I don’t normally write fiction, but recently I had the sudden urge to write a short story. This is that story. So make sure you’re sat comfortably, maybe get a hot drink or something- and enjoy.
“It’s called shadow wishing” said Luca, shouting to be heard over the music playing in the bar.
The building it’s self was quite sizable, littered with tables and stalls, but the bar at the front of the room, that Luca was sat at, was quite small compared to the rest of the room. In fact, it was more reminiscent of one of the old German Beer-Halls that they used to have. Luca himself was a slim man, of a medium height, with an un-shaven face, and long greasy black hair. His dress sense was also intriguing. He was wearing a long jacket with a big collar, which one would expect from an intellectual or aristocrat, but not someone in a bar. He was also wearing faded jeans and a pair of dirty light brown boots. He looked, perhaps, like what a man from the future would look like- if he came back from the future, and became homeless. It was hard to put an age on him, as the only sign of aging on his face was the lines around the corner of his eyes. So he may have been 30- or even 40…
“Shadow wishing?” shouted Menson, who was Luca’s company at the bar. Menson was younger than Luca, about 18 or 19. Although he too was unshaven, he was much smarter-looking than Luca. Partly because of his fair hair colour and shorter hair on top. He was also wearing much more low key clothing, just a pair of brown trousers and a plain white cotton button-up shirt with a badge of his region on it. It was important that everyone wore their region’s badge wherever they went, as certain institutions only admitted people from certain regions. “What the hell is shadow wishing?” Inquired Menson over the loud music.
“Well, have you ever looked at something in the dark, or in the distance, and you know what it is but you think it looks like something else?” Asked Luca.
“What are you on about?” Replied Menson.
“Okay, let me rephrase this. You know when you’re in the dark, and you see two books piled on top of each other? You know that they’re two books, but it looks a bit like it could be the box of a new iMac or something? Especially when you’re in the dark, or you’re squinting. Well that my friend, is shadow wishing.”
“What, so it’s just wishing you had things that look like other things in your room?”
“Yeah, pretty much.”
“That’s actually quite lonely.”
“No but it’s not just that! If you really picture something. And I mean in real detail, then you can m-”
Menson interrupted: “You can make it come true.”
“Exactly.” Said Luca, before slumping back on his stool with a sense of accomplishment.
“Go on then, let’s see some real shadow wishing right now.” Said Menson with an air of sarcasm to his voice.
Luca sat upright. “Okay then. You see, um, that table there!” He gestured to an empty table, about three or four meters away from them. “You see that wine glass in front of that beer bottle? When you squint really hard, there could be a cat there couldn’t there?”
“I suppose there could.” Answered Menson.
Luca leaned into the table his eyes fixed into Menson’s: “So squint so you can see the cat, then imagine there was no wine or beer in the first place. You can already see the cat in front of you- your senses need no convincing. It’s just your heart that needs some persuasion.” With that, Menson closed his eyes, rolling his lips into his face as if he were concentrating really hard. Well, he was. “There’s a cat there. Just accept it!” Shouted Luca.
Slowly, Menson opened his eyes and, to his astonishment…
Nothing. Still the same old wine glass and the beer bottle. A smile came across Menson’s face as he looked at Luca and said: “Well, I tried, but I guess your magic doesn’t work in this bar. Maybe we should write to the manager.” Menson began a sarcastic monologue: “Dear Sir or Madam, I tried to use my magic in your bar an-”
Luca interrupted: “But it is basic science, I’m telling you! It’s right there, you can see it. You just need to believe. Hey, what was the colour of the cat, how many whiskers did it have?”
“I dunno, it’s just a cat isn’t it?” Said Menson.
“You see, this is your problem kid! You don’t use your imagination. What colour was it? How many whiskers did it have? Was it missing a god-damn paw? Come on, think big!”
And with that, Menson crossed his hands on the table, leant forward a bit, and closed his eyes as far as he could. He could really see the cat this time: A yellow and brown cat, average sized, with a fury tail. Greenish eyes and a few white spots around it’s nose. Menson wished really hard, then looked up to where the bottle and wine glasses had been. He opened this eyes.
There was nothing on the table.
“Someone must have collected th-” Meson was cut short. He felt something brush his leg, from under the table. He looked under the table, and his mouth was opened wide with amazement. Moving away from the stall under the table was a yellowish brown, average sized cat, with greenish eyes and a bushy tail. Exactly like the cat he had pictured. He smiled, like a kid who had discovered how to whistle for the first time.
“That was a good one Luca, I’ll give you that. You must have like a thousand different breeds of cat back there. But how did you know which one I’d think of?”
