*If you arrived here from my “5 by 5” vlog on YouTube, you’ll know all of this already, but, in the extraordinarily likely event that you arrived here by accident whilst looking for something infinitely more interesting… Below are the opening 1000 words (ish) of my first novel, “Regarding Resurrection”. I plan to share this book online, chapter by chapter, once I have a sufficiently large following to make it worthwhile.*
Walter climbed the last of the worn wooden steps and pleaded with the portly chap by the lever, one last time.
‘Nobody likes to be hanged, Mr Lewis. But it’s what we do here.’
This response was of no help to Walter whatsoever, and he shuffled over to the trapdoor.
The Hessian bag being placed over his head was itchy, and stank of sweat and bad breath, which may well have been his own. The biting freshness of toothpaste and the slippery caress of soap had long been absent from his life. The only caress he could look forward to these days was that of “Gums” Jensen; who had recently taken to “snuggling” Walter in the mornings, caring little for his objections.
‘That comfortable, Mr. Lewis?’
The voice came from outside the sweaty bag, as the rope was placed over Walter’s head and the knot tightened behind his right ear. It was an absurd question under the circumstances, but answering in the negative would only buy him a few seconds and Walter just wanted the whole thing over with now. He nodded his head slowly.
It was very quiet in this room. Never like the sort of executions you might see in a film about some eighteenth century folk hero, stepping bravely up to the gallows to the mournful cries of big-breasted women and admiring men. Walter was no hero. And the only person in here with large breasts was the guy in the apron who pulled the lever.
No-one would call at the last minute to stop the execution. No screams of “How will I ever live without you?” emanated from the crowd. There were only three people in the room besides Walter, and one of those was his executioner. The other two could just be heard in the corner, discussing their dissatisfaction with the vending machine in the lunch room.
Walter heard the creak of the large wooden lever that would release the trapdoor, and had just enough time to draw one last breath, before the floor fell away from him. He inhaled deeply – filling his nose with the aroma of stale sweat – and the rope tightened around his neck, marking the end of his short fall with an almost imperceptible, muffled snap. And then it was dark.
He awoke, as always, with his head in a barrel of cold, but very dirty, water before being pulled out by his hair. He looked at the hangman through blurry eyes, and rubbed the back of his neck.
That’s gonna hurt tonight.
The hangman made a tick on his clipboard, ‘Same time next week then, Mr Lewis?’
Walter really hated Fridays.
The walk back to General Population was a long one, but Walter didn’t mind. It was the only time he had to be alone with his thoughts, most of which involved escape. Today though, he walked even more slowly than usual.
Today had been his 1299th date with the hangman and, although not normally superstitious, it seemed to Walter that 1300 was a fairly unlucky number when it came to executions. What had been his crime after all? He was no angel, but he didn’t consider himself up there with murderers and rapists.
Right on cue, he heard the unmistakable sound of “Gums” Jensen, whistling “Dancing Queen”, on his way down the corridor to receive his own weekly punishment.
Walter began to hyperventilate; something he had done sporadically since his teens. It was an unpleasant, panicky sensation which he managed to come to terms with if it happened to strike whilst strolling in the park, thinking about the plummeting price of his shares. But, in an atmosphere where every breath filled your lungs with fire and your nasal passages with the stench of rotting flesh, it was never ideal to be taking more of them than you really needed to.
He ducked into one of the many rooms that lined the dark and rusty steel corridor, and leant against the sticky wall to steady his breathing. Almost immediately, he began to wish he had taken his chances with “Gums”.
An altogether more terrifying, and even more familiar, voice was approaching the door of the room in which Walter had foolishly chosen to hide. Without thinking, he flung open one of the rusty cupboards on the opposite side of the room and jumped inside; closing the door behind him.
Walter’s plans had gone like this his whole life, and seemed destined to do so for his whole death. During his senior year in high school, he had planned to get together with some of his friends and place a firecracker into one of the pans in the girls’ toilets; somehow detonating it at the moment when Alice Gardner, who had refused to sleep with him the previous week, entered and sat down. That he found himself in the faculty toilets, with absolutely no plan at all – and for that matter, no firecracker – was most likely the main reason for his being caught. The reason none of his friends had been caught was partly because everyone knew that this sort of feeble-minded prank was typical of Walter; but mostly because he had no school friends, largely on account of this very annoying habit.
Walter’s impulsive, ill-conceived ideas in school, and later in college, had not left a sufficiently deep impression on his mind or his bank account to dissuade him from doing exactly this sort of thing once he left school. He was determined to succeed in business, by whatever means necessary. He did have an eye for what would make money, but lacked the talent to pursue it. His only friend wisely refused to go along with any of these ideas, and Walter had ultimately looked to someone else for help.
It was exactly that someone, whose voice Walter had correctly identified before ducking into his cupboard full of…
Fluffy toys? Walter examined one that had been digging into his back. It was a weird thing to find in this of all places, but he was more concerned with the arrival of his former business partner.