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A short story

Charlie Robinson Lives by Alison T. Bond

The Tally: 62 dead... Children: 59 Teacher(s): 1 Dinner Lady: 1 Gunman: 1 Kill as many as he could, just to ease his pain, just to end the screaming, the endless screaming in his head. Sniper. So quick. So precise. He would’ve killed so many more if it were not for that shithead of a sniper. So able to do the job, trained and honed to calculate the distance, the movement of the target, wind speed, oscillation at maximum velocity, the power of impact. Maths, that’s what it was, that’s what they did, maths: a+b = 1 x dead gunman. A difficult equation by a man with a gun to take out another man with a gun, peering through the riflescope. Man down; job done. ~•~ Charlie Robinson was an average kid: he would never get to college, never light up the world with his outgoing, entertaining personality – simply because he lacked one. Never a winner, always a few steps behind. He hadn’t been naturally quick like the other kids, he had resented their joy in life, their laughter, all the things that made being a kid worthwhile. Charlie was a kid with an average dad. Or so it seemed. The dad that never went to college, but who had a personality that darkened the room when he entered it: the man Charlie loved and feared the most. The father who was dark because his father had been dark. Each generation doomed to repeat the sins of the forefather. Charlie couldn’t remember being free of the shame. That was what his father did to him. Each day after school before his mother came home. He couldn’t tell. Who’d believe him? Who’d see into his eyes and know the pain? Charlie Robinson, some days when he could, would find a quiet 2

corner in the woods, sit down and cry. Years of abuse mounting into torrents of tears and self loathing. But more importantly, the absolute loathing of others. Charlie Robinson grew into a man and Charlie Robinson bought himself a gun. Charlie Robinson blew off their heads, blew out their chests and heard them screaming above his own deranged screams and then... Charlie Robinson was dead. ~•~ And there he was, wandering about the bodies, looking down at them. The pieces of his neighbours children, some unidentifiable, some obviously bits of skull, bits of rib, bits of forearm, feet. Just dead meat strewn around him, and the worst thing about this, he thought to himself, was that he didn’t feel any better, it hadn’t stopped the screaming in his head. It was still there driving him to distraction. He looked around him and the sniper was there on the hill; a grassy knoll, he chuckled to himself. ‘I’ve been shot at from a grassy knoll; it’s like I’m a president or something’. He waved at the sniper as if to say, “Here I am, you got me, I’m dead and gone, floating off to hell or whatever happens to people like me. Bye-bye world.’ As he waved, he could see his hands. They were the hands of an old man, a very old man, wrinkled and covered in age spots, the knuckles gnarled and disfigured by rheumatic issues. ‘But I’m only twenty three, what the hell?’ ‘It’s your decision, my good man, to change the outcome, if you want to?’ came a calm voice from behind him. Charlie turned to see a small middle-aged man with dark hair peppered with grey at the temples, and a beard around lips that curled at the edges slightly into what seemed to be an eternal smile. His eyes were a bright clear blue; he was quite beautiful for some reason that Charlie couldn’t fathom, even standing there in a tatty old leather jacket and torn jeans, his belly drooping over the waistband a little. 3

‘Who the hell are you?’ Charlie asked, dumbstruck, he was dead after all. The man laughed, ‘A ha, now there’s the trick, who the hell am I? Charlie Robinson, you are dead – and yet, here I am talking to you. By the way, I know what you are thinking and no, I’m not dead, very much alive, always have been. But I do have to deal with the dead a great deal, so here we are, perhaps ready to make the deal of your lifetime, if you’ll excuse the pun and also using the word deal as many times as I can, just to get the message across. Ah, I’ve lost you, haven’t I? You’re not the sharpest tool in the shed, I expect. Still, that isn’t a problem, it’s not a difficult decision, you see. You are dead now, but if you like, you can alter the outcome of what just happened – do you understand me?’ Charlie nodded, even though he didn’t really grasp everything that was being said. He figured being dead didn’t leave him with too many options, so what had he got to lose. If only he had been sharper. ~•~ The man continued, enthusiastically waving his hands around and smiling, ‘Anyway, the thing is, you look old now because I’m showing you that you’re not really dead, well, not exactly, in so many words. Let me explain. You see, every life force still has a little ‘play’ in it after it dies. It doesn’t last very long and as it happens, yours hasn’t run out yet, the age you appear to be now is the age you could reach if we came to an agreement. Still understand? Good, I see you’re nodding, that’s very good. Let’s just get on with it then. You get to go back, well, sort of, in time, and then you change what happened to you. And you live on, a long life with whatever little nuances you like added in, and then obviously you’ll still die later on, but probably of old age, disease or some sad, calamitous accident, and then you have to come and stay with me, for eternity, which, I’ll grant you is quite a long time – but let’s face it, it’s better than an eternity of just being dead, because that’s all it is, you know, just a whole load of nothing. Turn to dust. Bugger all else; boring. Come to me, however, and there are lots of things to do, all day, every day for all time. Sounds like bliss doesn’t it? – Yes? – Still nodding I 4

