Tag Archives: Mental State



1078 words for this bonus chapter of Mental State. I missed two chapters earlier this month because I was so busy with the non-english versions of Body Rentals, and my Days Until Home chapter and needed to catch up. I might write another one tomorrow. For this one, I’ve incorperated prompts from #3WW, Inspiration Monday, The Writing Reader and Sunday Scribblings 2.

* * *

Steven drew carefree circles in his notebook. He didn’t really care what he drew, and he found that his hand pushed the pencil across the paper seemingly of its own accord. The instructor was babbling on, and Steven pointedly ignored what was being said.

He wishes you were dead.

Steven sucked in a breath and looked to where Robert sat. Robert’s face flushed, and he looked away.

He was watching me, Steven thought with a flicker of bitter contempt. What am I now, some sort of freak show?

Steven looked around the classroom and met more than one deadpan glance. It would be a flash of disgust, and then they would look away as soon as Steven made eye contact. Steven felt the bile rise in the back of his throat. Why did they look at him like that? If they had something to say, they should just say it. Steven realized his hand shook with the vice-like grip on the pencil. The wooden implement snapped audibly, and Steven felt several sets of eyes bore into him.

Steven’s shaking hands spread to his legs and feet. He seemed unable to control the shaking. David and Leonard didn’t try to hide their amusement. It was as if they were experiencing a dystopian Christmas. They elbowed each other and smirked at Steven. Everyone watched as Steven seemed to have some sort of fit, but no one moved to see if he were all right. Even the instructor seemed at a loss deciding between anger at the disruption, or the need to help a student.

Leonard punched David in the shoulder, and David rose to his feet. He sauntered to Steven’s desk and punched Steven on the shoulder. “What’s going on, murderer?” he asked loud enough for the entire class to hear.

They all hate you.

The voice, David’s punch, and the smirks of his classmates were finally all that Steven could take. The sadness and depression that Steven had felt for so long boiled away. A rage boiled inside his gut. It expanded, and the tremors in his hands, feet and legs seemed to grow with it. Everything that had happened since the day Lindsay killed herself came to a head.

He knew that no human being should have to go through what he had endured. He knew that he didn’t need their hate, and he thought that he needed their compassion. But now, he wondered if he even needed their compassion. The rage coursed through him. It seemed to fill every part of his being.

Do what you must.
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1122 words for Mental State today. **TRIGGER WARNING** self harm.

* * *


Steven bolted upright and looked around. “Lindsay?” he asked, his voice shaking. There came no reply. He was certain that he had heard her voice. He blinked his eyes, the sleep clinging to his eyelashes. Lindsay is dead, he thought. He wasn’t dreaming, so why was he so sure that he heard her voice?

She’s here for you.

Steven paused and contemplated the voice’s utterance. What did it even mean? The fleeting thought of Robert bringing Ruby to see him at the halfway house enraged Steven but was immediately dismissed. They wanted nothing to do with him, so for them to come here didn’t make any sense.


Steven froze; he felt icy fingers claw his back. It was Lindsay’s voice. Steven could only conclude that he had lost his grip on reality.

Steven, I’m here.

Steven squeezed his eyes closed. Maybe if he didn’t see her, she wouldn’t be real.

I am real.

“Lindsay?” He asked, straining to hear her voice in a room filled with snores. “Lindsay,” he repeated, “where are you?”

I’m right here.

Steven’s eyes snapped open, and he whipped his head toward her voice. It sounded as if it were coming from the long hallway leaving the communal sleeping room. He rose and crept toward the kitchen. A wave of unease washed over him when he remembered his last time in the kitchen.

He leaned against the wall and considered for a moment that he was indeed insane, but he caught a glimpse of movement in his periphery. He turned his head and his breath caught in his throat. He wasn’t sure if the shadow of a figure was blurry from his wet eyes, or if his brain just refused to allow the shape to coalesce into what he knew it to be.

Her ghostly image appeared to flicker in and out of existence. The only constant was her face, and the familiar frown she always wore. Her face was a pale that only existed in death. Her eyes were wide and bloodshot. She wore the same clothes she had on that day in her apartment, but they were frayed and torn as if she had walked through barbed wire. Blood poured from her wounds and puddled on the hallway floor.

He could only stare at her. The voice screamed that she had come to him over and over. His brain willed his legs forward, but he seemed to be frozen in time, unable to do anything.

