Join our amazing community of book lovers and get the latest stories doing the rounds.

We respect your privacy and promise no spam. We’ll send you occasional writing tips and advice. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Short Story Contest 2020-21

Gulp Fiction

Google+ Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr

“Two shots in the crotch. Two more in the heart. One last in the head,” Carter murmured to himself. A man laid dead in the alley outside the bar. Nobody cared.

The paper in front of his eyes read:


Welcome to Los Angeles: The Toilet of America.

Here’s where you’ll find the best of the best – theglamour, the lights, the darkness, the money, the fame, the abused, the abusers, the big houses, the hills, the attention seekers,therapists, the smugglers.

Welcome to Los Angeles: The City of Dreams.


“Cheeze… d’yawant somecheeze?” Jenson said with a smile aswide as the base of the glasses at those parties up in the hills, his nasty smile came with an exclusive look at a mouthful of “cheeze” squeezing throughthe gaps in his greasy teeth. Jenson’s face, if Carter had to describe it,would be just about the most challenging thing he ever had to do in his screenwritingcareer, but the page in his hand reading the opening monologue for his next“big script” wasn’t anything better, the monologue needed to change.

“Why’re ya’ always down, huh Carter?” Jenson asked with nointention to hear any replies, gulping down the last bit of Heineken. “Eh beerboy, get me ‘nother round?” he asked the bartender, then turning to Carter he said “You want some more Carti-boy?” Carter’s head lowered down as a sigh explodedfrom his chest, the air of which had the cheap papers of his “big script” rustling for a second. Jenson noticed Carter’s glass was still half-full; he nodded to the young bartender-to-be-actorto fill the rest of Carter’s glass, who was looking at hisscript, inked on sharp white papers, thin, but with a dirty grain on them – thestandard mark of tacky shit.

“Whatsamatter, kid?” Jenson asked in a warmer tone; his voice just as harsh, but Carter didn’t respond. Jenson knew Carter wasn’t “fully there” ever sincehis British wife had left him for a gym trainer back in London, but nothing justified Carter’s behaviour now; Jenson had been on the edge with him lately, trying to fix a fourteen-year-old partnership, by talking about cheese.‘Nother round of beer and nothing will matter, Jenson thought before gulping down the poisonous glass, “You got your meeting withLancelot tomorrow, remember?”

No response again.Jenson continued with hopeful eyes, “I’ll drive–”Carter interjected, “Meeting’s not happening, Jenson,” Carter replied. The hope was gone, and Carter heard a disappointing sigh.

Jenson knew it was over – fourteen years of working witha young hotshot Hollywood screenwriter, only a shadow of whom sat next tohim now. Fuck it, Jenson thought, hisbrows closed in, smile drawing outmore, “Fuck you, Carter! Ever since that foreigner wife of yours–”

Carter, knowing what was to come next,interrupted, “You just had to do it, Jenny, didn’t you?”

Jenson spat out the half-drunk beerall over the bar counter, “Hey, I ain’t your Jenny!” he shouted. Jenson hated being calledJenny, something to do with his childhood; Carter knew “Jenny” would be the last straw in their crumbling partnership. Some of the beer had covered theleft side of Carter’s face and jacket too; the bubbles on his fake leather jacket weredisgusting, some of it must’ve been that “cheeze” too; Carter didn’t mind it.That was the last straw for Jenson, this was the last straw for everything and everyone – the world was done with Carter, and that’s what he wanted anyway.

“You know what, Carter?! Fuck ya! This is done, you’re done. Go backhome!” Jenson said as he slid out of the chair, on his way out. “A man hashis needs, Jenny!” Carter shouted just to piss Jenson off even more.

It was done now, almost poetic to Carter. He knew thiswas the last he would see from Jenson. Jenson – his agent, his amazing friend,if even tough to deal with at times. He could hear Jenson shouting from acrossthe hall, “We ain’tworkin’ together no more, Carter! An-and your wife–why askher to take her name back from ya’ just like she did with that pussy trainer of hers!”

Carter, smiling, raised his glass to no one as he looked at hisscript.


Welcome to Los Angeles: The City of Dreams.

The paper read.

The raised hand had displaced the loaded gun in the right pocket of Carter’s jacket, he quickly attended to the matter.The homeless man’s words came back to him: Redemption isn’t the same as revenge. And all Iwant is redemption.

It was time.




Two days ago, Carter was here only, in the same pub drinking the samedrink and talking to Jenson about things as unimportant as cheese; they endedup arguing, like always, so Carter exited the backdoor into the alley. In themovies, they always had something go wrong in these alleys, but Carter had beenworking in the industry for sixteen years now (fourteen with Jenson as hisagent) and that had taught him nothing but how far apart life is to the movies. At least in movies you can have the life you want, here in reality, in this town, you can’t expect anything less thana show at every turn.

