing the collar of his T-shirt and pulling it over his head. I hear his mother scream.


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Tue Mar 24, 2015 12:37 am
Morrigan wrote a review...



Hi Blackwood! I'm here to rescue your chapter from the green room.

I noticed that you have a lot of proofreading errors, and that Kyll took care of most of them, so I won't touch on that. I'll give you some general things to look at, though.

In general, your dialogue needs more tags. Several times, I was very confused as to who was saying what. Look back over it and merge paragraphs, add tags, et cetera.

“I-” he coughs. “I killed him. It was me. I took a crossbow. I shot a crossbow in his head. I saw it embed itself in his brain. Then I helped dissect him! My best friend. I deserve any hell a god can give me...

“You are probably wondering why I called you here today.” He says casually, although he was addressing a group of people. “Let me show you.”

His emotion seems to switch really quickly here. I think you need to transition Shane back into being calm. As it is right now, I was jarred by how quickly he went from extremely distressed to casual.

Instead of writing out "HAHA" I suggest you say "he laughed" or "cackled" or something to that effect. It reminded me of a text message the way you are signifying angry laughter right now.

I hope that this review proves useful to you! Happy YWSing!




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Sat Mar 14, 2015 4:40 am
Kale wrote a review...



Hello. It's me again. I'm just going through and trying to clear out old works from the Green Room.

and she stares at me although she has never seen a non-Asian person in her life

"Although" should be "as though".

Sir is or saviour

I'm guessing that the "or" should be "our".

“If there is any sort of God, I’m going to their hell. I’d rather believe in Sir. I’d rather be a hero. But at the same time I’d rather forget. Forget and be forgotten.”

Merging this with the previous paragraph would be a good idea, because right now, it isn't clear who is saying this, and it wasn't until the paragraph after that I realized Shane was the one saying this and not Nazza.

“You are probably wondering why I called you here today.” He says casually, although he was addressing a group of people.

That's a rather abrupt shift in demeanor, and without anything said about how sudden it is. It feels like a non sequitur as a result, and its not the only instance of sudden shifts between ideas and attitudes in this chapter.

Also, another case of "although" being used instead of "as though".

Going back to the non sequiturs, this chapter felt quite choppy overall with how things jumped around. Near the beginning, for example, the bit about should have taken the elevator makes sense after the mention of Nazza's heart racing, but the mention of Dr. Morrison telling Nazza to exercise more does not follow from the elevator. You need a better transition between the elevator and Dr. Morrison's recommendation. Something like having Nazza dismiss his recommendation would work.

Anyways, jumping around in the ideas like that happens a lot in this chapter, and it's something you'll want to look into spotting because all the jumping makes the action hard to follow.

The ending of this chapter felt too abrupt. You could put the "I hear his mother scream." line into its own paragraph to make it feel more drawn out, and that would help make the ending feel less abrupt, but I'd recommend drawing out Shane's actions a bit more so that his taking off his T-shirt is a lot more significant and suspenseful. Drawing things out a bit more near the end will really help the ending of this chapter feel not as rushed as it does right now.





Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.
— Thomas Edison