If you follow the blog or the stuff I write, then you’ll know I put out a new short story called Rocket Man, which is one story I’ve written that I really love. It would be great to get as many people to read it as possible. So in an attempt to do just that, here is the first part of the story. Have a read and if you like, get your copy of the story below.
Enjoy — CP
“I count the stars some times too,” she said.
It was Diane, Matt’s crazy chain-smoking neighbor. She was standing at her fence, looking up at the night sky. He wasn’t in the mood for company, this was why he came out here, away from the black veiled tears and the crying strangers that had gathered in his house, stinking up his carpets with grief and stealing the now-stale food from his kitchen. Diane had always been kind whenever they had passed each other on their street; she didn’t say much and said just enough, making her the perfect neighbour in Matt’s eyes. Lisa had always liked her too. She said Diane made her feel like she was a heartbeat away from the Swinging Sixties, with a hippy for a neighbor – a neighbor that, on occasion, had more flowers in her hair than in a well-kept flower bed.
Looking at her now, Matt realized what Lisa had meant; the way Diane dressed was like nothing in this world, never mind this era. She wore an Indian-style long dress that was brightly coloured, with a rainbow bull’s eye in the middle and a pair of sandals that looked like they were made of wicker. Her hair was wiry and frayed; like she’d perhaps stuck her fingers in a socket and liked the way it set off her eccentricity. He realized that he’d been staring at her without saying anything for nearly a minute now, the silence stretching between them like a kid ready to fire an elastic band at his least favorite teacher. He looked up at the stars again and let their glare rain down on them both. She didn’t seem to mind the silence, which was good, because he wasn’t much in the mood for talking.
After a few last draws on the smoldering cigarette, she stubbed it out on her side of the fence like it were a knee high ashtray and took out the pack for a next go round. She looked toward Matt. “You smoke?”
He smiled. “Not since I used the bike shed to shield the lighter from the wind.”
“Take one now, you look like you need it.”
He took one from the packet and she smiled, the wrinkles smiling with her, and the nicotine yellow teeth dazzled Matt like a row of tiny, fading suns. Matt lit up from her light and took a deep draw, careful not to cough up his first intake. No matter how old you got, you never quite shook that urge not to lose face when smoking a cigarette and always wanted to look cool besides. The smoke hit the back of his throat and wormed it’s way down into his lungs and he felt 15 again sneaking a cigarette away from his parents, his teachers and playing the Fonz in front of his friends. Although, now he thought of it, he was never sure whether the Fonz actually smoked a cigarette. Just seemed like everyone who wore a leather jacket in those days did. He blew out the smoke, clouding the night sky for a split second and smiled. It was just like riding a bike. “I’ve not done that in a while.”
Diane, already halfway through her own, smiled. “It’s never too late to start a bad habit.” At this, Matt laughed and took another draw. The two perfect strangers smoking in silence on a nippy November night.
“How’s little Tommy holding up?” she asked. Not taking her eyes away from the smoke rings and the stars.
“He’ll be OK.”
It took Matt a little longer to respond this time. And when he did, he wasn’t sure he believed the answer. “I guess I’ll be too.”
Diane nodded then, and stubbed out her cigarette. But before she could turn back inside, Matt stopped her. “Diane?”
“Before. When you said you count the stars. What did you mean?
“What did I mean?”
She smiled and reached her hand over the fence and gave Matt’s a little squeeze. “I want to make sure my family’s got plenty of friends up there too.” And with that, she patted Matt on the shoulder and disappeared like a ghost into her own house.
Matt sat there a few moments letting her words sink in. How could she possibly know? A few months before it happened, he and Lisa had been sitting on the porch as he was now and looking up at the stars. She was nagging him for neglecting the telescope she had bought him for this 40thto which he’d promise he would use and soon. According to the box you could see onto the face of planets, moons and stars. “You never know. You could be the first man to find life on other planets. Just like you always wanted,” she had teased.
“This your plan all along? To get me back to work?” he laughed. She just wrinkled her nose and smiled but he knew there was some truth to it. She’d been so angry when he’d left his job that she called is bosses at NASA and tried to get them to take him back. But, as Matt had told them (he had some pull their being one of their chief engineers – a literal rocket scientist) they were in no way to listen to her even if they wanted to bring him back to the space programme or make her happy. Leaving the space agency had been one of the tougher decisions (it had been his dream as a child) but the time it had given him with Lisa and Tommy was more than any project, build or mission could give.
They had been out there for an hour now and he was worried she was getting too cold. As if to ease his fears she brought her cardigan close over her shoulders and leaned into him, never once looking away from the night sky.