see. Cool. Let’s do it then. Off you trot, go see if you can put death off. The Grim Reaper. Never liked him anyway; scrawny bugger, weirdo, no sense of humour or dress sense for that matter.’ With that, the man turned away and wandered off, fading into the scenery, leaving Charlie dazed and confused and still dead. ~•~ Charlie Robinson stood on the grassy knoll, with the calculating sniper and pushed really hard. If he wanted to knock the sniper over, it didn’t work. He couldn’t have pushed hard enough to do that, but he pushed just hard enough to alter the calculations, the maths, the sight to the mark. The kill shot became the miss shot and Charlie Robinson lived. ~•~ Charlie knew the sniper was there now. The Tally: 62 dead. Children: 59 Teacher(s): 1 Dinner Lady: 1 Sniper: 1 And then there were more. The tally went up exponentially once the sniper was taken out of the equation. The Tally: 126 dead. Children: 115 Teacher(s): 5 Dinner Ladies: 2 Sniper: 1 Policemen: 3 ~•~ Charlie Robinson, the mass murderer, lived on; he had his day in court and got sent down for life in maximum security with every brutish thug the world could have thrown at him. He pleaded insanity, which, in fairness he had cause to do, from a life lived in fear of a father like his; that man had been enough to drive anyone over the brink and 5

into doom. But to kill 126 people, innocent people, innocent children, sympathy was not offered to him. Just the coldness of his cell, solitary confinement (for his own safety) as nobody likes a kiddie killer. ~•~ He was visited after quite some time by the man he had met at the school whilst he was dead, the small, disheveled looking man with the twinkly blue eyes and smiling lips. ‘So, here we are then. How do you think things have worked out for you then, Charlie?’ ‘You said I’d get to live on to a ripe old age, with all the things I wanted; nuances you called them. You lied to me; you’re an utter shit!’ he exclaimed with the force of a man on the edge of a breakdown in emotional stability. ‘Ah, well, yes I am a bit of a shit in all honesty, but I didn’t lie. I did say that you’d live on, if you remember. I said you could go back and change the outcome, change everything and live a full life. I don’t think you considered all your options, and I’m only here to offer those options, you see; that’s my job, to give you a choice, so you can make an ‘act of free will’ to your own ends, to your own satisfaction. I don’t give the orders, you know, that’s what I pride myself in. I give the opportunity to further yourself. How is it my fault if you went and made the wrong decision?’ ‘I went back. I stopped him from killing me so I could stay alive. I thought that was what I was supposed to do. I don’t want to live to be old if I’m stuck in here!’ ‘I’ll let you into a little secret: this time travel, it’s not a pin-point thing, you could’ve gone back and slaughtered your father, who, let’s just face it, is the twat that got you where you are today, buggering you every night the way he did, and, if you’d had any sense, you would’ve clotched your mother too, because you know that bitch knew all along, but just didn’t want to admit she did. No matter how much she tried, she just didn’t do it for him; he liked the boys, he liked them young and, 6

let me tell you, it wasn’t just you buddy. So if you had had half your wits about you, then the choice to become an orphan would have been the path I would have suggested, if it were my place to make such insinuations. But it’s not; you chose badly and now you’re in here for life, and, when you get out of this dark, seedy shithole, I have a dark, seedy hellhole for you to come and live in – lucky old you!’ ‘Can’t I at least get one more chance?’ The man laughed quite robustly ‘Ha, well I would help there, but you really are a bit too fucking stupid to bother with – and anyway, I’m a one-shot sort of guy and if you want to get out of it, you’ll have to go above my head, and that would be my very own beloved ‘Father’. Oh and how he’s fucked me over a few times over the years. Let’s face it, you can pray as much as you like to Him, but He is not fucking listening, not to the good, worthy people of this world and certainly not a murderous little shit like you – no – not to you, even with the abuse, you had a choice. You blew it. It’s over.’ So, Charlie Robinson, the mass murderer, lived and lived and lived until finally he died and continued to suffer, because killing the innocent simply does not wash the hatred, nor the sins away. Charlie Robinson would have been better off staying dead.


Š Alison T. Bond 2013 email:

Charlie Robinson Lives  

A Short Story

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