Be with me, Steven.
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1,140 words today. Prompts from Three Word Wednesday, The Writing Reader, Terrible Minds, and Sunday Scribblings 2.

* * *

The cacophony of shattered glass was not as loud as Steven’s scream. “Stop telling me to kill myself!” He shuddered and held his bloodied knuckles to his chest. A shard of broken mirror sank into the rubberized toe of his shower shoes. He stood there shaking and stared at the missing mirror panel. The other two undisturbed mirrors showed a young man bleeding on the bathroom tile.

His chest heaved, and his attention fell to the broken glass on the sink and floor. Thousands of quivering figures looked up at him when his eyes met each reflective piece. The voice for the first time in as long as he could remember fell silent. Steven knew the voice would return, and the thought sent a shiver down his spine. No one came running to check on the noise. That suited Steven just fine. He didn’t need anyone. Steven knelt to clean up the glass fragments.

It didn’t take Steven too long to clean up the mess he made. He wondered if he would even need to explain himself. It wasn’t as if the staff at the halfway house cared what happened within its doors, as long as the government paid them for Steven’s stay. After wrapping a bandage taut around his knuckles, he quickly dressed and made his way to the lounge.

It was day three of his self-imposed vacation from school. Three days with the voice as his only companion. Others had come and gone, but they had their own problems to deal with. He silently endured his three days of torment. Steven looked up at a television in the corner of the lounge. The public access channel was showing a children’s cartoon. Steven was too old for the educational benefits of the simple cartoon, but the sounds filled his head where the voice had resided in earnest for the last three days. Steven leaned back, closed his eyes, and let the nonsensical sounds wash over him.

Since he wasn’t constantly battling the voice, Steven had a moment to let his mind wander. His thoughts kept returning to the Twin Oaks High School.

Had they noticed that he wasn’t there? he wondered. Were they relieved that he wasn’t there? At least he had a moment alone from their hurtful looks. At least the voice was silent – if even for only a moment.

As if his thought presaged it, the voice intoned, They won’t stop.

“They’ll find something else to focus on,” Steven muttered. “It’s not as if they want to see me there.”

You know what they really want, the voice replied. Make them happy.

“Please just leave me alone,” Steven begged the voice.

She wants you too…

Steven focused on the garbled noise from the television. He weaved the sound into a protective blanket as if it could protect him.

* * *

Steven spent the rest of the week and the weekend clinging to tattered sanity. The isolation nearly drove him mad. He had to return to school if for nothing else, to give him something to occupy his mind.

His classmates muttered curses and comments as Steven walked by. It wasn’t taboo to openly dislike Steven, and the student body took advantage of that. Apparently, some there thought he had killed himself. As if one death could somehow cleanse the other. Many didn’t even try to hide their disappointment that the rumors of him taking his own life were untrue.
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1,080 words today for chapter fifteen of Mental State. Prompts from Inspiration Monday, Three Word Wednesday, The Writing ReaderSunday Scribblings 2, and #TuesFlashFicTrain.

* * *

Ruby’s eyes scanned the serving line at the cafeteria. Robert stood next to her, doling out advice on what food was acceptable, what was theoretically edible, and what to avoid. Ruby turned to him and asked for a suggestion, and Robert’s face became a deep crimson.

He must be nervous, Steven thought as Robert nervously fiddled with the hair over his ears. Robert always messed with the hair over his ears when he was nervous.

The unlikely duo of an introverted Robert and a sassy Ruby made their selections and found a table. It wasn’t too far from a taciturn Steven, his stoic expression daring anyone to mess with him. He was aware of Ruby’s eyes falling on him again. Robert was oblivious to her lack of attention as he droned on and on about what courses he liked.

Save for his former best friend and the new girl; Steven took no notice of what was happening around him. What was the point when everyone apparently hated him? He met Ruby’s eyes and quickly looked away. Anyone who didn’t already hate him would, as soon as they heard about Lindsay. The voice made a snide comment, and Steven muttered for it to shut up.

Robert’s rapid-fire lecture on the benefits of raw fish to society at large abruptly ceased when he found Ruby staring at Steven intently. “You do not want to get involved with Steven,” he told her.

“Steven?” Ruby asked. Her eyes met Robert’s. “Why is he always alone?”

Robert shook his head, glanced at his former best friend for a brief moment, and returned his attention to his auburn-haired cafeteria companion. “You don’t want to know.”

