Authors: Andrew Lennon,Matt Hickman
Table of Contents
Over the Edge
When I first started speaking to Matt Hickman, he had just read my book,
A Life to Waste
. He left a very good review and, in private, gave me some sound advice. Over time, we began speaking more and more, about various books we'd read, authors we were discovering and general writing banter.
One day, Matt told me that he'd been writing something himself, and asked if I could take a look at it. I can't say anything about the story because it’s due to appear in Dark Chapter Press'
anthology very soon, but I can confirm that I was genuinely blown away. I was thinking, 'OK, this guy can really write.'
I enjoyed the story so much that I gave it to my wife to read, and her reaction was the same as mine. When I told Hickman what I thought about his story, he was shocked. He didn’t think he could write at all, and was just doing it for a bit of fun. I disagreed and told him that he really had something there. I pushed him. I wanted him to write more.
I approached Stuart Keane about a couple of anthologies I wanted to set up. Stuart kindly obliged and has since taken the role of editor. Once they were in place, I immediately invited Hickman because I knew what he had to offer. Lo and behold, he comes back with another cracking story. The story was soon accepted by Keane to be in one of the anthologies. He also agreed that Hickman had the writing ability.
As time went by, we both did our own thing. One day, Matt Shaw approached both Hickman and myself to appear in a new collection of apartment based horror stories,
Behind Closed Doors
. Featuring the likes of Shaw, Stuart Keane, Michael Bray, Ian Woodhead, and several other respected horror writers, this anthology quickly became a pre-order bestseller. Being new to the game, both Hickman and I didn’t know what hit us. We both wrote our stories and much to our relief, Shaw thought they were good enough to be included.
Shortly after that, Hickman approached me to ask if I would be interested in doing a collaboration together. He had a very good idea for a story and thought it would work well if it came from two writers, two alternate perspectives. This would be the foundation for our debut collaboration,
However, writing takes time, so we decided to hone our craft and compile a short story collection in the meantime. Hickman agreed; it would give the fans a taste of what to come, a hors-d'oeuvre so to speak. We wrote the stories, each of us challenging one another, yet keeping the stories different and varied. We wanted a good variety, so we decided on six stories, three apiece.
Six unique stories – also known as Hexad. A few months later, and here we are.
“It says connect part 4b to part 4c,” Julia read from the instruction leaflet.
“OK, I’ve got 4b here, where's 4c?” Cameron asked, holding up a pre-cut, shaped piece of wood.
“That isn't 4b, that’s 3b!” Julia groaned.
“Well, how the hell can I tell the difference when they all look the same. 3b, 4b, 5b. They’re all the bloody same, there's no point in calling them any different.” Cameron held up two seemingly identical pieces of wood.
“They’re obviously different. They fit into different parts of the wardrobe. I can see it, you’re just not looking properly. You
look properly!” Cameron threw the pieces to the floor and stood up to walk out of the room.
“Where are you going now?” Julia spat.
“I’m going to get a drink,” Cameron answered, through gritted teeth.
“Well, get me one as well.”
,” he grunted, with as much of an exaggerated tone as he could.
He walked into the kitchen. The cold, tiled floor felt nice on his bare feet. After leaning into cramped spaces and bending into positions that no man should, in order to try and assemble Julia’s precious wardrobe, he felt like he was burning up. Sweat began to form on his brow. He grabbed a can of Coke from the fridge and held it to his face. The cold condensation running down his cheek provided a chilled relief.
The can hissed as he cracked it open. He leant over the sink, taking his time, sipping his drink slowly. He was in no rush to go back into the bedroom and continue the assembly of that god forsaken wardrobe. If the wardrobe wasn’t enough to keep him out of the room, then Julia was.
He could still remember the first day he'd met her.
Five years ago; it felt like a lot longer.
“Hey, come on, mate. Let’s go and give it a go with those two over there,” Trevor said.
“I thought we were just coming for a quiet drink? I don’t want to go on the pull,” Cameron moaned.
“Are you on your period or something? What kind of bloke doesn’t want to go on the pull?”
“Listen, you can have the brunette and I’ll have the blonde. Mate, look at them, they're bang tidy. Just look at how that dress is clinging to her arse.”
Trevor was right, the girls dress was indeed clinging to her arse. Cameron had been staring at it for most of the night. The way the fabric hugged her cheeks; it allowed him to appreciate the shape of her perfect behind. As if that wasn’t good enough, she also had a great rack. Plus, she was beautiful. Cameron had been trying to build up the courage to go and talk to her for most of the evening. He had caught her glancing at him a couple of times throughout the night. He was sure that if he just walked over and said hello, he would find out that she was just as interested in him as he was in her.