“It was all in your imagination kid” said Luca. “I didn’t have any cats. It’s shadow wishing baby.”
“Okay” said Menson, with a grin on his face. Menson, was starting to believe that shadow wishing was real now. But he wasn’t sure weather he was really believing in it, or just playing along excitedly- like a giddy audience member at a magic show on Southbank, or someone at a Scientology meeting. “So when did you discover you could do shadow wishing?” Asked Menson to Luca.
“Well, I was quite young. About four or five. I really loved role play, being a policeman especially. I know it’s police officer, not policeman- but I was young, you know what I mean. But my family were not that well-off, and I never had any of the costume. I always wished I had it, and one day I saw a helmet outside- probably a skateboarder lost it or something. I closed my eyes and imagined it was a policeman’s helmet. And then there it was.”
“That’s a good story” said Menson.
“It’s a true one” replied Luca.
“So I guess you’re a real life superhero then” said Menson with a grin.
“Not really, it’s not exactly superman is it? I mean, yeah, it’s a power- but because of the bright lights, it’s hard to do it out in public, plus you need to concentrate hard- so you couldn’t, say, wish up a samurai sword the moment you see someone getting mugged. There was this one time when things got a bit dangerous though…”
“Go on then, let’s hear about it!”
“Okay, well when I was a bit older, about seven or eight- I got into violence. Not real violence, just TV violence. This isn’t normally a problem but I was young, foolish, and knew how to shadow wish. To cut the story short, someone found me outside playing with a gun. They took it off me, but I imagined it really well. It was an M9 Pistol which I saw on TV. I pictured everything, the trigger, the firing pin, hammer. The only thing I didn’t picture was the ammo. I still pray thanks every day that the gun wasn’t loaded.”
“Oh, um, wow. You got lucky there.”
“It wasn’t luck, it was laziness.” Said Luca. There was a long silence.
“Crap!” Shouted Menson. Dinner was four hours ago.
“Okay, I’m really not liking this now Phelan” said Mara, in a worried and quite assertive tone.
Mara was a middle-aged lady, with middle-length dark hair- which curled at the bottom. She was a very slim woman, and people might even have mistaken her for a much younger woman, if it weren’t for the obvious signs of ageing on her face. She was sat, in a plain white dress (with some flowers on it) and was sat pressed against one side of the sitting room- which was long and rectangular. In fact, everything in the house was polygon shaped- such was the modern taste. Most things were white or cream-colored too, except from a few dark objects- like a magazine on the coffee table in the sitting room, and the black square with a single button on top, which was a 20 minute timer that every home had to have.
“Stop panicking Mara, he’ll be here soon. I know where he’ll be, he’s probably at the Great Hall” said Phelan.
He said the words ‘Great Hall’ sarcastically, as though he was skeptical of how great it really was. Phelan was older than Mara, but still in good shape. He too had dark hair which was long for a man’s, and was combed back in a retro style- that actually worked quite well for him. He wore a brown suit jacket, with a pair of cream trousers. He stayed very calm, calmer than his wife Mara, but still had an air of focus to him. Phelan was sat diagonally across from Mara, so that they could have a serious conversation- and the door to the sitting room was facing both of them.
“Well it’s not that great, is it?” said Mara, in a bitter-sarcastic manor.
“Well no it’s not really” said Phelan in a sarcastic and slightly condescending way. “Listen, when he comes back in I’ll have a word with him. I know you want to talk to him, but just let me have a word with him tonight. Okay? You know what he’s like.” Said Phelan reassuringly.
“Yeah, I do know what he’s like, and I don’t like it. ” Said Mara, who was beginning to get upset.
“Me neither, but we can’t just shout at him, Okay? We have to show hi-”
Mara interrupted: “I don’t just shout! Is that all you think I do?”
“Let me finish. We have to show him how to respect us and show him the consequences if he disobeys us.”
“This is the third time he’s not come home on time this week. But he’s really late this time.” She paused. “I really don’t have a good feeling Phelan.” Said Mara Anxiously.
“STOP WORRYING MARA. He’ll be back soon, and when he does I’ll call him in here.”
Just as Phelan spoke, the sound of the front door slamming shut could be heard. And just as silence fell, Phelan looked at Mara as if to say ‘I told you so’. Some footsteps could be heard, getting closer and closer. Then the door opened and in came Menson, with a slightly dazed look in his eyes. Not so much so that he looked drunk, but as if he’d seen something shocking or amazing.
“Oh, how nice of you to join us.” Said Mara angrily and sarcastically.
“I’m really sorry, I was out with a friend and I completely forgot the time.” Said Menson, quickly and monotonously- like he didn’t really mean it. “It’s okay, I don’t need any food”. Menson then proceeded to make his way to the staircase.
