The blade rips into his flesh as he cuts, using the knife like a saw, his bloody, torn flesh falls to the floor below him, and he laughs, staring at his reflection.
“It was the words that drew us in, it was the night that sealed our sins, the devil smiled from somewhere afar, as our hero burned the dying star, whispered words, vaulted sins, the devils work, forever, begins,” he says, the lights flicker, as energy snaps violently through them, as he continues to look into the mirror, the blood drips from his face into the sink, he grins, his face grotesque, ripped and torn into a mask, in the form of a demented smile, that is now carved in his flesh. With a shaky hand, he raises the bloody knife once more, stretching the skin around his eye with the other hand, then digs the blade in, and screams….
He feels his mouth go dry, nervously he grabs a glass that sits on the side of his desk, placing the sheet of paper down as he takes a large mouthful of the liquid, he feels the vodka burn his throat as it goes down and he lets out a hiss of satisfaction.
“I’ve read a lot….” He stops in his tracks as he takes a quick, sharp breath in, as he attempts to quell the burn from the vodka, hisses again, before pressing his lips together tightly. “I’ve read a god damn lot of shit you’ve wrote over the years Marty, but this has got to be the best fucking piece of writing you’ve ever placed on my desk,” he says looking over to Marty, who has a broad smile on his face.
“See Bernie, I told you it was worth the wait, it’s good right?” Marty says, slapping his hands together in excitement.
“It’s better than good, it’s wrong, fucked up, pushing the boundaries of good taste to the extreme wrong, now where’s the rest?”
“It’s coming,” he says leaning back in his seat.
“Coming? What the fuck do you think this is? I’ve got half an issue ready and waiting for this baby you’ve been gestating, now two days before the issues published you tell me its coming?”
“You said it yourself, it’s the best piece I’ve ever written, don’t you want the rest to be just as good?”
“Don’t throw my words back in my face Towns, it’s not good form, just tell me how long you need?”
“Another few days, four at the most, I wanna get it right, I want the whole thing to mesh perfectly.”
He empties the remainder of the glass into his mouth and sucks another quick, desperate breath of air in with it, hoping to dull the burn once again, “Two days, that’s all you’ve got, you don’t have it ready by then I’m going run with Jones’ story.”
“Jones? Seriously Bernie? You’d give that hack half an issue? Can’t you push it back a few days?” Marty says in shock, sitting up in his seat.
“He’s got something ready, you don’t, and two days is the best I can do. Templar’s tying my hands Marty, they’re cutting expenditure, the old man wants us to meet deadlines without fail, every issue,” he says pouring himself another glass, and filling Marty’s as well. “Mate between me, you and the bottle, they’re getting close to pulling the pin, I went to see the old man yesterday, fucker looks ready to run, he’s got that look, you know, crazy eyes and shit. I can’t push back now, it’s gotta be what it’s gotta be,” Bernie says quickly draining his glass once again.
“Fuck! Seriously? I’ll see what I can do, but I can’t promise it’ll be ready,” Marty says as he clenches his hands into tight fists.
Bernie lets out a loud, boisterous laugh, “Shouldn’t be too hard sport, you’ve got a killer start.”
“It’s not the start, it’s the end. I just thought jumping to the end at the start of the story gave it a, you know, a sorta fucked up twist, see what’s going to happen, before it all really begins,” he says, as he picks his glass up from the desk, letting the vodka dance around on his tongue, swishing it around in his mouth, before he swallows it.
“Sure you’re not being too cerebral for the readers? I mean, we’re no high-end magazine Marty, we’re penny dreadful shite, trying to pull a Stephen King might alienate the readers.”
“It’s clever I know, but the way it opens the story up, allows itself to connect straight to the ending makes it more fun. It gives you guts, gore, and a hell of a draw card to drag you in, you don’t like the idea?” Marty replies quickly.
“I get the whole trying to draw the reader in shit, I love that. It’s just sticking the end at the start, it’s more what they do in the movies, or big publications, not what we do in shock horror magazines mate,” Bernie says, filling their glasses again.
“Trust me, you’ll love it and so will the readers, you’ve always said it’s all about impact, well, this is it, I want the reader drawn in straight away, I want them to WANNA know what’s gonna happen next, why he’s carving up his face. I mean, don’t you?”
“Okay, okay, you’ve won me over you little shit so stop trying to sell it to me. Does Wilkinson have a cover yet?”
“You know Gareth, he’s working his way there, it’ll be ready.”
Bernie swivels in his chair and leans back, resting the empty glass on his enormous stomach, “So tell me, oh great sage, how are you going to cut the ending so it flows into the beginning?”
“Easy,” Marty says as he empties his glass again, slamming it in the desk. “I’m going to smash cut it straight in, no bullshit, just straight into it,” he says with a twisted smile, as the vodka burns down his throat, all the way to his stomach.