HOW TO BECOME IMMORTAL • by Dale Rappaneau

Write a book. Turn your beliefs, what few you have, into words. Write those words in large, black scribbles. Who cares what they look like? It’s your book. If someone asks what you’re writing, lie. Tell them it’s an epic space fantasy and the main character dies at the end. Huge explosion. And lots of gunfire, don’t forget to say that.

Show no one your book. No one except Phillip, the boy whose father leaves the gun cabinet unlocked. Let Phillip read your book; better yet, read it to him as he unleashes the fury of an automatic shotgun into a pumpkin. Then stop reading and comment on the stringy sinew and seeds strewn across Phillip’s yard. Say they look like brains, and that you’ll add it to your book.

After Phillip laughs, he’ll say it’s a manifesto, not a book, and that all geniuses write manifestos. Smile, say that he’s your best friend. He is, after all, your only friend. Don’t lie to him — ever. He’ll let you borrow a gun someday.

Flinch when you come home late and your father shouts your name. Flinch when his drunken words stumble out of his fat lips, down his knuckles, and against your stupid head. When you get free, scramble to your room – fast, as fast as you can. Deadbolt the door. This room, the one with pictures of your half-dead family, is where your mother used to sing you to sleep — right there, right in that bed. That was long ago, before your father took a liking to leather belts and bruises, before his fists grew thick with bombarding doors.

When you cry her name — and you will cry her name — remember the words you wrote in your book — your manifesto. Then remember Phillip, and what he let you borrow.

Dale Rappaneau writes in Rhode Island, USA.

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Every Day Fiction

  • sounds like the MC goes to a lot of effort to shoot his father – he has to write a book first. From that point of view, it’s almost a review a posteriori of how he managed to shoot him rather than a contrived plot of how to commit the perfect crime.

    nice writing. Like the brains and the pumpkin.Phillip must be very gullible.

  • I love this story. The imagery is very powerful and every word counts.
    I look forward to reading more of your stories, Dale.

  • Alecia Sawyers

    How you managed to contain an epic in so few words is epic. I’ve always loved to read narratives written in the present tense, so few exist though. The instructional nature of the content allows for a play with the future tense. I like that, I am discovering. A truly excellent read.

  • I really liked this one. The beginning grabbed me when I was deliberately trying to not let it do that – good job. But the ending left me a little flat. Still, five stars from me.

  • JenM

    That was perfect. From the beautiful writing that echoed in my head to the amazing plot. I loved the ending too. Our main character will get out of her predicament for sure.

  • A manic rollercoaster ride – which ain’t a bad thing on a Sunday!

  • What a fantastic amount of energy in such a short piece!

  • joannab.

    i liked this story, the progression from the drunken words to the MC’s stupid head was really great. also the pumpkin image. i like stories in the “you” voice. this was well-done but the ending was not clear to me. i tried to juxtapose the beginning – the main character in the book dying – to what the MC was going to do at the end with the gun.
    murder? suicide? both?

  • StephanieP

    Wow. You managed to pack a powerful punch into such a short piece. Very impressive. I look forward to seeing more from you!

  • Lali Fufu

    I’m with Mary, Michelle and joannab. Great story, made for an excellent – and very powerful – read. I hope he shoots his abusive father and doesn’t commit suicide (never thought I’d say those words..) but you made me feel so much for him, I’m on his side ’till the end.

  • ajcap

    Good voice. Shows well with few words.

  • I don’t normally like second person point-of-views: they usually sound false. This one however worked well. As other people have mentioned the energy is high and balled up in so few words. Great.

  • Tightly written, with taut emotional tension.

    Extremely effective at delivering a huge impact with a minimum of words. Well done!

  • Dale Rappaneau

    Much thanks to all the readers and commenters. I’ve always enjoyed stories that have a rubber band reaction – pulling, pulling, pulling, and then a snap of pain. Flash fiction can so easily suck you into a lightening experience, and I’m glad to see it worked with this story.

    Dale Rappaneau

  • Incredible voice and staccato delivery powered my imagination to your final conclusion. Great compressed writing. Kudos and five stars.

  • Gretchen

    What Chris (#13) and Alan (#12) (and everybody else) said – An awesome, powerful story.

  • jeff smith

    Smashed my dreams of immortality; I thought all I had to do was write a book. I hope winning the lottery doesn’t carry similar requirements. (five stars)