Carter noticed a bunch of strange men standing in thecorners at the end of the street, young and skinny – probably high on something,on the other corner stood two hookers with their fake breastsabout to burst off their tight tops, whatever; Carter’s face had no worries; hehad nothing to gain, nothing to lose.

“Shake the pockets a lil’ bit for the needy?” A homelessmanasked Carter. It was as if the manpresented himself out of nowhere because Carter hadn’t noticed him though hehad been looking at the road all the way down the alley, “Shake a lil’ for the

needy?” He said again, but his tone was moredesperate now, more crushed – the sound of pain.The homeless man held up a dog bowl with a dollar, a few cents here and there and some other things like strings in it.

Carter pondered for asecond, looking at the man and the man looking at him, how he could’ve been in this poor man’s position, at least that wasn’t trueyet.

For some reason, when nothing came to Carter’s mind, he went and satnext to the homeless man – just to feel something.

“Woah! Easy there,” the homeless man said with part insecurity and part fear, “I was only askin’ for some help.”

“Don’t worry, I’m-I wanna-I don’t know. I don’t know whatI’m doing.”

The man examined Carter, whose face was somewhat familiar,but it was shining less since the last time he had seen this stranger. Carter was looking up at the night sky, “How do you survive here? Alone?” His head turned to the homeless man; licking his

lips nervously, “Out here on the streets with these kinds of people,” pointing

at the hookers and the drugged out-kids.

“You don’t really wanna know that; and let me tell you something son, people call me a freak but you’re freaking me out more.”

Carter chuckled, with his docileeyes and raised eyebrows still looking at the sky. The homeless man smiled – they had an instant connection – and asked “What do you do for a living, sir?”

“I work in Hollywood as a screenwriter,” Carter said as a faint smirk turned up on his face, like he was just as proud as he was embarrassed.

“Hollywood,” the homeless man coldly said, “I knew I’d seen you somewhere.”

“Man, fuck this!” Carter shouted while slapping the man’s“collection” box, “I’m supposed to be meeting the biggest producer in–”, heglanced over his pocket watch for no reason, “–three days. Three days I get to sit down again with Lance-fucking-lot, you know about him?”


“Yeah, but hereI am sitting with you, some sorry-ass hobo. No offence.”

The homeless man was fixing up his box – carefully placing the strings, bracelets, toothpicks, and the only picture in it with a young woman – when he calmly said, “Hey, I ain’t sorry about nothing. This is my destiny, so here I am. Everybody’s here for some reason, you know.”

“No, I don’t know this destiny crap,” Carter replied instantly, “I’ll tell you destiny. Work hard all your life through some of the worst shit to make something of yourself, fall in love with a woman, then you find her fucking her gym trainer.So, she leaves you because self-esteem, she leaves you in a studio apartment, your bank account empty, your career down the–” Carter’s eyes caught the picture in his view, “Is that you? Who is that?”

“No go on,” the man replied.

“I worked all my life to not be in your position, yet here I am.”

The homeless man turned to Carter, his dark eyes like a planet covered in ocean water, “You are not in my position, sir.”

“What do you mean?”




Three days later, Carter was standing by the window inhis apartment, overlooking ablocked view of the Hollywood sign. The homelessman’s words came back tohim: Once,this place was about injustice, about discrimination, but also dignity andrevolution. Now, it is just wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong…

Carter stared outside the window at the hills, they were applaudingthemselves on the shoulders. He pulled out his gun, cocked it and took aim atthe centre of the letter “H.” Just then, his phone rang, it said: LANCE, he picked it up. Lancelot spoke: “Hey,you’re bringing the script this eve, right.” Lancelot didn’t say it like a question; it was an order.

“Yeh, don’t worry, Lance!” Carter faked the excitement, looking at the hills.

“Alright then, I’ll be waiting with my six o’ cock!”

“Ha!” Carter said.

Lancelot dropped the call.

Lancelot, you fucking pig.

Carter made his way downstairs – thinking about the woman in the photo – when he bumped into Jenson. “Yeh, it’s me, kid,” Jenson said with a dry smile.

“What do you want, Jenny?” Carter said, expressionless.

“C’mon now. Stop callin’ me that,” Jenson’s face said he really didn’t want to be called that.

“Look, we’re done, Jenson. I don’t want anything to do with you.”

“Why’s that, I’m still your agent.”

“Because,” Carter paused; he thought about whether he should tell Jenson what he was going out to do; “What is it, Carter?” Jenson interrupted his thought.

“Why do you not like being called Jenny?” Carter asked genuinely.