“You’re thinking about what happens.” she said. “Next. After.”
It was true; he did little but these days. Lisa always knew what he was thinking before he did. He didn’t respond, just held her close.
“It’s OK to talk about it. You won’t have much chance to talk with me after so you may as well use up the air between us now.”
He looked at her. The way she kept her humour, dark and brittle as it was at times, never ceased to amaze him. She looked up at him, the blue in her eyes still sparkling despite all that was going on behind them. Finally he relented. “What do you think happens? Next.”
She snuggled in and pointed to the stars. “I think we go up into the sky and join the stars. Why do you think there are so many?”
That was the last conversation they had had when it was just them; they way they had been forever before. The last time Lisa had a good day and the last time they sat out together looking at the night sky. He stubbed his own cigarette out and made his way back inside. He figured Diane must have overheard them talking that night. Whether she was being cruel or kind he hadn’t decided. Although, after what would happen next, he wouldn’t pay a second thought to his neighbour’s motives, whether it was a cruel trick or a kind word wouldn’t matter. That conversation beneath the stars, smoke and silence swirling between them both, wouldn’t even fall on Matt’s radar again. Not after what was about to happen. Not after Matt saw it.
Just days after Lisa had left Matt, Tommy and the rest of their family and friends behind for a life amongst the stars and just days after this quiet conversation between two strangers, everything was about to change for Matt, Tommy and everyone in the town that Lisa had departed. Just days after Matt believed he’d lost everything; he thought he’d found something again. No, this conversation, and any that followed wouldn’t matter to Matt.
Not after the night he saw the face in the sky.
Yes! I wrote a comedy short for BBC The Social and it is now live!
Absolutely buzzing about this, massive thank you to the producers at BBC The Social and for Cameron Fulton for taking the wee script and making it better!
Have a watch, share, like, comment and enjoy over here!
That’s right - you can now order my new story, Rocket Man as a paperback from Amazon!
Its always exciting to see my stories in print - and this is one of my favourite stories that I’ve written.
Head over to Amazon here and get your paperback version now. Don’t forget to leave a review!
Rocket Man - Paperback
That’s right! Rocket Man is now available on Amazon and is currently FREE!
It would be lovely if you got involved and downloaded a copy now - and left a review!
Its a touching story of love, loss and hope - with a bit of space travel thrown in.
Head to Amazon now!
Brand new story Rocket Man available now via the new Toasted Fiction series, Pocket Fiction.
Find out more below.
What's Pocket Fiction Then?
Besides being a kind of cool name, Pocket Fiction are new short stories from Toasted Fiction, the idea being that you can both fit them in your pocket and get a story for just a few pennies in your pocket.
So you can pick a pocket of fiction for just a few pennies today.
Sounds alright. But what if I don't want to pay at all?
Well f#@k you!
Nah, I'm just kidding. That's fair enough. Every penny's a prisoner. Which is why all digital downloads are made available initially for free. Yes, FREE! And you can decide what to you want to pay, if you want to pay. Anything from 1p to £1 - it's up to you.
I really should call it PickPocket Fiction shouldn't I? Cos your stealing from me!
Again, just kidding.
Why do you keep trying to make us read your stuff?
I cannae help it. I love writing and telling stories. You don't need to read them but I think they're no bad and you might enjoy them.
This is my way of trying to get some stories out there and maybe make up some lunch money. Or at least enough to by a Freddo if I sell one story.
A Freddo? Mate you'll need to sell more than one story, they're a fortune now.
Aye, they're 25p.
That's me f#@%*ed then.
Aye. What if I don't like reading digitally and want to read it in paper format?
Well, either you can print it off yourself or you can spend a bit of money and buy the paperback versions. But they're like £10.
£10!? You're onto plums mate. You've tae chance.
Aye, I know.
Anyway, one last thing. Pocket Fiction. PF for short. Sure this is short stories aye?
Aye. It is. It's no Plant Food.
This isnae that kind of site.
The first story in the Pocket Fiction series, Rocket Man is now available to download here.
We've moved home! Well, our podcast home that is.
All 16 episodes of Toasted Fiction Theatre are now available over on Anchor FM and iTunes!
There’s comedy, drama and even a science fiction murder mystery!
Listen and subscribe now: http://bit.ly/2mPFnZn
Sal and Jez are The Keepers. Of what?
You decide. One keeps asking and the other keeps asking.
Jez: There’s people done me wrong.
Sal: Aye. As us all.
