I'm a middle aged, amateur fiction writer with a passion for sci-fi, thrillers, and comedy. Critiques and comments welcome, but be nice!
"Okay, what do you want?" Said the old man, with the long white beard.
Gavin rubbed his eyes, wet rings ran around them. He blinked, looked up into the wise old man's face and started to cry again.
"Oh dear..." Said the old man, with the big white pointy hat on. "Come on now, you asked for my help, and here I am!" He said with no sympathy in his voice. "You know what you need? A nice big cup of hot tea! Lots of milk, and 2 sugars. Let's go!"
The old man in the white robe slammed his big pointy (white) stick into the ground and walked away. "Come on now, don't dilly dally, me old mucker," he said in a funny and weird accent, different to his voice before.
Gavin hardly understood a word the man was saying, seconds ago he had been sitting on his bed, in his New York apartment, and now, he was here. Wherever 'this' was.
"Come on!" said the old man. He was further away now, taking long and wide confident strides down the street. Well, it wasn't a street, it was more like a road, or a lane, an unpaved one at that. On either side of the 'lane' was a short white picket fence, knee-high. And beyond that on both sides, stretched the most beautiful green grass Gavin had ever seen. The pasture went on to infinity, and above it hung the bluest of blue sky.
Gavin fell to his knees, thudding into the dry earth. The sobbing wouldn't stop, he was drowning in his own sorrow and didn't know why. Gavin had everything, but why was he so sad? He signed onto the NBA straight out of Duke University in North Carolina. And wore number 11 just like his favourite point guard. He was in his second season and he was doing 'A-okay' as his Dad used to say.
"Oh...my god, Dad..." Gavin whaled.
In the distance, the man called. "Come on Gavin! Kettle's boiling!"
Gavin looked up from the ground. A string of combined drool and snot dripped from his face and hit the dirt below him. He did nothing but stare at the man in the distance, happily walking away shouting at him. This made him cry again.
Gavin had women, they threw themselves at him. He had clean, good drugs, he was the fittest man in the NBA. He had cars, he had houses, Yachts. He. Had. It. All. So why was he so sad? He had no reason at all. His Dad died years ago, he grieved and remembers him fondly, but he had mended, and was over it by now. So why was he so sad?
"Are you coming or what?" The man called from a distance.
"Who is this guy?" Gavin thought. And he stood up. His combined snotdrizzle slapped against his bare, hairless chest. He nodded his head down and looked at his mucus-covered Lil Uzi Vert's gold chain, reportedly worth over 100K. "Shiiiit man...that's gross." Gavin started walking towards the old man with the white shoes.
Gavin couldn't see it before, but as he walked, a large white building appeared, covered and crisscrossed with black beams. It looked old. On top of the hay roof, stood a chimney stack with white fluffy smoke billowing from it. Hung above the door was a sign creaking in the breeze. Painted on it, in meticulous detail, was a baby sheep. On it, the words 'The Lamb.' In gold leaf.
As Gavin came closer to the door, he could hear people inside, talking, laughing. A piano was being played in the background. This felt like the most welcoming place he had ever seen. He pushed the door open, the air that floated towards him was filled with a sweet delicious smelling smoke. As he walked through the doorway, a chalkboard sat to the left.
Buy One Fish & Chips
for the price of two &
receive a second
Fish & Chips
Gavin frowned at the spelling mistake and turned the corner. Sitting at the bar was the old man, his big white pointy hat sat next to him on an empty chair. In front of him was a large pint of beer, and next to it another one. The old man pushed it over and gestured with his hand for Gavin to sit down. "Gav! Gavva! Gavnich my brother! Come join me!"
Gavin sat on the stool next to the man and looked at the beer. It was a deep, deep amber, slightly on the side of red, crystal clear. On the top stood a good half-inch of white foam. Gavin had never been a beer man, yes at Duke he used to sink back his fair share of Bud Lights, but as he got older Tequila was his drink of choice, they even named a cocktail after him, somewhere, at some restaurant.
The old man turned and looked at Gavin. Beer foam coated his moustache and he quickly ran his tongue over it. "Well, you took a while, and it was a long walk, so I thought we'd better get a pint in." He smiled. "Drink up!"
"Oh err...yeh, of course," Gavin said as he lifted the pint glass towards his mouth. He didn't know how thirsty he was until he started drinking. He took three very large gulps and licked his lips.
"Wow, that's a good beer. And this place." He said looking around. "It's amazing."
"Yes, I know, it's all mine, you know," said the old man.
"This place? Nice, very cool."
"Not just the pub, the beer, the piano, the fence and the fields...sky. All of it." The old man said the sentence trailing off as he finished it. "So! What do you want?"
"What do I want?" Gavin said, now smiling and about to drink another three gulps.
"Yes, you asked for my help, you were very sad, so here I am. What do you want?" The old man said flippantly.
"Sorry man, I have no idea..." said Gavin as he looked into the man's face. He was a very beautiful man, Gavin was straight as they come, but this old man was very, very, handsome. "Has anyone ever told you, you look like Sean Connery?"
"No, but that's very nice of you to say so." He said back, surprised. "But what did you want?"
"I'm lost man, I have no idea where I am, or who you are, or how I got here. Can you tell me where this..." Gavin gestured around the room again. "Is?"
"What's the last thing you remember before you came here?" the old man said.
"Well, erm, kinda private, but if you must know, I was sitting on my bed, thinking about killing myself."
"Oh, how dreadful, what's wrong with you man? And then what?"
