This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.
Someone banged on the door.
The noise was excruciating and relentless, like someone beating an iron bell with a crowbar.
Bam! Bam! Bam!
Henry buried his head in his arms and held on. The pain of the sound pulsed against his teeth. White light flashed behind his eyes with every reverberation.
Bam! Bam! Bam!
Just as he was certain the sound would kill him the knocking mercifully stopped, though the memory echoed on.
He drew a calming breath, then carefully pushed himself up from the floor. The pressure in his head exploded with the motion. It felt like someone had a vice locked on his skull and ratcheted it tighter with every movement.
He leaned back against a cold, hard surface. As the clouds grudgingly parted, he shoved the hair back from his face and forced his eyes open. The light pulsed uncomfortably around him in that manic way of cheap fluorescent tubes. He shaded his eyes and waited for the room to come into focus.
The room was the size of a large closet, tiled in a perfect shade of institutional jade. He sat on the floor hugging a dirty toilet with no seat. The floor was a warzone of black and white linoleum squares shimmying manically around him. The sight sent his stomach surging. He closed his eyes against it.
The knocking erupted again. The sound clanged violently through the room.
Gripping the greasy rim of the toilet, he pulled himself forward. The vice twisted a notch tighter against his head. His stomach threatened revolt but thankfully appeared to have no ammunition left to pull it off.
Bam! Bam! Bam!
He wanted to scream, wanted to throw himself through that door and beat the life out of his torturer. But the banging was too intense, too consuming. It sucked the strength from him, drained him of his will.
The knocking ceased as abruptly as it’d arrived, and the relief that new silence brought was epic in scope.
He steadied himself. He willed his stomach into compliance. The smell of vomit was nearly gagging. He hoped it was his own since he was wearing so much of it. It was accompanied by the sour stink of old urine (hopefully not his own), and the choking reek of well-ripened feces (certainly not his own). Altogether, it formed the telltale bouquet of another perfect outing.
The knocking kicked up again. It was downright pissy now. His teeth felt like they were going to burst out of his gums. “It’s occupied already!” he yelled at the door, “Jesus!”
“But I gotta pee!” a small voice cried from the other side.
It was a kid.
“Go find a fucking tree!” he yelled back.
Thank God almighty. The relief felt as intense as coming up for air nearly a moment too late.
He twisted his neck to the tune of crackling vertebrae. The pain mounted the top of his skull and rode the slide all the way down his spine. He wasn’t sure he was man enough to try standing. Of all his suicidal outings, this one was ramping up to be the best one yet.
Still, as much as he was enjoying the Zen of this breathtaking moment, he knew he couldn’t loiter there all day. So he steadied himself against the cold porcelain, and on a count of three, made the move to get up.
The spins threw him back to the safety of the toilet. Not so fast, Henry, his stomach warned, You ain’t going nowhere yet.
He fell back against the cold green tiles. As he waited for his stomach to tire of its tantrum, he gave himself a quick inspection. His right leg was generously painted in dried vomit, which perfectly complimented the stains on his sleeves. He had no socks, though he was still wore one black dress shoe. Strangely, it was missing its laces. His once white shirt was absent its tie and fully untucked. The left sleeve was ripped to the length of his forearm. Thankfully, a silver cufflink kept his wrists secured tidily. All in all, he figured he was perfectly attired for the venue: relaxed but not too sporty, stylish without being pretentious.
As he sat there, a queer sense of urgency seized him. The floor was cold and pitiless, and sitting there felt as uncomfortable as a beating. He needed to move now before he lost the willpower completely. So he braced himself again on the toilet rim, then painfully groped his way to his feet. Once upright, he fell back against the wall and held on while the spinning slowed to a safer velocity.
He was in a four-by-six industrial-style restroom. The green walls were generously covered in petroglyphs à la Sharpie. A thorough investigation of the space revealed no clues as to whereabouts of his missing shoe. He emptied the wastebasket and prospected through the trash. Nothing.
He turned to the sink and cranked up the water. The spigot coughed a few times before releasing a stream that was just a shade less yellow than the water in the toilet. He splashed his face in it anyway. The paper towel dispenser was empty, of course, so he grabbed a spare wad from the spilled trashcan.