Somehow, her emerald eyes twinkled in the light of the industrial cafeteria. She leaned forward to get closer to Robert. Steven saw the tips of Robert’s ears flame red. This wasn’t the first time today that Steven noticed the blush that the new girl brought on to Robert.

“Please?” Ruby insisted.

Robert cracked. “Okay, but I don’t think you’ll be happy with my answer.”

Ruby nodded, her eyes searching Robert’s face.

Robert leaned closer still, and in short whispered words, told Ruby the sordid tale of Steven. He described Lindsay’s suicide, Steven’s arrest, Robert’s brief moment on the stand, the trial results, and the ensuing riot.

Ruby’s face displayed a gamut of emotions: curiosity, shock, disgust, and anger. When Robert had finished telling the tale, the mask of fury pinched her normally lovely facial features. She met Steven’s eyes, and he got up, grabbed his backpack, and stormed out of the cafeteria.
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As promised, it’s time for a little sunshine to enter into Steven’s life. I had a lot of great feedback for chapter thirteen, and I’ve integrated all your suggestions. As usual, prompts from Inspiration Monday, Three Word Wednesday, The Writing Reader & Terribleminds.

* * *

Everyone turned toward the commotion at the door to the classroom. An auburn-haired girl stood in the doorway. Her hair was closer to light brown than to red. Her hair cascaded past her shoulders and unlike most girls new to the school; she didn’t attempt to hide behind it. She had an athletic build, shining eyes the color of emeralds, and a swath of freckles across her cheeks and nose.

Steven wasn’t the only one to stop what he was doing and stare at the smiling girl. Her green eyes flashed in the light as she surveyed the room, finally her gaze locked on the instructor. The other girls in the classroom looked on, wondering if she were a friend or a rival. Leonard winked at her and beckoned for her to come to him. She ignored them all and strode with confidence to the instructor’s station.

“Can I help you, dear?” the instructor asked when the auburn-haired girl approached the desk.

“I’m a new transfer to Twin Oaks. I’ve just moved to the neighborhood.”

The instructor nodded and turned off the overhead projector as she tapped some keys on her computer. “Name?” she asked, looking up at the new girl.

“Ruby,” she replied. “Ruby Julian.”

Steven returned his attention to the strange markings on a piece of paper in front of him. He had no idea what the marks were, and he started shading and connecting the odd marks. Some of his classmates returned to clicking on their mice and tapping on their keyboards. The assignment was to build a web page, but Steven’s screen remained blank.

Steven returned to his drawing; his attention focused on the weird scribbles in front of him. He flipped his pencil and rubbed out an errant mark. The shaking of his desk was loud enough for a few coughs and pairs of eyes to lock on Steven in his corner separated from everyone else by a moat of empty desks. Even Robert made brief eye contact before he sniffed and returned to his assignment.

The instructor stood, walked around her desk, and clapped her hands to garner the class’s attention. Everyone stopped what he or she were doing and looked up at the instructor. Everyone that is, except Steven. His outlandish scratching of graphite against paper was audible in the silence. The instructor didn’t seem to acknowledge Steven’s act of defiance. He felt several sets of perplexed eyeballs on him, but he ignored them all, maintaining his silent disturbance.

“We have a new student who’ll be finishing out her year here at Twin Oaks. I want you all to help make Ruby feel comfortable in these last few weeks until school ends for the summer.”

For the first time since Ruby entered the classroom, she looked a little nervous. She smiled and gave a small wave to the rest of the class. Even Steven stopped defacing the paper in front of him to look up at her.

Today, Robert was sitting behind David and Leonard, the last row before the swath of empty desks that separated Steven from the rest of the class. Robert’s shoulders were rigid, and his work on his webpage was abandoned. Like everyone else in the classroom, he was enthralled with the Auburn-haired beauty. Leonard made a comment and David snickered. It was too far away for Steven to hear, but the tips of Robert’s ears subsumed into a dark red.
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I finished this at a thousand words in a gripping cliffhanger. I decided that that was just too dark. I added an additional 267 words, and I think it made the story better. Prompts from Inspiration Monday, Three Word Wednesday, The Writing Reader, and Chuck Wendig’s weekly flash fiction challenge.