Mara began to shout: “Oh, well that’s okay then. As long as you’re not hungry then there’s no problem!” The sound of footsteps could be heard going up the narrow staircase next to the sitting room, and Phelan looked at Mara as if to say ‘I told you so’, again.
After giving Mara the ‘I told you so’ look, Phelan slowly got up and made his way down the narrow hallway outside the sitting room, and up the long narrow staircase at the end of it. He was about three quarters of the way up the stairs when he began to speak. Menson’s room was right next to the top of the stairs.
“Menson, I know you’re an adult now, trust me- I remember when I was your age. But look, listen: your mother is really worried about you and you’re beginning to upset her.” Phelan spoke in his relaxed but assertive tone again as he reached the top of the stairs. “I was your age once, you know? And I remember I used to go to a place a bit like the Great Hall, that you go to, and I’m not being funny *he laughed in that way that you do when giving someone a talking to* but me and my friends got into some trouble there with another group of people. Look, I know your old-enough to make your own decisions, but I’m telling you Menson- that I’m your father, and there are still things you haven’t seen. And you’re lucky.”
By this point, Phelan was right in front of the bedroom door. Slowly, he opened the door- to reveal a long rectangular room, even longer and thinner than the sitting room. On the walls, there were shelves of books stretching for some of the length of the room, a desk pressed against one of the walls, before getting to the bed at the end- which Menson was stood beside.
Phelan approached him. “Look, son, I know you want to do your own thing. But at the end of the day- we’re your parents, and even though we love you and want you to have a good time- someone’s got to tell you what you can and can’t do. You know?”
Phelan went to put his hand on Menson’s shoulder, but he moved it out of the way. When Phelan looked at Menson, he could see that his eyes were teary, something must have been wrong, Phelan thought. This was unusual for him, maybe something had happened at the hall.
“Is there anything you want to talk about?” Said Phelan.
There was no reply. Phelan put one of his hands on his waist and turned around to gaze at the room, as if he was about to leave. Well, he was. Just as he was pivoting around, he caught a glimpse of something, and his breath was cut short.
In the pencil pot on the shelf opposite his bed, which Phelan was sure had pencils in it until now, were a bunch of what looked like knives. They were thin and almost looked like potato peelers, but those were defiantly blades on them, and they were defiantly knives.
“What in heaven are those Menson? And where did you get them from?” Said Phelan, slightly horrified. He pivoted back to Menson, and when he did, he stopped in his tracks once again. Menson had a knive in his hand.
Phelan didn’t react at first, his eyes widened slightly in horror- but he kept looking Menson in the eye and stayed calm, on the outside at least. On the inside he was in shock. Menson’s eyes had ceased watering, and he was left looking absently into the distance. It was like he was someone else.
“Menson? What are you doing? Put that down and we’ll talk about whatever you want okay?” Said Phelan. “You’re not thinking straight.” Phelan now had a trace of fear in his voice, but was firmly rooted to the spot.
Suddenly, Menson’s gaze fell upon Phelan, as his eyes narrowed and he opened his mouth to speak. There was a time when Menson loved his father. That time wasn’t too long ago, and he would go out and socialise, and go to the hall. But he always knew that he could come home and Phelan would always be there. But in the space of a few hours, times had changed, and the only thoughts that occupied Menson’s head were the endless whinings of his dad and the relentless nagging that made his blood boil.
“No!” Shouted Menson.
Menson charged towards Phelan and pinned him to the wall. Any trace of calm and measure Phelan had was gone and left was a man trembling and shaking with fear – stripped down to this most basic instinct. He made one final plead with Menson, his eyes widening hysterically. But before the next breath, Menson plunged the knive into Phelan’s chest. It was only a single blow, but it was powerful- and Phelan shook slightly before the light faded from his eyes and he fell to the floor. Menson then collapsed to his knees, still vacant from his body.
Menson regained his awareness, and began to scream.
The next day, the house had turned into a crime scene. Police tape littered the house, with small yellow cones pointing towards different objects in taped off areas of the house. Police officers also littered the house, conversing with one another and taking notes. Up in the bedroom that it had happened, a few police gathered, conversing, a few by the bed, and a couple next to the blood stain on the carpet. After a few minutes they all left the room. All but one. The man stayed and looked down at the blood stain. At the same time, he reached into the pocket of his black trousers. Out of it, he pulled out a small knife with a fine blade, just like the one Menson had used. He looked down at the knife in his hands, and smiled gently. And just as he did that, if you squinted very much, then the man could have almost been mistaken for Luca.
“This is even better than I imagined.”