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“C’mon Jimmy!” his sister yells. “Let’s play Star Wars!” Running past the bin of loose vegetables, she grabs two large carrots and throws one towards her brother. Carrots and onions spill onto the floor.

Laughing hysterically, Jimmy catches the carrot in mid-air and lunges forward thrusting it towards her bare mid-section. “I’m going to kill you, Obiwan!” he shrieks.

“Noooo! Help!” shouts the girl at the top of her lungs. Parrying his thrust, she swings her carrot wildly in the air barely missing an elderly gentleman trying to negotiate around their flailing arms.

Then another bloodcurdling scream, “Jimmy! Payne! STOP THAT NOW!” A woman in her late thirties with stringy shoulder-length blonde hair rushes towards them pushing a shopping cart overflowing with supplies. Grabbing the girl by the shoulders she picks her off the floor and shakes her like a rag-doll. “You’re driving me crazy! I warned you both. No TV. No computer for a week. And that’s final.”

“That’s not fair!” cries Jimmy. “What’d I do? She started it.”

“SHUT UP! Not another word from either of you.”

As they pull into the driveway, Payne whispers to Jimmy, “Meet me upstairs, okay?” He nods.

The woman collapses onto the sofa next to an unshaved man in his early forties wearing a stained sweatshirt and dirty faded jeans. Crumpled beer cans circle an overflowing ashtray.

“Jesse, I swear I’m gonna kill them kids,” sighs the woman. “Today they practically tore up the Grocery Barn.”

Without a word the man slips the belt out of his pants. Trying to stand up he staggers and barks his shin on the coffee table. “Goddammit!” He gives her a look and pulls his hand back as if to strike.

“No, honey,” she whimpers. “Please baby.” She pulls him back down onto the couch and kisses him while kicking the belt under the coffee table.

“C’mon baby. Jus’ relax, okay?”

Upstairs, two screams pierce the air. “Mommy! Daddy! Help!” Then a single gunshot cracks the air.

A crash as something downstairs breaks. Footsteps pound up the stairs. “Be careful Jesse! Wait for me!”

Cries from the bedroom closet, “Help us!”

Bursting into the bedroom, Jesse moves quickly to the closet and tears the slatted door off of its hinges. Nothing. The woman scampers up behind him and squints into the semi-lit space.

“I don’t see nothin Jesse. Just some dirty—“

She catches a tiny movement out of the corner of her eye. Something in the pile of laundry on the floor—a little black tube poking out towards them.

“Look Jesse. What’s that?” They take a step forward.

Six explosions in quick succession, like firecrackers. Blood everywhere. Cries. Then silence.

Two small forms emerge from the clothing. The girl holds a small revolver at her side.

“It’s like I told you, Jimmy. I can only take so much. Now we can play whatever we want, whenever we want. Go turn on the computer, okay? We’ll clean up this mess later.”

Views: 541

Comment by Preston Randall on March 9, 2014 at 17:10

I'd love some feedback on the story, and of course appreciate any clicks on the "liked it" button above.

Comment by Shakes on March 10, 2014 at 18:41

Well, that's the whole nature, nurture debate sewn up! A brutal and honest read Preston, intensified for me by the present tense narrative and gunfire rapid pacing - particularly towards the end.

Not being from a nation of gun-owners - how many rounds does a revolver carry - is it six in the barrel and one in the chamber?

Comment by Preston Randall on March 10, 2014 at 19:18

Thanks so much for the feedback Shakes! I also noticed the 7th bullet issue after I sent in the story. I'm also not a gun owner so I Googled the question and it appears the average gun nowadays holds a lot more than the 6 bullets used in "old-style" guns. (see, I don't even know what they're called). Here's a link to a typical answe:

http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080526172246AAjIR5O

Comment by Shakes on March 10, 2014 at 19:26

Ha ha! You're sorted then. No 7th bullet issue! That said - 'The Seventh Bullet Issue' sounds like a fantastic title for a story! Even if there was an issue, hardly a fly in the ointment. Artistic license can cover a lot in my book (and thank the Gods it does in my case!)

Comment by Preston Randall on March 10, 2014 at 19:41

I like the title too! Hmmm, maybe my next story...

Comment by Meredith Loughran on March 20, 2014 at 12:35

I am so thrilled that the ending was unexpected! My only critique: I was a little bothered by Payne's transformation of innocent youth playing StarWars to cold-blooded killer in a single afternoon.

Comment by Andy L. Kubai on March 20, 2014 at 18:04

The title lends both to levity and foreboding feeling of the story simultaneously. Although I had a similar concern about the rapid transformation of the children, I infer that a history of abuse and violence simmers just beneath their exterior. Although I have to admit an absurdist, The Stranger like null motive could be equally as chilling.

Comment by Emmaline Adell Field on March 21, 2014 at 0:13
I like it, however as meredith points out it hard transition. It leaves a reader asking for details, but it has good potential.
Comment by Ronnie Capaldi on March 21, 2014 at 12:47

"a little black tube poking out towards them." this was the line that reaaly thru a ominous picture in my head. The closet scene at the end was the best (I base this solely on the fact that i could clearly seeteh scen whist I was reading), "slips the belt out" earlier was also good.

These are just my humble opinions thou! :) 

Comment by Ronnie Capaldi on March 21, 2014 at 14:36

scuse my typos 1st line should be "really"  and 3rd line  "clearly see the scene"

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