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The Killing of Graham Byrne.

Short story By: Jonathan McQuillan

A story about writing itself.

No one was harmed in the writing of this story ... honest :)

Submitted:Apr 15, 2013    Reads: 130    Comments: 15    Likes: 10   


It's strange. I call myself a writer, I introduce myself as a writer but I've never written anything in my life, well, nothing of anything of great significance. You see everything that I've 'written' I've typed. I am a typer but I would never introduce myself as a typist - despite its validity. It would give people the wrong impression; they would think of me as being a boring office clerical worker when in fact I'm an illustrious story teller.

Now I would love to be able to introduce myself as a story teller. It conveys such an incredible image in my mind. Like the court jesters of old announcing their stories of alluring adventure and worrisome woe to entertain the brutal medieval kings that history won't let us forget.

Alas I'm doomed to be simply a writer when literally speaking I'm not.

We live in a world in which everybody has something to say but only a few are prepared to listen. As I write all this nonsense now I might as well speak to my dog for all it's going to get me.

Anyway I shall type out this story for you as it is a tale of my love for this art and what I am willing to go through for it. By the end of this tale you will grow to despise me but I care not a jot as I only do what I feel is necessary to excel in my art of the written word.

I might not be able to transform an empty canvas to a beautiful portrait to treat the eye, however I will attempt to type words onto a blank screen to treat the mind.

For the time being I shall tell this story. Hopefully I manage to catch one of the few out there who are prepared to listen.

Is there anybody out there?

Part I

This story begins the way all stories do, with a blank page. I sat there my dear reader, sat there and stared at my screen willing wonderful words to divinely dance directly onto the monitor before me. I simply could not muster the creativity to do anything that particular morning. I lay on my couch in despair.

I have written many things before, things that I often consider being mediocre. They're okay but they're not great and certainly nothing special. Tales of supernatural entities, stories of great human suffering and prose of incredible sickness are the kind of thing I would tend to dabble in. I frequently go over them and notice there is almost something missing. You don't have to read much of my writings to notice I tend to write about the dark and mysterious, I do so because at some level it appeals to me greatly … for which reason I'm not exactly sure.

However they all lack the authenticity they so desperately deserve. As much as I love to write stories of mythical madness ... I have no time for it in the real world away from my screen. You see I'm far too much of a rational disposition to communicate any of my stories about monsters and ghosts convincingly with sheer belief and sincerity. How can I when I know they can't exist. How can I write about a dark phantom when I've never seen one? Sure imagination would help but like I said - my rationality is a cage, preventing my mind from running free.

So here I am now, staring at this bothersome blank screen. I had only one thing to go on as far as ideas went that morning, I say idea - it was one word. Death.

I find death a fascinating topic to write about. It's a mystery of our existence that I find truly enthralling. You can talk about the afterlife all you want; the hard truth is that there isn't one.

I honestly have nothing against having faith, however when the time comes we are all going to be equally inexistent.

But it still begs to wonder of what happens to the mind after death. Do your memories stay inside your head like a diary inside a locked box, unable to be opened? Or does it just shrivel away in the air like scribblings on a burnt piece of paper, never to be retrieved. I simply do not know and I will never know until I find out for myself one day, I can not prevent it … we can not prevent it, and that is what I find fascinating.

So death was on my mind as I sat there swiveling around in my chair, playfully sipping my tea and trying not to burn my useless tongue … I did.

For the first hour I wrote and deleted several attempts of a story. Writing a story about death is hardly original I know. However there were so many factors that enter my mind when I thought it. How would it come about? Murder, illness, accidental … murder seems ripe for a story but then that comes with factors of its own volition.

I set out that morning to write a story in which someone would die. It would chronicle his/her day leading up to it before he/she unwittingly met his fate, how his/her random actions and reactions led him/her the position of their life being ended. It would be the greatest thing I would ever write. It would be so descriptive and perfect; it would display incredible discontented emotions to you my reader, and to me the creator, I will finally have something that I can be truly proud of.

That morning I set out to write the perfect story about death, by the end of the week I had become it.

Part II

Once I got started it was all going surprisingly well. I had introduced my main character, a man named Graham Byrne; I set the tone and planned out almost everything. Although there was one problem I had with what I was writing. I read it, reread it and rewrote the story to perfection up to the point I stalled. The most important part of the narrative wasn't lighting me up whenever I attempted to flick the switch of the story. As much I tried to write it, I simply could not write about killing Graham Byrne - well not with any convincing conviction at least. It ate away at me at first, how can I not write this? I have already stated I lack imagination but honestly, how can one write about what they do not truly know or have experienced.

Like I said before, my writing lacks authenticity. I can't suddenly grow an imagination; I can't become this talented person overnight that has the ability to do great things. Oh I tell you now my faithful reader I could have killed to get this story right!

And that is when it stuck me. Of course, it was so simple. The reason I can't write a story about an alluring ghost or a tale set in a dystopian future is because I can never experience them myself. However it is very possible in the realms of reality for me to gain my words by committing this, albeit an atrocious act, to find the inspiration I needed for my art.

Many people commit unbelievable sacrifice for their art, why can't I do the same. I honestly saw nothing wrong in it, it made so much sense. It was ideal. If I wanted to create the perfect tale about murder and death, I would have to commit the perfect murder myself and flaunt it in front of death himself, only then would I be able to take my art to a new level.