* * *

Steven weaved through the rows of empty metal bunk beds. By now he knew where everything was. Even a blind pilot could fly this plane. He crumpled up a hand-drawn map on yellow tablet paper he made when they first forced him stay at the halfway house. He no longer needed it.

He was still reeling from his encounter earlier that day. He still couldn’t believe his former friends had done that to him. Why is this happening to me?

You could stop it all.

Steven looked around. He thought someone had said something, but he was alone. With a wince, he swung his backpack to the top bunk and lowered himself to his mattress.

You can end the pain you’re in.

Steven sat up suddenly and banged his head on the top bunk. “Hello?” he asked the empty room.

They hate you. But there’s an out.

“What do you mean?” Steven asked and then clamped his mouth shut. He felt like a kook. He waited, but the only sound he heard was the thundering of his heart. Was he going crazy? Was his new reality so skewed that he now heard voices? He lowered himself back to the thin mattress.

End it all.

Steven fell into a deep sleep – the parting words from the mysterious voice echoed in his head.

* * *

Your pain will be gone only if you decide to end it all.

Steven’s eyes snapped open. Was he going crazy? He staggered to the communal showers; the sounds of snoring buffeted him from open doors. He gripped the sink and looked into the eyes of his reflection in the mirror. The hot water washed away the crusted blood on his face but did nothing to make the bruises fade.

Steven shoveled eggs into his mouth with robot precision. Dressing himself had caused a flash of pain every time the cloth touched one of his bruises. He grabbed his backpack and prepared to trudge through another day of school. Why did he even bother? He wasn’t doing the work. He was attacked the day before. Even before the beating, people sneered at him and called him names. The last month of his senior year was just a waste of time.

* * *

Steven lay awake in his bunk most of the night. As the sounds of a day getting going sounded around him, he rubbed his eyes and threw back his blanket. He contemplated skipping his classes again but decided, for some reason, that he had better just finish his senior year. Everyone had preached the value of a diploma, but was it worth the hassle?
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[Chapter 12 – 1060 words| Inspiration Monday, The Writing Reader, Sunday Scribblings 2, Chuck Wendig]

Bang! The instructor slammed the window closed.

Steven ignored it and sat staring at a blank screen. His mind’s eye played images across its matte features. Lindsay smiling; Her blank stare when he found her; angry faces, yelling at him; and Robert’s tear-filled eyes when he declared that he couldn’t be his friend anymore.

Steven’s fists clenched, and his knuckles blanched. He didn’t know what to do now. Lindsay killed herself, and now everything was sideways. Steven lowered his forehead to the cold surface of his desk. He took a deep breath, and then another. What would he do? Was he responsible for Lindsay’s death? Did he miss some sign? Was it really his fault? If even Robert thought he’d done it, maybe he had…

The instructor shuffled by and placed a bundle of paper on Steven’s desk. He mumbled his thanks, but the teacher scowled and moved on. He wondered why she even bothered. He hadn’t done any homework since his release from jail. Robert sat stoically with the rest of his classmates. Steven was a pariah, separated from the other students by a buffer of empty desks.

Steven willed Robert to turn and acknowledge him, but Robert’s clenched jaw was visible from Steven’s angle. Steven returned to his worksheet. It only took a moment for Steven to brush it aside. He had no intention doing any work today, or any day. He put his head down and listened to the sound of pencils on paper.

* * *

Steven set the plate on the customer’s table and scurried away. He wasn’t fast enough to escape her comment about him being rude. He marched back to the kitchen. The chef paused from filling orders to deliver Steven a sideways glance, and then returned to preparing food.

Steven filled two glasses with ice and water and delivered it to a newly seated customer. The patron looked up at him, and his companion elbowed him in the ribs. She hissed, “Ask him!”

“Are you Steven Bass?”

Steven nodded, his pen poised over his order pad.

The couple frowned, stood, and walked out of the restaurant. Steven stared dumbfounded as another customer refused to be waited on by him. This was the third time this happened, and his shift wasn’t even two hours old.


Steven turned to see the restaurant manager beckoning to him from the office. Steven gulped and trudged to the office. Kevin Kanai was his name, but everyone only referred to him as “Kanai.” Kanai sat on his desk opposite one of the chairs at his desk. Steven slumped into the chair to await the inevitable.

“Steven, I’ve seen the reactions from the customers to you.”

Steven nodded. “I didn’t say or do anything, I swear.”

Kanai shook his head. “Steven, we both know why these customers are leaving.”
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