There’s this neat trick they do in television, especially in hour long TV dramas. It’s called a teaser and its sole purpose is to make you want more. It usually ends with a cliffhanger just so you don’t change the channel when that lengthy commercial break starts.
Sometimes the teaser is a glimpse of a scene close to the end of that episode. This is how I’m going to begin my story – with a short scene close to the end.
I guess the first thing you should know is where this scene is taking place.
Imagine a centuries old oak forest, one that would creep most people out. Huge trees, rotten carcasses, contorted ghosts. Boughs, now useless limbs, lying on the ground.
The second thing you should know is “when.”
Henry James thought “summer afternoon” to be the two most beautiful words in the English language. So let’s say that’s our “when.”
Summer afternoon. I bet you’re thinking about sunlight slipping through thousands of leaves, twigs greedily stretching skyward. But maybe it’s cloudy, maybe fog curls around leaves and branches, a trembling embrace. The forest has its own sounds that appear to be most sinister.
Your lungs gasping for air, you’re drowning in that sea of ash-colored fog. You can’t tell what is what, you fill every shadow with doubt.
After all, you can only see what you’ve been taught to see. In this case, a labyrinth with no way out. It doesn’t take much for your reason to become a mere echo inside your head.
But just for the sake of that paradise I painted inside your mind with only two words, just for that sake, let’s say that it is indeed a sunny summer afternoon. Green leaves flutter in the warm breeze. The forest is filled with the rich odor of flowers.
Well, last but not least, you should know who the characters are and what they are doing. The only character worth mentioning is a guy named Oscar. And he’s lying on the grass, with his hands folded over his stomach. Blood is dripping on the ground, his white shirt is slowly turning red, the spot around his hands expanding every second. His face is a web of contracted muscles.
Me, I’m on my knees, digging a hole with my bare hands. What’d you expect me to do? I only met the guy three days earlier. My body is there, I can feel the mud underneath my fingernails, the warm sun caressing my face, death poisoning the air around me. But my mind, well, my mind is someplace else. The half that’s supposed to care, the half that’s supposed to wave hands like a maniac, you know, that half that’s supposed to try to stop the bleeding or offer some comfort. Well, that half’s just missing.
“I’m dying!” he says, his left arm tearing tiny blades of grass around his inert body, his voice a mere murmuring shadow of life.
“No, you’re not.” I stop digging and look at him with as much compassion as a soulless person is capable of mustering.
The funny thing is that he’s a doctor, so he must know these sorts of things. And, well, I guess most people are capable of understanding that they’re going to die, but they just can’t accept it. Fate is always too cruel. We’re always so stubborn.
I put my hand on his burning forehead. He rolls over and crouches, his knees touching his chest. His bloody fingers balled into fists, his entire body arched and shaking. Blood still gushing through the hole in his shirt.
It’s such a beautiful day. The perfect day to die.
I turn him over on his back and take a look into his eyes. They feel empty, cold. His soul should be exiting his body just about now. His mind is telling his soul, “Please, vacate the premises.” When blood starts dripping from his mouth, making its way down his cheeks, that’s when I freak out. I take a few steps back.
“Goddamit!” A long shriek reverberates around his soon to be dead body.
It’s the sunniest, hottest day ever and I can swear I see his cold, smoky breath hovering over his head, lingering in the blinding light like an aura. Then, suddenly, it disappears.
After all, you can only see what you expect to see.
All I can think about is that this is not how this story is supposed to end.
When he stops blinking, when his chest stops moving, and his purple lips stop quivering, that’s when I realize he’s dead. This time he’s really, really dead.
Do you want to know how this feels? How I feel?
Have you ever shoved your hand inside a burrow? Inside one of those holes in the ground, covered by darkness even during the day? Just stretch your arm inside the void and close your eyes. Squeeze nothing in your hand as you make your way deeper and deeper. You don’t know what to expect.
We never know what’s going to happen.
But what could happen? What’s making the hair on your back stand up, what’s making your heart beat as fast as the wings of a hummingbird? After all, there are only about six hundred species of venomous snakes on the planet. And a lot more things with claws and fangs. But what’s really that terrifying that you can’t even breathe? Is it that disgusting not knowing what’s going to happen?
Suddenly, I start running through the battered trees, my legs trying to keep up with my desire to get as far away from Oscar’s dead body as possible. But, as anyone who has ever tried it can tell you, you can’t run away from a nightmare. I stop and try to catch my breath. My chest feels so heavy. This burning pain is piercing my stomach. There’s so much adrenaline flooding my veins. I can hear police sirens and people shouting, “Oscar, Oscar.”
