'Twelve Point Courier' by James Stewart



Two more drops. Wet leaves blew yellowly across the slick road. A billboard promising wanton delights flapped sickly in the wind’s stinging blast. For the eighteenth time that day, the courier checked his watch. Two more drops. A thrill of excitement coursed through his veins. The BBC had read his script. They liked it. His full treatment lay safe and dry in his satchel. His final drop.
Once again, he kicked his compact little scooter into life. It purred. His wife had laughed when he first brought it home. The thing was silly, but he had an odd fondness for it. He thought of it like a faithful hound, no, a Shetland pony. The courier grinned at the thought, as the doughty little machine waded stoutly past yet another London jam. He raised a proud two-fingered salute to the swerving, honking buses.

As he swung through the traffic, the courier’s mind began to fill with doubts. Mentally, he checked off the grammar, the formatting, the voice of his play, line by line. It was perfect, he was sure of it. He couldn’t change a line, even if he wanted to. He wouldn’t. His characters were alive, they wouldn’t let him. Audrey cast him her characteristic admonishing glance, saying nothing. In his head, she was a promising young actress with nothing on her CV but a walk-on line in Sherlock. Blink and you’d miss her. It was love at first sight. He had written the part for her. Nigel’s laconic response belonged only to Martin Freeman. ‘Good luck with that,’ he joked to himself. It was perfect. It would be a hit, and he could give up the courier job for good, and write full time. They could take that holiday.

He played out the scenes in his head, as he had a thousand times before, speaking the lines out loud under his breath, testing the rhythm and cadence, the dip and dive of the drama. In his mind’s eye, Audrey and Nigel lived and breathed, and their perfectly choreographed world of colour went on forever. He did not know exactly at what point they had started telling him what to write, but to him the characters of his play had a life of their own.

He was somewhere close to the end of the second act, Audrey lifting her glittering tear-stained face and telling Nigel that she could never be free, when it happened. The courier didn’t see the cyclist, the taxi, the bus. He didn’t see the tree. He only saw the world spin. For one brief, shard-filled moment, he was back in sodden, wind-swept London.

As he lay broken, with his back to the hard road surface, surrounded by a growing crowd of concerned faces and voices, unable to move, he saw them out of the corner of his eye, page after page, blown aloft and lost on the gathering storm.




FlashFlood is brought to you by National Flash-Fiction Day UK, happening this year on 27th June 2015.
In the build up to the day we have now launched our Micro-Fiction Competition (stories up to 100 words) and also our annual Anthology (stories up to 500 words).  So if you have enjoyed FlashFlood, why not send us your stories?
More information about these and the Day itself available at nationalflashfictionday.co.uk.

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