As he scrubbed the scabs of vomit from his shirt, he noticed a man staring back at him from the window over the sink. This guy was hideous. His right eye was purple and swollen just enough to give him that much desired rogue visage so vigorously pursued by the dysfunctional adolescent heart throbs in Hollywood these days. His black hair was tangled in ways that seemed to defy gravity. The straight-up Alfalfa lick at the back of his head was an especially creative touch.
He leaned in over the dirty sink. The man in the window did likewise. “Still alive, I see,” he whispered to the man, “Zoe’s not going to be any too happy about that. Where’s your team spirit?”
The man in the mirror scowled.
Henry suddenly felt sick, and it had nothing to do with the hangover. Her face barged its way into his head, the same one in the photos under his TV, the ones with the competition-grade scowls that made him think of that flaming head in the Wizard of Oz: Pay no attention to the dead woman behind the curtain, Henry.
His humor collapsed like a building imploding. The pain in his head doubled in sympathy.
He turned away from the mirror. As he tucked the stiffening shirttails into his pants, he realized his belt was missing. He looked back at the other man. “Jesus Christ!” he said, “Losing a shoe’s one thing, but losing your belt, too? That’s a new low, even for you.”
The pounding on the door resumed. Henry felt the vibrations clear through to his spine. He grabbed his head and yelled, “Piss off already!”
“It’s the manager. Open the door.”
maryahbeebe66: OMG I fell in love with the story and how the characters fall into place. I'm really excited to read more into the story and hope there's a sequel to it. My fav characters are Dylan and Laila. Your doing a great job keep it up 👏🏾
annie08c: I really like this story, I can relate to it a lot and with how she feels, the boyfriend and the events that happened but I'm a little bit younger. It was really good plot, really liked how you stuck to the topic and you had a new title for every chapter making me guess what's going to happen. Ma...
Flik: Hi! ^.^ huge fan of yours on ff.net! When I saw the note about this contest on The Way We Smile, I couldn't help but rush over here, create an account, and vote! XD Seriously love this story and would recommend it to anyone! :D best FT fanfiction out there. Amazing story, amazing concept that wa...
rihannabkj2: Great story,I can hardly stop reading this novel. it shows that compassion and love can still exist after so many years between two persons. I most say well done to the Author who wrote this book. Others should read this book inorder to know that there can still be LOVE among two persons no matt...
kwilliams: I am an avid reader, and I do mean AVID and few indie authors capture my attention the way you have. I absolutely fell in love with these characters and their story. I'm usually not a fan of the cliff hanger endings (be it a series or not), but this one made me download the Kindle app just so I c...
OpheliaJones: This story took a different kind of spin on the "normal girl lives with definitely not normal guy" plot. The plot points of Frey's father, Liam's family, and Frey's view of Liam's world were good to read. She did not fall in love with him in the first couple weeks. Their lives were not smooth in ...
spec4huff: Thank you for creating this world. I am a 6'3" veteran that thinks himself tough. But the piece of literature you have created made me misty eyed on a number of occasions. I want a love like this. Thank you again, I would totally buy this book and hopefully the sequels to this ever enchanting lov...
Grapes Are Juicy yes!!!: I give this novel FIVE STARS ! This novel is worth reading from the beginning to the end! The plot and conflicts in this story are very smartly integrated. The language facility is a little odd , but i guess this was done on purpose, given the novel's set era. Other than that, this should definit...
Jennifer Sibley Jannise: So, I originally read the book because my daughter asked me to. However, I read it in 2 days and thoroughly enjoyed it. It is well written and thought out. If the author writes and publishes any more books, I would definitely read them.
Sandra Estrada: I loved every minute of it and I thank my lucky stars that brought me to the story, it's been a whirlwind of emotions, plot twist after plot twist but I never got tired of them. Abby and Kade's story is a hard one to understand but once you're submerged in their story and love, you can't help but...
Dru83: This is the second or third time I've read this one and I just love it. It has just about everything you could ever want packed into one scifi story. It still has some parts that are a little rough in terms of grammar, punctuation, and word usage, but it's still an awesome story. I love how detai...