But she was the blonde one. Almost as if he was calling dibs, Trevor had claimed her when he made the shout to go and talk to them. Cameron was devastated that he hadn’t called first, but he didn’t have the confidence that Trevor did. Cameron had never spoken to a girl in his life without Trevor’s help. Trevor's way of helping was to talk to the more attractive girl, leaving Cameron the chance to speak to her friend. That’s why Trevor always got to choose. He would probably give Cameron a shot if he just said something, but he never did. He just stayed quiet.
It was a shame, really. Cameron was a good looking bloke. He knew he was as well. He was tall, six foot, had dark hair, a strong jawline, and well defined cheek bones. He still played sport regularly and trained every night, so his physique was still as good as it had been in high school. If he possessed the confidence, he could have quite easily been a model. Girls always seemed to flock around him, but by the end of the night the really pretty ones left with Trevor, and Cameron was always left with the friend.
It was Trevor’s gift of the gab that made him so popular with the ladies. He could usually get them to engage in conversation with him by using his most powerful tool - Cameron. He knew that girls were always drawn to Cameron, but because he was so shy and quiet, they always assumed that he was being rude. This is where Trevor stepped in, with his quirky jokes and smooth compliments. By then, he had won. They were his prize for the night.
He had even told Cameron that he used to use that exact pulling technique with an old friend, Dave. He was a runner or something like that, so the girls were often attracted to him as well. That was back when Trevor had really long hair and looked like a hippy.
“Right, come on then,” Trevor said. “Remember, I’ve got the blonde and you can have her mate, yeah?”
Cameron nodded. He glanced away from the blonde girl's perfect arse and looked at her friend. She was a very pretty girl herself, but she was also very plain. She didn’t look like the kind of girl you would see in the centrefold of
, not like her blonde friend.
Trevor led the way as they both made their approach to the girls. Trevor was not a bad looking guy himself, he was in pretty good shape too. He smiled as the girls looked at him, and then shyly glanced away when they saw him and Cameron approaching. The plain girl looked genuine, the blonde was quite clearly putting on an act, something Trevor was sure she had done a million times before. He walked behind and put his arms over both of their shoulders.
“Hello, ladies. Can we get you a drink?”
The blonde looked to Trevor and rolled her eyes. She smiled when she looked just over his shoulder and saw Cameron standing just behind him.
“Yeah, sure,” she said. “We’re both gonna have sex on the beach.”
“Oh, are you now? And what will you be having to drink?”
The blonde giggled, a fake laugh, all part of the act. The smile came again when looking at Cameron, and she began to curl her hair around her finger. This didn’t deter Trevor. He was used to this, he had played this game more times than he could count. The night still ended the same; he got the girl he wanted and Cameron got her friend. Unless he was in one of his moods, like tonight, and then he would leave well alone.
Half an hour later, and Trevor’s plan was working just as he wanted. He and the blonde were having a great time, laughing and joking with each other. She had lost interest in Cameron, who was now quietly talking to her friend, who returned the favour even more quietly.
“I’m just going to the ladies.” The blonde turned to her friend. “You coming?”
Her friend nodded and followed. Trevor and Cameron watched the blonde's arse as she walked away. It was almost hypnotic the way one cheek would rise as the other came down, each time, her dress teasing them as if it was going to ride up just a little bit more. A hand obscured their view as it reached over and grabbed as much of one cheek as it could fit and gave it a big squeeze.
“What the fuck do you think you’re doing?” The blonde shouted as she turned to face the man who had just groped her. His biceps were almost ripping the short sleeves of his shirt. It was very obvious that he worked out, but it was also very obvious he used steroids.
“I’m grabbing a piece of the arse that I’m going to take home tonight.”
“No, you're not! Besides, I’m with someone, he’s over there.” She pointed towards Trevor and Cameron.
“Oh really? Well, let's go and see about that, eh.”
The man grabbed the girl's blonde hair and dragged her across the room until he reached Trevor and Cameron. The girl screamed and struggled to get free but his grip was too strong.
“Are either of you two faggots with this girl?" He asked.
“No, no. I don’t even know who she is. I’m not with her,” Trevor rambled, his voice had gone high pitched, making him sound like a cowardly child.
” the blonde shouted. “You're a...”