Yes I know it's madness but if I want to finally be able to create that true tale of demise with the severe melancholic overtones that I so deeply desire, I must be able write with sheer sincerity and elegant experience rather than relying on my ill imagination as which I've stated over and over, I grimly lack. Call it selfishness all you want, I know you will, I simply consider it research for my art.

Part III

I set out that morning to walk around the city. I already had one thing planned out. I would take a life with the use of a knife. Graham Byrne dies due to a stabbing. I find a stabbing a much more personal way to kill someone, it sets up a more descriptive way to detail the act of life draining out of someone, much like the blood pooling out of the body.

It was only when I sat on a bench in a park, as I looked around at the public going about their day, as who would be the lucky one to grant me my inspiration. In my story Graham Byrne fell at the hands of a mugger, a random mugger who chose Graham randomly. So my victim must me random. I got up and walked around, I left the park and started to walk up and down random streets, analysing everyone who walked past.

I have so far been very open with you my darling reader; I must commend you on reading this far into the tale. I will be open to you about one other thing. I hold a profound hatred of cigarette smoke. The texture of it as it lingers so toxically in the air, the yellow tipped finger in which carries it and the smell of it when it smothers your face, I utterly loath it.

So when I was walking past a bus stop and the potent smell of death shot into my nostrils, without any of my permission, I turned around and saw him!

A tall, lean man in his late 30's, he sported a suit but he didn't have the charm to pull it off. His hair was gelled down and his eyes were a striking blue, his pasty white cheeks reflected back a glimmer of the sun. His sense of character may not been what I hand in mind when thinking up Graham Byrne but it was now decided that this man would meet the same fate. So I got on his bus and started to follow him.

My only concern now was choosing my moment. We rode the bus for around twenty minutes before he got off and I swiftly perused. As he walked down the road, he turned around a few times to look at me before shaking his head and continuing onwards. I started to worry he might suspect something is afoot so I decided the moment shall be very soon.

By sheer luck the chap cut down a side street. A lovely cobbled road that coiled around the buildings, and to my great pleasure - was deserted. The only matter now was plunging this knife, which I had preciously tucked away inside my jacket, into this man.

You may read this and think I am deranged but I assure you I felt, I still felt no guilt as to this act. I am not writing this begging for approval, nor am I writing this so express guilt - my reasons for writing this will all become clear to you my caring reader soon enough.

I crept up behind him and tapped him on the shoulder. I wanted to be facing him, it was important that I saw his face in full. I asked him the time, such a simple question that no one would refuse to answer. As he reached into his pocket to take out his phone to check I took my moment.

Part IV

The blade erupted from my pocket. He could only catch a slight sight of it and comprehend the true gravity of the situation until after it had been shoved and encased in his abdomen. He fell pitifully to his knees and started to cough. It wasn't as smooth cutting into him as I thought. The knife struggled at first but once it finally pierced his flesh it soon slotted into him in a rather comfy manner. His eyes started to bulge in a way I never thought the human eye could, almost jumping out the skull as if to escape this terrible anguish which was detailed by his scream. I took the knife out and struck a second time this time preferring to slash. He faltered to the ground to lie on his back, my word the blood.

I admit I did not expect so much of it to seep out. I refer to this entire story as doing what I needed for my art and how fitting since it was like thick red paint that swallowed up the cobble road, flowing through the cracks in the ground, it was beautiful. I described my love of the topic of death earlier also, so as of this moment I was in my element. I lay on the ground with him, staring into his eyes wondering what will happen to the glint in his eye once his eyelid closed forever when death would finally take him.

While this event was occurring, creative thoughts were warping though my mind, I was trying to keep in mind what I was experiencing. The feel of the blade, the aroma of the blood, the exact pitch of his screech and the feeling of life being pulled away from him at my hands were all things I would need to recall for my writing of Graham Byrne. He closed his eyes but still continued to sputter up any last remnants of life until he ceased to be in motion any longer.

I was only then I got up and dusted myself off. There was no point in trying to hide the body; there was too much blood and not enough time to clean up. I however cleaned the knife and left it by him. It was a highly common knife so I didn't care about it being found. I only cared about getting back to my flat to write this event into my story before the vivid memory of this event still fresh in my mind.

On the bus home I took scribbled now many notes, trying to write all the details. I didn't want to exaggerate; I wanted it to be honest and keep true to the actual event. The sound of his body as it hit the ground, how his moans echoed down the street, how the blade looked when I first pulled it from him, no more did if have a silver shine but now sheathed in a film of crimson, as if the blade was now all of a sudden searing hot.

You have probably been wondering why I am even writing this. Why are you reading this instead of the story of Graham Byrne? Well I could never complete the story of Graham Byrne. This is written in its place. I wanted to write a story in which some one would die, this is now that story as it is much more authentic than the one I would have written. It encapsulates my exact emotion rather than the one I input onto some other make believe character. Why should I pour my feeling onto people who aren't real when I can just blatantly tell you them myself.

I am glad you bothered to read this my faithful reader, I can't thank you enough as it is for you that I have committed such an act. That you, who is sitting at a computer screen or on a bus flicking through these pages, perhaps in a state of horror that I, a mere writer, would commit such an act just for you.

You may scorn me with your thoughts but I set out to write a story about death and I succeeded and you have given a purpose to by reading my account, for that my random friend. I cannot thank you enough.


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