Jez: But I’ve not told many. But the folk who done me wrong have told people there side of the story, I’m sure. The way certain eyes look at me at time.
Sal: Those who rush to bend the ear are those most likely to lose their own.
Jez: Aye. Fair point. (Pause) What if they get a hearing aid though Sal?
The world is a dark and scary place, which is one of the main ideas behind my second short story collection The Shadow People Won't Take Us Alive & Other Lost Souls (available to buy from Amazon here).
The response for those who have ordered the book (THANK YOU!) and read the book, has been amazing. It seems to be doing the trick.
So don't take my word for it - take the word of the readers as a recommendation. Get a copy now, have a read and smile. It'll help you turn the light on.
Sal & Jez pop up now and again with interesting conversations from a story yet to be written. Who’d like to hear more from Sal & Jez?
Sal: “What happens to those that take other people’s suffering as a prize?”
Sal: “If you take an other persons suffering as a prize. If someone’s pain gives you cause to smile. Have you won, or have you simply lost twice?”
Jez: “Depends. What’s the prize?”
Sal: “Nothing Jez. Doesnae matter. Just go back to watching or go back to sleep.”
Jez: “Awrite. Here, Sal?
Jez: “What would you do if you one the lottery?”
— The Keepers (C.Patrick)
The Shadow People Won’t Take Us Alive & Other Lost Souls has another review!
“A series of genuinely lovely, heartwarming short stories. Some are a little twisted, some are a little surreal, some are straightforward but all of them will leave you smiling.”
— Amazon Customer
What a cracking way to start a Sunday morning - a wee FIVE STAR review.
To the person who posted it, thank you and I’m glad you enjoyed it.
As warm and witty as you imagine a conversation with the man could be. There’s something nourishing and wholesome about the stories in this book. Perfect for a rainy day or a sunny afternoon.
#readalittle #readsomething #tomhanks #uncommontype #typewriter #shortstories #bookstagram #bookshelf #reading #reader #bookworm #bookish #bookrecommendations
The complete Series One of our Toasted Fiction Theatre is now available! All 14 episodes, ranging from a murder mystery in space, a reality TV comedy, funeral crashing grannies and intense police interrogations are streaming again!
We've moved from Soundcloud to Anchor FM allowing us to bring you all 14 episodes of the podcast. Now, we just need to get moving onto a second series.......
The Magnificent Seven
There are now a total of SEVEN reviews for the new book, The Shadow People Won't Take Us Alive & Other Lost Souls. Check out the reviews for yourself and pick up a copy now!
The reviews are starting to come in for the book on Amazon and the word is..........EXCELLENT! The fact that people are reading the new book and they're liking it is fantastic. It's a really, really great feeling. Thank you for those reading and for letting me know what you think. Don't just take my word for it that these reviews are real, head on over to Amazon and see for yourself. While you're there, grab yourself a wee copy and see what the fuss is about!
And aye, my Mum still counts as a customer. Her review of the first book was "I really like the font" so she's impartial.
As the year draws to a close, the Top 5 of 2017 lists are propping up in earnest. As a keen reader, listener and watcher, I would feel remiss if I didn't pay tribute to the books, movies, TV shows and music that have kept me entertained throughout the year and the creatives who make them and inspire me to make too. So here we go, the top 5 list, start with my Top 5 Reads of 2017
What are your top reads of 2017?
The second collection from best-selling author (honestly, it's true) Christopher Patrick (me) is now available to order!
I'm really excited to be bringing another book out - the second one after 2016's Toasted Fiction: A Collection of Very Short Stories (That Nobody Asked For) - with another range of stories that are designed to make you laugh, cry a little but ultimately feel good.
The Shadow People Won't Take Us Alive & Other Lost Souls features tales of hope, love and family. From an old lady's wig collection to a last minute quest for crisps & dip to the apocalypse, the idea behind this book is to warm your heart and shine some light on even the darkest of days.
2017 has been a bit of a gloomy year. Perhaps this is in reaction to that. We've got to find a little joy and a little hope and a little love to get us through. And, like the characters in this book, if you're one of the lost souls don't worry - everything will be alright in the end.
It's available in both paperback and digital. Get your copy now and allow the book to light the way.
The Shadow People, they won't take us alive.
Praise For The Author's Last Book "It's entirely possible that this is my favorite book this year" Dave Barrett (Author of It's All Fun & Games) "These little pieces of Toasted Fiction are gems" Jason Pomerance (Author of Women Like Us)
A new collection of short stories, coming Winter 2017.
Designed to make you smile, keep you warm in the cold winter nights and shine a little light in the darkest of days.