Before she had chance to finish her sentence, the muscular man collapsed to the floor, dragging her down with him. His grip loosened enough for her to pull her hair out of his hand. It wasn’t until she was trying to stand up that she noticed he was unconscious. She looked up to see Cameron rubbing the knuckles of his right hand. He held it out to help her up. “Are you OK?”
“I am now.” She smiled the most beautiful smile that Cameron had ever seen. “Did you just knock him out?”
“Well, yeah.” Cameron almost mumbled as he reverted back to his normal shy self. “He shouldn’t treat girls like that.”
Before he knew what was happening, her arms were wrapped around his neck and her tongue was in his mouth. After several minutes when she pulled away, she smiled at him again. “I never got your name before."
“Oh, it’s Cameron.”
“Well, hello, Cameron. I’m Julia. Now, I would like it if you wouldn’t mind taking me home so I can thank you for your bravery.”
Cameron followed his hard on which, in turn, was following Julia out of the bar.
“I should have just let him keep her,” he mumbled to himself.
“Are you bringing that drink in for me or not!” Julia called from the other room.
He grabbed another Coke from the fridge and walked back to the bedroom. He sighed when he entered, looking at the unending piles of wood all over the room. It looked like he had played a game of giant
“Right, where were we?” he asked, handing Julia her coke.
“Well, I was in here trying to put this wardrobe together while you were hiding out in the kitchen.
“Hiding out? What the….I went to get us a drink! And why does a fucking wardrobe need so many bloody pieces anyway? Apollo 11 never had this many pieces.”
“Oh, don’t be so stupid. Can we carry on now, please?”
“Where was I up to?”
“Connect 4b to 4c.”
“But they all look the fucking same!”
“We already had this argument
you went to hide in the kitchen, there's no point repeating it. Seeing as I’m not stupid, I can tell the pieces apart. So, I will give you the correct pieces and you screw them together, or hammer them, or whatever it is you’re supposed to do.”
“And you call me stupid? You hammer the nails. Can you guess what it is that you screw?”
“Screw you, you fucking prick. How about that?”
“Right, this one is 4b, you need to connect it to this one, 4c.”
Julia handed pieces to Cameron and instructed him as to which piece went where. She had mistaken the correct pieces almost every time, but it wasn’t evident that they were wrong until Cameron had gotten so far into fitting everything together. By then, they could see that it wasn’t right.
She shouted at him about how he'd fitted it wrong and that’s why it didn’t look right, so they had to start again. Cameron kept grinding his teeth together, trying his best not to argue back. It had already been a long day and he could do without another argument to make it feel even longer.
He kept thinking back to that night that he took Julia home. It was only for sex. Why had he stuck around for all this time? She was a bitch; he'd realised that within a month of them getting together. It hadn’t taken her long to start bossing him around and talking down to him.
As he looked at her, he could still see the reason that he hadn’t walked. She was still perfect to look at. He could feel his jeans tighten around his crotch as he stared at her cleavage, which was hanging over the wardrobe as she was leaning to check another piece. That was the problem; it was his cock that was making the decisions, not him.
“What the hell are you staring at? This isn't going to get done with you sat there with your mouth hanging open, is it?”
Once again, Cameron sighed and got back to work. His jaw was actually starting to hurt now, his teeth building pressure.
An hour later and it looked like they were getting towards the end. By this point, Cameron was actually shaking with anger. Julia had done nothing at all to help, but she had not stopped criticising him the whole time. Telling him how he was useless, how he was doing it wrong, how he was stupid. Over and over again she berated him in every way she could.
Cameron hammered away at the tiny nails to pin the backboard to the wardrobe. Fifty nails needed to be hammered into it, according to the instructions. He began to rush; if he could just get through this bit then it would be finished and he could leave. He could just get away from this horrible woman. He could just get out of the house. His head was throbbing now. He could feel sweat dripping from him. All he had to do was get through these nails and it was done.
“Not like that, you idiot. You need…”
Julia's words were replaced by a gurgling sound. Her jaw hung limp and to the left after Cameron had smashed it with the hammer. She put her hands to her mouth. She looked at Cameron, shocked. She tried to say something but nothing legible came out. It didn’t matter though, Cameron knew that it would be something horrible about him. Probably telling him how stupid he was. He screamed as he smashed the hammer into her forehead. A cracking sound was followed by a squelch and then a bubbling noise. Blood pooled out of Julia’s forehead as she fell to the floor.