Ten Days is a selection of ten linked short stories which come together to make a novel, rather than just a short story collection. I must admit that the idea for these stories was not mine, but by a friend of mine called Brian Grove (another author) who kindly donated the idea to me.
What is to be the fastest for one day? Or the wealthiest man in the world? Or the most powerful? This is what the novel asks, in its ten tales. As to what the connection between the stories is… well, you won’t find that out until the end of the book.
Brian has not read the completed article, so I don’t know if he likes what I have written. He might not even recognise my collection as being what he intended when he gave the idea to me. But, surely, that is the point, isn’t it? No two authors are going to tell the same tale in exactly the same way. If Brian was to write his own version I’m sure that it would be very different.
There are only so many different stories in the world, anyway; there are only so many plots. What is important is not just the story, or the idea, but the way in which you tell it.
I hope that my humble attempts are entertaining.
Extract from Ten Days
He woke up. The room was cold, no fire being lit in the hearth. He shivered in his bed, the paltry blanket not being thick enough to fully retain his body heat. There was nothing for it, but to rise and discover what the lees of the day had in store for him.
He got out of the bed and dressed quickly, exposing as little of his flesh to the air as possible. He glanced out of the windows, where a breeze rattled the panes, a draught of November sifting through. The sky outside was already beginning to bloody, the sun approaching its western nadir. He had slept through almost the entire day. But, then again, he had not gone to bed until a roseate glow had signalled the advent of that morning’s sun. His gaze drifted down onto the darkening streets, the shadows lengthening towards the east. The air was hazy with a slowly forming mist, the sky heavy with the promise of rain, the underside of the strato-cumulus reddened by the last rays of the dying day.
The loss of the day did not matter. It was the night that he lived for. It was only in the darkness that he came alive.
There was a washbasin in his garret room, against one wall, a cracked mirror hung over it. He walked over to the mirror, and gazed into it. He did not recognise the face which stared back. It could have been anyone, any anonymous man who you might meet on the city’s streets. The eyes were perhaps a little too dark, composites of shadows and crow’s feet, the darkness of too many nights lived, too many days missed. His skin was perhaps a little too pale, the whiteface of an actor, or the pallor of a corpse. But, otherwise, he looked normal. No one would look at him and think that he was anybody other than some city gentleman.
The crack in the mirror created an ersatz scar across his face, his visage split as though two different men looked back at him: one of the day, one of the night. But it was the night which was ascendant: it had been, for a long time now.
He put the plug into the plughole of the sink, making sure that there was a firm seal. He turned the hot tap, but only cold water came out. He let the sink almost fill before turning the water off.
He removed his cutthroat razor from its leather case, and opened its blade. The metal was clean, with not a stain upon its surface. For some reason that was important to him.
There was no shaving foam; nor could he even find any soap. He wetted his skin with cold water, and held his straight razor up, its deathly sharp edge approaching his defenceless neck. But, as he got closer, his hand began to shake. He had to stop, lest he cut his own throat open. He tried three times, but each time his hand became more unsteady the closer the razor’s edge got to his skin. He had to put his razor away, folded back down, and slipped into its tan leather case. He would have to be unshaven.
He would be fine, later. Once he had imbibed a few drinks the shakes would disappear.
Ten Days is available as an e-book on the Amazon Kindle store.
The Treasure Hunter’s Handbook by Brian Grove is available on Amazon.