I’m too tired and too scared to run away from them, so I close my eyes. The forest sends whispers of joy to my ears. I accept the warm embrace of the sun, my feet sink in the black soil, my lungs inhale the fresh, clean air.
All so quiet. All so still.
And then I open my eyes and see Oscar standing in front of me, his right hand covering the gunshot wound, dried blood painting his knuckles, and a dead man’s smile cutting through his face. He doesn’t look so good. Wretched creature…
I guess that what doesn’t kill you only makes you wish it did.
If you enjoy my writing and would also love to support me, I have a fantastic deal for you:
”I completely fell in love with Cristian Mihai’s beautiful way of writing. His main character, Chris Sommers, is an embodiment of realism. His persona was much attune to what some of us feel about ambition, love, and the realization of heartbreaking disappointment. I felt a connection to him in a much deeper level than I’ve ever known. Mihai’s writing style just reaches out to you, captures you – without letting go for a moment. It’s also very personal that you just can’t help but love the main protagonist. There were times where it pained me to stop reading because I wanted to note down my favorite quotes from the novel because it was just that amazingly brilliant.” – E.S. praise for Jazz.
Fourteen years of writing. Six years of Amazon releases. A lot of time and effort. Experimenting with style, technique, and storylines. This is what this e-book bundle is all about.
An e-book bundle containing my five major releases. And something special. At a special price.
Jazz – Read reviews on Goodreads here.
My first novel, an unrequited love story. Classic. I set out to write Jazz, owning nothing more than a few scattered images and the desire to write about Paris. I built my beautiful and mysterious woman, my young and naïve writer, and all the other characters in my story. And brick after brick I built my melancholic city.
Sometimes the characters let me in without complaining too much. I was allowed into their world the minute I punched the first keys. But other times it wasn’t like that. Other times I had to work hard to get in; I had to struggle to leave the real world behind.
”This book was very unexpected. It made me think about what is means to be a writer, what the process of creation means not only to the creator but to those who are affected by what has been written. Much of what Mihai says here will resonate with anyone who has ever struggled to put words on paper.” – Cynthia Dumarin, praise for The Writer.
The Writer – Read reviews on Goodreads here.
The Writer is also what some people might call Literary Fiction. With a touch of Magical Realism.
The Writer is Metafiction, meaning that it’s a novel about a writer writing a story.
The Writer is a frame-story. Jonathan Fisher somehow decides, on a mostly random basis, that he wants to read a story to the audience. Well, it’s not precisely the audience, because Jonathan Fisher is actually addressing a certain someone. Anyway, he still insists on reading from his short story collection.
And then there’s this guy, Jonathan Fisher. There’s something broken about him. He’s just an observer. That’s what makes him so frightening. He’s the kind of guy who’ll walk right past a woman getting mugged. He never intervenes. He’s happy to be a shadow. I know there are far worse people (and fictional characters) out there, but…
Dream City and Other Stories – Read reviews on Goodreads here.
A magnificent painting, a few memories in a notebook, a letter to his son. Paul is dying, and he wants one thing and one thing only: he wants to feel he’s in control. He doesn’t feel free anymore, just because a disease is eating away his life, so every morning when he wakes up he puts a gun to his temple and closes his eyes.
Like he says, “True freedom comes from the realization that you can kill yourself at any time.”
2:22 AM – Read reviews on Goodreads here.
You told her that you’d like to hold her hand.
“Why?” she asked.
“Because I could conquer the world… if only you’d hold my hand.”
She lay down her cup. She put it to the side of the table, then moved the ashtray next to it. Then she did the same with your cup. She put her hand on the table, palm up. And she said, “You’re brave, you know? To think that you can conquer the world with just one hand.”
2:22 AM is a short novel written from the perspective of two people who break up. They don’t want to, but it happens. The days go by, they both struggling to find comfort in the fact that the other one is never coming back.
”I was drawn in after reading the first page. Being a “hopeless” romantic I could empathize with both characters but I felt a connection with “him”. The authors description of loneliness, excitement, regret and pain is so intense, I became emotional while reading. It is gripping, honest and touching. Beautiful story…” – Melanie Lawson, praise for 2:22 AM.
closer is the story of a man who is so seduced by the desire to get rich that he becomes involved in a world where anything is permitted. His journey to the top is interrupted by the consequences of his past actions. Things become darker, more violent and more sexually disturbing than he could ever have imagined as he tries to break himself free from his past.
Deft, shocking and unforgettable, this gripping tale about risk, consequence and the treacherous balance between the two reveals a world where there’s nothing to separate right from wrong.
And a bonus. The Best of Cristian Mihai(2012-2017). Essays and blog posts. On art, life, love…
This e-book bundle is available for only
$19.99 $9.99 on my e-store here.