Jenson’s old face sighed with grief, “Alright, this was a bad idea,” Jenson turnedbut Carter grabbed him by his arm,tightly, so he turned around. “Look, I don’t know what’s wrong with you, kiddo. We’ve been through so much during all this time,” a tear fell out of Jenson’s eye, “and now you’re nothing like yourself no more!”

Jenson pushed Carter away as he broke down, the beautiful people passed by, “Carter, I came here and made a man of myself, b-but my father,” Jenson’s face was blurry behind the tears, “whenever you call me Jenny, it reminds me of him. Him and his friends, ya’ know.”

Carter nerves were tightening, “These fuckin’ pigs I’m sorry Jenson. I really am. I didn’t know all this time,” he went ahead to hug Jenson, who pushed him away, “I don’t want no gals thinking I’m something I ain’t.”

Both laughed with tears in their eyes.

Jenson said, “Nobody gives a fuck in this town, Carter. Last night when you and I were drinkin’, some hobo was lyin’ dead outside; they didn’t even take his body until this morning cause nobody cared for him, then nobody claimed him. He was lyin’ there, dead! And nobody gave a shit!” Jenson shouted at the expensive cars passing by, “These fuckers!”

“I know,” Carter said, trying to calm Jenson down, “What do you know, Carter? You were just sitting there, drunk like me. We’re part of the scum; we passed by the man we didn’t even-”

“He wanted to die so I killed him.”

Jenson’s lips circled around his greasy teeth, the tears werecrystal on his blank face, like a canvas. “What’re ya’ saying, kiddo?” Jenson asked,shaking, as he took a step back.

“I killed him cause he wanted to die, Jenson.”

Jenson started, “You’re crazy?! You-”

“Stop!” Carter shouted as he got closer to Jenson, “if you saw your daughter get raped in front of your eyes by one of one of the most powerful people in this town, in this country, you wouldn’t want to live,now, would you?”

“What do ya’ mean?” Jenson asked.

“Remember when Lance came by the pub?”

“That-that was like two weeks–”

“Lance exited out the backdoor, but even two hours later we found his car outside the pub only? Remember? All his men were sweating like they’d just seen a ghost?”

“Yeh-yeh-yeh, so that was–”

“That’s cause we caught him do something we weren’t supposed to. Why do you think you know about that hobodyin’ but not his daughter vanishing? Because it was Lance. You and I go up there today we won’t be coming back, Jenson. Go home.”

“C’mon Carter, this is-is crazy you know that?” Jenson tried to slander it.

“You know it, Jenson, you know the stories we hear about him. Yet nobody says nothing, then when it comes out, they’re all on the good side suddenly.”

“Oh Carti-boy I’m worried about you.”

“You were thinking about retiring right? After one last film?” Carter asked.


“You’ll receive a mail, probably, don’t throw it away alright? Try to sell it. See if somebody wants it.”


“Just do it, Jenson. I love you baby, but this it,” Carter looked past Jenson, “Oh, and I’ve left your daughter my will, whatever I’ve got left. My goddaughter.”

“C’mon Carter, what’re ya’ going to do?”

“Somebody will tell it Jenson. Somebody will tell my story.”


Lancelot was watching a game when his young assistant-to-be-actress came into the room and said, “Mr. Carter’s come here to visit.”

“Well, bring that ass here first,” Lancelot replied, with a grin on his face.

The assistant-to-be-actress sat on Lancelot’s lap as he smiled and took out his phone, biting her earlobe, he took a picture of her chest. “Don’t get my face in, yeh Lance?” she asked, rather uncomfortably. Lance’s smile vanished; the young woman gulped down the nothingness in the air.

The grin came back, rougher now, “You know who the fuck I am, right?” Lancelot said calmly.

“Y-You’re Lance,” she replied with a helpless quiver in her voice.

“No,” he said, “I’m Mr. Big Dick Lance-fucking-lot, now Mr. who?”

“Mr. B-big Dick Lance–”

“Mr. Big Dick Lance-fucking-lot who can make your mother stand naked here and shoot a two-hour film of her,” Lance said, smiling; the young woman kept gulping,“Get up and take off your top, then bring Carter in. Go.”

She replied, “Yes, Lance.”

The assistant-to-be-actress unbuttoned her shirt and took it off. Lance was watching the game now; the woman turned around, hesitatingly, she started walking towards the door.

“Hey!” Lance shouted, the woman turned around and heard a ka-chick. “Now I got your face and entire body,” Lance said, “Get the fuck out now.”

Outside Carter saw a half-naked woman walk up to him, tears rolling down her to her neck. The assistant-to-be-actress had imagined Lance’s friend would be just like him.

Carter looked away, “Cover yourself. Are you one of his–”

“N-no,” the woman said immediately, “he’s in t-the room straight down–”

“Yeah, I saw where you came from.”

