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This is a short story I wrote a few years ago for a uni class that I never finished. It has quite a few things wrong with it, I never re-wrote it into a better version. The tutor’s comments are at the end.


Why am I sitting here in the Narrenbah bus depot at one in the morning? What makes a person want to just hop on a bus at that time?

I’m running away. I didn’t tell my boss I was leaving. I did tell my landlady I was leaving in a note. I liked her better than my boss; I told her to sell our stuff and keep the money. I wouldn’t miss anything in this little town, not anymore. I’d taken only a few things and thrown them into my backpack. Some clean underwear and socks, a bible and a photo my now-dead wife and a little package of CDs was all I had.

I didn’t go to work yesterday. I should have—then maybe she’d be alive. She didn’t want me to steal those files, but I figured I could cover my tail until we could get out of town. Jess, my secretary, called me from work to tell me there had been a robbery there and my wife had been shot. Jess said the cops were looking for me. They weren’t concerned for my wellbeing that I knew. The local cops were the best money could buy and they’d been bought; I know because I used to pay them for my boss.

Now I was at the depot, which was a bubble of light in the pitch blackness of rural Australia. The town was to the north, across the river, and was just a glow behind the trees. I was alone with the moths and bugs; the nearby highway hadn’t had a car pass on it for the half hour I’d been sitting there.

I paced back and forth along the length of the depot’s length. It’s just a long, open-sided shed really—a couple of benches, not even toilets or a ticket office. I’d been there about fifteen minutes when my mobile rang.

“They are coming for you.” It was some woman’s voice. No idea who.

“Who is this?” I asked.

“My name is Mercy. You don’t have time for me to explain more. There is a boat to the north of the bus depot; get in it and cross the river.”

“How the hell did you know where I was?”

“Your iPhone can be tracked, you idiot. Throw it away and get to the boat. Now!”

Making a quick decision, I threw my phone on to the highway. I ran out of the depot and immediately tripped. Couldn’t see a damn thing—no night vision. I stumbled up and made my way to the river. I could smell it. By the time I got to the bank I’d regained some of my vision. Spotting an inflatable dingy under a tree, I grabbed it and waded a little way out into the river and jumped in.

A flashing light in the dingy caught my eye. A mobile on silent receiving a call. I grabbed it out of its plastic baggy and answered.

“You made the right decision. Keep this phone; paddle quickly; I’ll give you more instructions in five minutes.” I didn’t get to talk this time; she hung up before I could. I started paddling. From the direction of the bus depot I heard the screech of breaks. I paddled quicker. The river was only a football field wide at this point, but I’m not a rower and it felt like it was taking forever.

As I pulled the dingy out of the water, I could see people with torches on the other bank. I hustled into to the other side of the trees that lined the river. I hoped none of them would find where I went into the river.

The phone vibrated in my pocket.

“Now what the hell do I do?” I was a little scared.

“Keep your voice down. Go up to Lizard Drive and head west; that’s upriver. My brother will meet you at the end. He’ll be in a white ute. His name is Maurice.”

“How will I know it’s him?” I asked.

“How many white utes are you expecting to be waiting for you? Get moving, and hurry, it won’t take them long to drive back to the bridge and come around to find you.” Again she hung up.

I guess I just wanted to be told what to do. I started jogging up the road.

Maurice turned out to be six feet of muscle and possessing the charm of a hungry, angry bear. I got into his ute anyway.

He drove without lights on; I closed my eyes and prayed.

“Shit!” His only word the entire trip. He said it as he swerved to the side of the road as a black, four- wheel-drive running without lights slammed into us head on. Maurice went through the window. Always buckle up people.

I opened my door and fell out crying in pain and fear. My left arm was definitely broken and it hurt to breath. I reached in to get my pack and started to stagger down the road. The mobile rang.

“What happened down there? What was that noise?”

I groaned.

“Look to your right; do you see the house with the flashing lights?”

I turned and groaned a positive.

“That’s me; come up as quickly as you can.”

The walk up her driveway from the road took me five agonising minutes, but it gave me time to stop sobbing. I staggered up the steps to her house and knocked. Mercy called out for me to come in.

Mercy turned out to be one of the most gorgeous women I had ever seen. Her hair was black, long and wavy. She had the most amazing green eyes. She smiled beautifully as I walked into her living room and slumped down on her lounge. I placed my pack on the floor beside me and smiled back.

“Thank you, Mercy. I don’t know how I can repay you.”

“No need,” she said as she pulled out a gun and shot me twice. I slumped down on the floor and the last thing I saw was her opening my pack and reaching in.


Matthew,

This has a great pace and style, but I’ve reached the end and now had to look back and see what was in the pack? What was he killed for? (Forgive me if I’ve missed it. I can only see reference to some ordinary things placed in a backpack? The CDs? Or should I be assuming he’d put some money in there as well?)

That aside, I really enjoyed this. I’ve made a few corrections and comments regarding punctuation errors. The most common one is the comma splice—you have a lot of sentences ‘spliced’ together with commas, when in fact they’re two or three complete sentences and need to be constructed as such (or, if you want to indicate a connection between them, they can be separated by semicolons).

Sentence construction is mostly good, although there were a couple of places where it could have been stronger, and I think you could have taken more chances to show rather than tell in places. The first half was definitely the strongest stylistically—the story and ‘voice’ of the narrator captured my attention from the beginning and retained it to the end.