What do you do?

sea of heads

Writer’s diary: 09.05.2014

You’re minding your own business, jotting notes on an A4 pad. A man takes the seat next to you. You don’t know him. He’s sweating, clearly anxious. You can feel the heat of indecision coming off him.

‘Excuse me.’

You ignore him.

‘Excuse me.’

You look up. There are others around but he’s talking to you. Looking at you. What you see in his eyes frightens you. But he does not frighten you. It is his knowledge. He does not look insane but they don’t always.

‘Can I have one piece of paper and borrow something to write with? Please. It’ll take seconds. It’s important.’

You hesitate. You look around at the faces staring in your direction. All strangers to you and to each other. You are the temporary entertainment in the boredom of their routine. You tear off a piece of paper and lend him your pencil because it is easier that way.

He writes on his knee. The pencil goes through the paper and he swears quietly. You pass over your pad for him to lean on. He mumbles a thank you. He doesn’t look up.

You try not to look at what he’s writing. But you see that his hand is shaking. You meet the stares of some of the others. They either look away or stare blankly back. No one smiles.

He has finished.

‘Thank you.’

He hands back your pad and pencil. You breathe out quiet relief and hope that’s it.

You cannot ignore the noise of him folding the paper neatly into four.

Minutes pass.

It’s your stop. You get out. He gets out behind you. You walk. He is matching your pace. There are others around you. You are not properly afraid, yet.

He gets in front of you and blocks your path. He is trying to smile at you but he can’t beat his fear. People are jostling you in their hurry.

There is something in his face. Something genuine. Do you know him? He holds his paper in front of him. He holds it for you to take.

‘Forget your day. Take this paper. Find a policeman. Give it to him. Tell him about me. Make him read it. Make him take it seriously. Lives may depend on it.’

He turns and hurries away. Within seconds you have lost him in the sea of heads.

What do you do?

(Can’t stop. Acer needs me. Time’s ticking. He’s alone, again. Things are bad. And it’s his fault. Failure is not an option.)

16 thoughts on “What do you do?

  1. Crikey Oliver!!! I was starting to hyper-ventilate! For goodness sake finish the book quick … need to know what happens next. I’m already hooked … no need to give me a heart attach LOL!

    • Bee,
      I wish I knew how this is going to end. I fear the worst. I can’t see a way out for him. And the worst thing is, I think he knows it…
      Have a glass of wine and think happy thoughts.
      Best wishes.
      PS Our SP secret is still (incredibly to my mind) a secret. Feeling smug? I am.

      • Better be a way out I want a 3rd book with Acer…you really can’t stop now…he has a long life!!!

      • Dear Somnus
        It’s not going to be easy. I can promise a third but…well let’s just say things are looking decidedly awkward for him. And anyway, would you want him to live with no arms or legs, eating his meals through a straw and wearing diapers?

  2. Oliver

    OMG… I was holding back on buying any of the Acer books because I didn’t want to catch up with your ‘output’. BUT, having just read the above, I’m now off to Amazon to buy all three.

    Thanks

    Jim

    • Thank you, Jim. Glad to have tempted you with that morsel. First two are out but the third is about two weeks off being finished in the first draft, so a few month yet.
      Best wishes.

  3. Weird thing is, this is exactly what happened to me on the 8:20 into Dover on Wednesday. I found a policeman outside the station, handed him the paper and watched his reactions.
    A look of surprise crossed his face as he slowly read out loud “Tell Crimes not to take a dump in the upstairs toilet.”
    Still haven’t got a clue what it was about.

    • My little boy has just popped his head around the door to see why daddy is laughing so hard. Loved it, Paul. Wife won’t be too thrilled when she finds out I also spilt my morning cuppa on the duvet cover. Cheers!

    • Cheers Tin,
      High-definition writing – what a great phrase. Is that one of yours? Never heard it before. Really, that gave me an epiphany moment. I’ve nearly finished the first draft then I have a monster re-write in the first instance. And every single sentence, I’m going to be thinking is this fuzzy or is it high-def writing? You helped me. 🙂

      • Ha awesome – it just came to me as I was typing so unless I’ve subconsciously stolen it from someone I think it’s kosher. Maybe it could be the Channel Noir strapline. Happy to have helped – good luck with the rewrites.

  4. Hi, Oliver,
    Read a book a few months ago with this style of writing and it gripped me from beginning to end. Found the tension could be released when writing in this style. It was also a detective story based up in Glasgow. Would have to trawl through my kindle to find the name of it and the author if anyone’s interested. But can’t wait for the 3rd Acer book. Hope you don’t have to kill him off.
    Your post has left me taut with anticipation.
    Keep on writing.
    Pat.

    • Hi Pat,
      I’m interested. I’d like to read more of that kind of writing because I can learn from it as someone who would like to write like it sometimes. (Not R&M of course.)
      I never know who’s going to die until they’re lying bleeding and broken breathing their last. Mind you, killing Acer could scupper hopes for a Reacherlike’ series.
      Best wishes and thanks for your comment. 🙂

  5. Ok now you have me AGAIN!!! I was holding off too on these but temptation has got too much and going to have to read the first too as well!!! I have loved all your work I have read to date and feel part of something special being able to have such direct contact with the author. Please keep up the great work and thank heavens for ebooks else so many of us would be the poorer for them not knowing your work. My only gripe with ebooks is that despite being “greener” the UK government insists on charging VAT on them!

    • Hi Helen,
      Thanks for you very kind words. I hope that Acer doesn’t disappoint.
      I really appreciate your remarks, especially about the direct contact bit. I genuinely enjoy communicating with my readers and it’s rewarding that you feel the same.
      Sometimes the UK gov has to make you scratch your head, doesn’t it? You think they’d encourage ‘greener’ practices. Anything to make a buck, I suppose.
      Best wishes.

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