Carter passed by the woman, “Hey, I think you should leave.”

“Why?” She asked, then she retracted from it. “Yeah, okay. But my top–”

“Then sit here. Don’t come in. No matter what you hear, just wait–” he glanced over his pocket watch, “–for ten minutes.”


Lancelot was still watching the game when Carter walked in.

“Hope I’m not disturbing Lance,” Carted said quietly.

“Oh no, no. Did you check out the whore outside?” Lance said, his eyes still sealed to the game.


“You wanna fuck her?”

“Yeah sure,” Carter replied, he knew Lancelot wanted to hear that.

“Look, I really want something new; all your recent stuff has been crap.”

Carter said, “It’s a good story; I don’t know if everyone will like it, though.”

“Oh yeah? Tell me!” Lance said with feigned enthusiasm.

“It’s about this man, this Hollywood guy. He does nothing all his life, suffers nothing, knows nothing, but still gets lucky, you know like Forrest Gump.”

“Except for everything that makes him Forrest Gump, right,” Lance said.

Carter continued, “Exactly Lance, Forrest Gump would never not respect and love Jenny Curran.”

“That’s cause he was a cuck!” Lance turned his head for a second and laughed hysterically.

“Yeah! Well, you know, god’s watching though, and god watches this guy take on the world, but there are limits, and he crossed the limit–”,Lance interrupted, still looking at the television, “Just hand me the script Carter, I’ll look at it on my flight to Bangkok, to Bang-cock!”

“–So, this guy goes out one night, to meet his lowlife friends at some pub, goes back out, finds the first thing that moves, and rapes a homeless girl in front of her father, knowing he’s her father, for some fucked up reason.”

Lance turned around; a gun pointed at him. “Carter, Iknew you fuckin’ nutjob!”

“Redemption isn’t the same as revenge. And all I’ve everwantedis redemption!”

Two shots in the crotch. Two more in the heart. One last in the head.

The half-naked assistant-to-be-actress heard the shots, not knowing who had shot whom she decided to run but she was half-naked, at this point it didn’t matter. Just then, the prompt went on, and Carter’s calm voice said: “Take your clothes by the door but don’t look inside, it’s allred in here. I’ll hand you a bundle – don’t worry, it’s not got a bomb or anything, it’s a script. I want you to simply mail it, nothing else just mail it.”

When she came by the door, she was handed a neatly died bundle in a brown packageaddressed to Mr. Jenson R. Miller, along with her shirt.

She didn’t look inside but the shirt cuff of Mr. Carter was covered in some red spots and something along the line of squished liquid meat. The woman almost puked, but she coughed and asked, “What’re you going to do with him, Mr. Carter?”

“I don’t know. There’s not any cameras here, right?”

“No, other than the garage.Lance wasn’t paranoid about the house; he didn’t care for the house.”

“Good. Now I want you to overflow the water in this house, turn on the gas in the kitchen and throw something on it, wait,” Carter paused, the woman heard his footsteps echo in the distance, she wanted to peek inside, look at Lance’s dead body once, just to make sure.She saw Carter lifting Lance’s dead body, there was no head there, so Carter struggled to take Lance’s jacket off. It was gross but somewhat amusing, like skinning a teddy bear.

She backed off at the right second.

“Here take this, throw this on the stove and everything else you can find,then just get out,” Carter explained.

“What’re you going to do?”

“I’m going to enjoythis. This redemption.”

The six-million-dollar mansion was overflowing, the kitchen’s gas leaking, setting on fire. Now this was the perfect scene for the ending, as Carter gulped down the poisonous air, the water, the heat.

Someone once told Carter that the most remarkable story a writer can tell is their own life, and that someone was Jenson.

So, Jenson would get it. He would write the ending; Carter knew he would.

The monologue. That was the only thing that needed to change, and he had changed it the night before, withthe words that came to him when he was asked to put the bullet in the homeless man, by the homeless man.


Welcome to Los Angeles: The Toilet of America.

Here’s where you’ll find the best of the best – theglamour, the lights, the darkness, the money, the fame, the abused, the abusers, the big houses, the hills, the attention seekers,therapists, the smugglers.

Welcome to Los Angeles: The City of Dreams, where people like me come with dreams and end in flames. People like me who feed the evil underbelly of this town in the façade of the bright lights. People like me, who are lost and purposeless.

Find your way.

Welcome to Los Angeles: The City of Dreams.

Oh, how we ruined it.

Udbhav Rai

Udbhav Rai is an eighteen-year-old writer residing in India. His creative inspiration comes from writers like Philip K. Dick and Albert Camus. After recently being published in Flash Fiction North, he aims to write hybrid-genre stories that stem from little things as individual emotions to larger subjects about existential crisis.

Write A Comment