"What do you mean, 'And then what? I was gonna blow my brains out, man." Gavin put his hand in the shape of a gun and put it under his chin.
"And what?" Gavin asked.
"And then what did you...say?"
"I don't remember, something like 'Please God, help me' or something.
"Ah! And there we have it," the old man grinned. His teeth were very white.
"We have what?" Gavin said.
"Me, I'm here. To help. So, what do you want?"
Confused, Gavin frowned. "Wait, you're not saying, you're Him? Are you? And this? This is? Heaven? Gavin practically whispered the last part.
"No, it isn't, but you're close." Said the old man. "I pulled you out before you got to the Heaven part, it was about to get very messy."
"Jesus," Gavin said. 'Oops! sorry... I didn't mean that."
"It's quite alright, that's my name. And His," he said, his eyes almost rolling. "So, I hate to be a bore, but what did you want my help with?"
Gavin stared at the beer, tears welled up in his eyes. He picked up his glass and took four gulps. "It's stupid."
"Probably..." he said.
Gavin sucked in a big breath and chewed the inside of his mouth. "I don't know what I'm supposed to do? I don't know who I am anymore. I thought playing in the NBA would be it, by dream fulfilled, but I'm not. I feel like there's something more. I'm an 'OK' ballplayer, I'm not the best, but I'm not the worst. It's just not good enough though, I feel like I'm meant to be doing something else."
"You are," he agreed.
"I'm meant to be doing something else?"
"Yes, you are, everyone is, well almost everyone. You see I made that place as a bit of an experiment. And only some of you have figured it out and have done what they were destined to do. You just haven't figured your 'thing' out yet."
"I don't understand," Gavin said.
"Well, let's see if I can explain better. Do you remember that fellow, Lee Harvey Whatsits? He saved that president from getting shot? In California?"
"You mean Lee Harvey Oswald, and he shot JFK in Texas." Gavin corrected.
"Oh, you might be right, sorry, timelines and things, I get a little confused sometimes. That might have been one of 'His'." The old man put his hand up against his mouth and then pointed down with his finger. "Anyway, you get my gist, he was there to do something special, he figured it out."
"Murdering JFK was something special?"
"Yes, in a way, it changed the world, for better or worse," he said as he gazed off at something invisible in the distance.
"So are you telling me, I'm about to go shoot the President or something?" Gavin was getting a little irritated, he didn't like where this was going.
"Don't be daft. You're not up to it. You don't have the balls. No, it was something else for you. Do you remember that fellow, Guttenberg? He made that printing press and gave away a bunch of those books about me?"
"I have no idea what you are talking about, if you mean the first time the Bible was printed, that was a long, long time ago."
"Haha, yes that was it. The Bible. And sorry again my friend, timelines, not good," he said tapping his head with his pointed finger. "You buggers lasted a lot longer than the last lot, I can tell you. Anyway, that was his 'thing', not the book, the machine he printed them on, he changed the world as you know it, you know," he smirked.
"OK great, so what's my 'Thing'?" asked Gavin.
"Dodo's?" Gavin's face scrunched into confusion.
"Yes, you can speak with them, talk to them, hold a conversation with them."
Gavin frowned even harder. "Dodo's?"
"Yes, Dodo's," he said, with a smile on his lips, nodding.
"It changes the world! You learn so much from them, especially about the environment, and how they can help, it really is going to be great," he said excitedly, grinning off into the distance.
"But, they are all dead," Gavin said. "The Dodo's are all dead, we learned about them in school that one time, extinct they call it."
"Oh dear...Timelines I'm afraid, so damn confusing. How did they all die? Do you remember?” he said quizzically, eager for the answer.
"We did it, the humans, we killed them all off. Tasted better than chicken apparently."
"I doubt that," he said into his beard. "Stupid bloody humans, if you don't bugger it, you kill it..." He winked at the barman as he said this.
"Another?" the barman said.
"Yes! for me, Gavin was just leaving though," he said.
"I was?" Gavin replied.
"Yes, well I helped you, didn't I? I gave you your purpose, now you'll be happy again!"
"Well yes, but..."
"But what?" He said, "I'm afraid I don't have anything else. Dodo's was your thing, it's not my fault your lot committed genocide, again. Anyway you're OK at that Ballbasket thingy, you'll be fine"
Gavin looked at the bar, then at Him, and then at the beer left in his glass. "Well, I'm not going to leave that," he thought. And drained it in one large, final gulp. His arm wiped his mouth as he looked at Him in the eyes.
"I'll see you out," he said.
Gavin stood up and made his way to the door, and took one last look around. As they did the door opened, and in walked three smaller men, wearing bright coloured clothes, and lamps strapped to their heads. "Hey! Your kind's not allowed in here!" The barman called towards the door, and the three men all moaned, turned around, and left.
"Off you pop then, back the way you came," the old man said to Gavin.
Gavin started his journey back down the lane, bordered by the picket fence, surrounded by the lush green countryside. As he walked he turned back, he was waving at him, a big smile on his face. His big hand flapping from side to side. "Cya, Gav!" he shouted. And then "Byeeeee!"
Gavin woke up on his bed. He felt refreshed, recharged, ready for anything.
"Dodo's?" he thought. He looked at the gun on the bedside table, his face fell into grief and he began to reach out for the pistol.
"Oh! One more thing!" He appeared in the room at the end of the bed. Gavin stood up instantly as if to attention. There seemed to be a long pause before he spoke again.
"Yes erm...you're also allergic to peanuts, deadly in fact! Cya!"
And then, he was gone.
© 2020 Steve Ettridge