Warning:

This story is based upon true events. Any references made to persons dead or alive are fully intended. This story does contain strong language, poor vocabulary and remedial ideas. Unfortunately there isn’t any sexual content to save it.


I can remember the day as if it was yesterday. I’ve never been so sober in my thoughts as when I awoke, slumped on my office chair. It was definitely my chair and my desk but I wasn’t in my office. It was a white room — floor, walls and ceiling — completely devoid of all character. Apart from my furniture and my solitary confinement, the only other oddity was a large brass letterbox. It was approximately six feet in length and was installed vertically into the wall.

I was remarkably calm for someone of a flight rather than fight tendency. There was, weirdly, a serenity to the ambience of the room. I intended to get up and investigate further, but the letterbox opened and out popped 2 two-dimensional characters. They were photographs or Polaroids to be exact, but they weren’t your bog-standard Polaroids. One was a photograph of a black and white ink drawing of a man who had an old-style mullet, a moustache and soul patch, and a particularly fine ruffle around his neck. The other was a modern colour photograph of a well groomed middle-aged woman with blonde hair resting just past her shoulders, looking very pleased with herself. The strangest thing was that their limbs were in separate photographs placed where the original limbs should be, connected to the joints with paper fasteners. As they walked the photo limbs swung to give the illusion of movement.

“Please remain seated,” said the black and white man. “Thee mayest refer to me as William. This is Jo.” His left arm swivelled at the shoulder, flicking his forearm and hand out to point towards the colour photographic montage.

“Hello,” she said, offering me a smile.

“What is it you want?” I said ever so politely.

“What is your name?” Jo asked.

“simpleman, of course.”

They both laughed, almost creasing themselves. “Come on, your real name?” said Jo, this time with more conviction.

“I’m not going to tell you. Why should I?” I wasn’t going to stand for any nonsense from these lightweights.

“Dost thee not knoweth who we art?” William chipped in. “We art the Literary Police.”

“Fuck,” I said. What else could I say?

“You are being investigated for crimes against literature, particularly with regards to writing fiction.” Jo shuffled forwards, leant over and rested her folded hands on the desk. “We have plenty of evidence to convict you. William, if you please.”

William returned to the letterbox and opened it to retrieve a handful of photos. He spread them along the desk, except for one, which he kept close to his chest. I looked down and almost burst into tears. I felt each photo tear at my heart. There was a can opener, dice, some gingerbread, matches and a coffee mug to name but a few. “Thee calleth thyself a writer, yet this is the sum of thy efforts.” He pushed the picture of the watch forward. “Nine recommends.” He then pushed the picture of the fork forward. “Ten recommends. Twelve recommends,” he said as he pushed another forward, the feather duster.

“Pathetic,” Jo said. “I’ve had more recommends for my rejection slips than you have had for your stories. You are killing fiction ‘simple-man’ and the thing that has brought us here today, your latest piece, well what can I say,…” William threw the photograph he was holding onto the desk. It was a picture of a tyre iron. “…it’s a blatant disregard for the rules. You’re not even trying to make this prompt key to your story. Use your imagination. You could have turned it into a horcrux or a portkey.”

“Or a prop for the protagonist’s scintillating monologue,” William interjected.

“You could even have used it as a murder weapon,” Jo said, exasperated, shaking her head. “We can safely say the wheels have come off your car! This is the final straw. You are a murderer of the written word and you should be stopped.”

Each remark they made left a paper cut on my arm. The words continued to sting beneath the drying droplets of blood. “Surely I’ve done some good? Isn’t there any hope for me?”

“Well you did have a rare success with fifty recommends for the guitar and thirty four for the button. I suppose we could give you one last chance, a chance for you to improve.” Jo’s tone changed. Her voice became softer, nurturing.

“What do I need to do?” I asked, afraid they were going to tell me something far from my reach.

“Cease hiding. Standeth by thy words. Reveal thy true self,” William said rather animatedly.

“How?” I asked, desperate for guidance.

“What’s your name?” Jo asked.

“Pardon?” It wasn’t the response I was expecting.

“What is thy name?” William asked.

I sat upright in my chair, fearing the next thing that might come out of my mouth. Should I utter those words? They could never be undone. My glance darted between William and Jo. “OK, OK,” I said. I’d never been so nervous. “My name is Nathan M Green.”

The words made the room steadily increase in brightness forcing William and Jo to fade. My head began to spin and my stomach lurched. The light exploded into darkness and my head dropped onto the table. I passed out.

When I regained my senses it was too late. Staring at me from the screen was my real name, in this story, published on Medium.com, bobbing around on the internet for all to see. Oh well, what is done is done.

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