This is part 1 of my first story in a challenge I created for myself that I’m calling the Story Generator Challenge. I’ve been wanting to write fiction for some time, but my lack of both experience and confidence has been holding me back from finishing any story I start. So, I’m starting my journey out with fast-moving short stories based on a plot generated from The Amazing Story Generator: Creates Thousands of Writing Prompts by Jay Sacher. I’m an aphantasiac, which means I don’t see pictures in my head; so you’ll find that most of my stories lack endless descriptions, which I personally feel like I have to slog through in most stories and novels. Feel free to offer some critique in the comments. Or even better, share your own version of a story from the plot in the title! Let’s have some fun.
Rob punched the rock wall and screamed. The abandoned gold mine reciprocated with blinding pain in his fist and his own voice reverberating throughout the shaft.
It figures, he thought, it just figures. His life was great when he was a hit man. Everything always worked out. He made plenty of money, and he never ended up in situations like this. It wasn’t until he actually listened to his conscience that shit like this started happening.
He was 43 when it started talking — his conscience. His one remaining grandparent, his nana, had died while canyoneering in Utah. The rock she was anchored into cracked, and she fell. The fittest, healthiest, most active person Rob knew — she was 87.
Nana was the only person Rob ever felt close to. She was the only one who knew about his real career, and she loved him for who he was. When he got the phone call, his world narrowed to a vibrating black dot. The voice on the phone disappeared amid the, “womp, womp, womp,” that filled his ears. Suddenly, he realized the significance of death. He wasn’t sad. He was probably more used to death than anyone else on the planet. It was something else. It felt like a glacial shift — a massive movement that started with something tiny and ended with a chunk of himself breaking free into the waters.
He was on a case, tracking an abusive husband. This was an especially easy case. By now he knew that death is the only way a woman can really, finally be safe from an abusive spouse. Plus, abusive husbands are always incredibly stupid, making the job even easier.
But that night as the greasy bastard walked away from his pickup, Rob just stood there, frozen, toolbox in hand. All he had to do was make a couple adjustments under the truck. No one would notice him at night in front of this shitty neighborhood dive bar. But that wasn’t it. He wasn’t afraid; this was routine stuff. No, he couldn’t do it — he couldn’t kill him.
He stood there motionless for hours, waiting for this lousy feeling to wash away. But it didn’t. He watched as his target stumbled back to his truck, pulled himself onto the seat, started the vehicle, and drove away. And then he felt even worse because he knew what would happen when the man got back home to his wife that night.
He shook his head, mounted his motorcycle, and followed him. He would just shoot his tire out on a curve. But that never happened either.
He watched the man swerve into his driveway and practically fall out of his pickup. He aimed at his head, pistol shaking, sweat dripping. Just do it, you idiot! But he was still pointing the gun as the man walked into his house and slammed the door behind him.
He took a few more jobs after that incident, but he failed at all of them. He was no longer a killer.
By the time he came to these terms, he was living off the last of his savings. He realized if he could no longer kill for money, he’d have to get a job. But it turns out that it’s hard to get a job that pays enough to get by with no experience and no education. Of course he tried lying, but everyone kept checking.
So he got a job cooking at Wienerschnitzel, which covered exactly half of his living expenses after reducing them as much as he could. So he got another job cleaning public restrooms late at night. He was getting by for a while, but soon found himself accumulating mounds of debt after his motorcycle broke down, and his clothes started wearing out, and his new shitty apartment was ransacked.
He was hanging onto his last thread of hope when one night the asshole he couldn’t kill the night his nana died crashed into Rob’s work van when he was driving to a mall to clean the bathrooms. The paramedics took him to the hospital in an ambulance, because he was unconscious and couldn’t refuse. Otherwise he obviously would have gone home and healed like a man, without doctor intervention.
Instead he ended up with a blood transfusion, 176 stitches, a cast on his arm, a cervical collar on his neck, and a $423,648 bill. The only good thing that came from it was that the abusive husband finally died. His blood alcohol level was a .28.
After a couple months, he was standing at the kitchen counter, looking at the pile of bills, when the flames of anger took the leap from his belly to his arms. He swiped his cast at the stack, sending papers flying everywhere, and it was while he stared at them, floating and flipping through the air that it came to him.
What was he doing? Rob was not cut out for the working life. If he could no longer kill, he’d find another way to make money, but it sure as hell wouldn’t be “the honest way.”