I can say without equivocation I have never shot a pizza guy for being 13 seconds late with a delivery.
I have never shot anyone for any reason.
But I swear to you I have talked on the phone with people who I thought might be capable of drawing a gun from the waistband of their stretchy-waist Lees and aiming it at my face.
In my former job as a newspaperman I took many calls from irate readers, and some of those folks sounded as if they might apply the same corrective strategy – to me! At least once a person threatened to shoot me. I wasn’t worried – people say lots of things but hardly ever do what they say they will. But the boss was sufficiently worried to call the cops, who counseled the person in question. Problem solved.
But in my mind the voice of the furious caller, the person on the other end who was brooding about a perceived slight, lingered afterward and inspired me to write this story, a kind of gestalt for every angry voice I ever listened to over the telephone.
Only one way to respond:
Thank you and have a nice day.
13 Seconds: Revised, updated and enhanced with additional content, this flash fiction story will make you think twice about ordering out for pizza!
Quiggly is standing by the door, waiting on his pizza. He has a stopwatch.
And a gun.
Because the world is for shit anymore. Disposable cars, disposable jobs, even disposable people. Back in Quiggly’s day, things were better. Things were real. Things worked.
But not any more. Nobody cared about quality or service. All people wanted was their damn money, and they didn’t want to work very hard for it either.
They said he’d have his pizza within a certain number of minutes, and the pizza delivery boy was 13 seconds late. Thirteen seconds is 13 seconds, or has time changed too? Quiggly isn’t sure, but he knows one thing:
He’s going to get his pizza for free.
About the author:
Del Stone Jr. is a professional fiction writer. He is known primarily for his work in the contemporary dark fiction field, but has also published science fiction and contemporary fantasy. Stone’s stories, poetry and scripts have appeared in publications such as Amazing Stories, Eldritch Tales, and Bantam-Spectra’s Full Spectrum. His short fiction has been published in The Year’s Best Horror Stories XXII; Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine; the Pocket Books anthology More Phobias; the Barnes & Noble anthologies 100 Wicked Little Witch Stories, Horrors! 365 Scary Stories, and 100 Astounding Little Alien Stories; the HWA anthology Psychos; and other short fiction venues, like Blood Muse, Live Without a Net, Zombiesque and Sex Macabre. Stone’s comic book debut was in the Clive Barker series of books, Hellraiser, published by Marvel/Epic and reprinted in The Best of Hellraiser anthology. He has also published stories in Penthouse Comix, and worked with artist Dave Dorman on many projects, including the illustrated novella “Roadkill,” a short story for the Andrew Vachss anthology Underground from Dark Horse, an ashcan titled “December” for Hero Illustrated, and several of Dorman’s Wasted Lands novellas and comics, such as Rail from Image and “The Uninvited.” Stone’s novel, Dead Heat, won the 1996 International Horror Guild’s award for best first novel and was a runner-up for the Bram Stoker Award. Stone has also been a finalist for the IHG award for short fiction, the British Fantasy Award for best novella, and a semifinalist for the Nebula and Writers of the Future awards. His stories have appeared in anthologies that have won the Bram Stoker Award and the World Fantasy Award. Two of his works were optioned for film, the novella “Black Tide” and short story “Crisis Line.”
Stone recently retired after a 41-year career in journalism. He won numerous awards for his work, and in 1986 was named Florida’s best columnist in his circulation division by the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors. In 2001 he received an honorable mention from the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association for his essay “When Freedom of Speech Ends” and in 2003 he was voted Best of the Best in the category of columnists by Emerald Coast Magazine. He participated in book signings and awareness campaigns, and was a guest on local television and radio programs.
As an addendum, Stone is single, kills tomatoes and morning glories with ruthless efficiency, once tied the stem of a cocktail cherry in a knot with his tongue, and carries a permanent scar on his chest after having been shot with a paintball gun. He’s in his 60s as of this writing but doesn’t look a day over 94.
Contact Del at firstname.lastname@example.org. He is also on Facebook, twitter, Pinterest, tumblr, TikTok, Ello and Instagram. Visit his website at delstonejr.com .
About this book:
“13 Seconds” is a 701-word short story. It was originally published in “Horrors! 365 Scary Stories,” 1998, Barnes & Noble.
The book’s total length is 2,498 words.
(Cover image courtesy of William Warby of Flickr under the auspices of a Creative Commons license.)