One Eight Six

With the exception of sharing a link to a piece of fiction I recently wrote for another website, it has now been over a year since I last published a post. Because it has been so long, a lot of people have begun to ask whether I still write. And the answer is, absolutely. Over the past twelve months I’ve been just as busy as ever, writing and partially editing a novel, as well as producing a handful of entries for this site that I ultimately decided against posting.

For the most part, my aversion to publishing the entries that I’ve written comes from the fact that they are a lot darker than pieces that I would typically share. They’re posts written by a man who after more than a decade of writing is trying to comprehend what comes next for him in a creative sense. They’re poorly constructed and overflowing with more questions than answers regarding the continued existence of this blog. While they’ll never be shared with the anyone other than myself, they’ve been instrumental in my decision to keep this site alive despite updating it so rarely.

Yet despite the roughshod nature of my recent attempts to create something worth reading, I’ve found myself thinking more and more about updating this site over the past few weeks. So, rather than post something that I will eventually regret publishing, I decided to do something different for entry number 186 on this site and share a draft version of the prologue from the manuscript that I have been working on.

In Brunch, a simple meal shared with a soon to be former flame quickly spirals into a fight for survival. When Mack Trevor, a fast-talking builder from Boston agrees to meet his girlfriend at a cafe in Back Bay, he knows that the meal is going to be uncomfortable. The couple are ill-fitted, have almost nothing in common, and are both aware that their relationship is coming to an end.

What Mack doesn’t know, is that sitting in the same restaurant is Detective Paige Greco; a police officer with a bounty on her head who has relocated from Los Angeles to Boston as part of the witness protection program. Mack and Paige have never met. But by the time their meals and his relationship are over, they’ll both be running for their lives.

I hope that you enjoy the excerpt below…


When Mack Trevor’s girlfriend asked to meet for brunch at a small café on the edge of Back Bay, he never imagined that the meal would end with him running for his life. Yet just a little more than an hour after he’d ordered coffee and a plate of overpriced eggs, here he was splashing water on his face with trembling hands in a restroom halfway across Boston, wondering how his world had turned to shit so quickly.

He had known that brunch was going to be uncomfortable even before he had agreed to meet Danika. They’d been dating for almost six months and were entering that dreaded phase every new relationship goes through, where the novelty of having a partner starts to fade away and you begin to question what it was that attracted you to the other person in the first place, and if it’s still enough for you to stick around.

What he had initially seen in Danika Mitchell was obvious: the girl was a total smoke-show. Her auburn hair, tanned skin, endlessly-deep hazel eyes and gym-toned body were so damn sexy that his jaw had almost hit the floor the first time that they’d met. Yet despite her drop-dead gorgeous looks, the lack of mutual interests between them and their inability to maintain a conversation were becoming increasingly apparent to him – and even starting to severely dampen her sex appeal.

At twenty-nine years of age, Mack was a builder by day and sports fanatic by night. During football season he sat in the bitter cold and watched the Patriots move a pigskin over an icy field. In basketball season he barracked for the Celtics in TD Garden when he could track down reasonably priced seats. And come baseball season he pulled on his Red Sox cap and cheered until his throat was hoarse.

Danika hated sport – and just about anything else that he was into, which made spending time together tough. Her interests were limited to the world within her smart phone and finding ways to hone the online version of herself that would lure in scores of new followers. He could not care less about his online profile. 

During the first two months of their relationship she’d happily tagged along to a few sporting events despite her disinterest, rapidly stabbing at the screen of her phone with the pads of her thumbs as she posed her way through hundreds of selfies and status updates. But after a while she decided that her followers had grown tired of seeing her hanging out at sports games in her casual wear, and he’d suddenly found himself sucked into a world of café culture and pretentious black-tie events where he didn’t quite fit in.

It wasn’t that he didn’t enjoy dressing up – Mack had always considered himself to be a half-way decent-looking guy, and he must have scrubbed up alright: he’d bagged Danika Mitchell after all. It was just that he hated the way that most of the events she dragged him to seemed more centred around having your picture taken to create an illusion of having fun, rather than actually having some fun. 

Most of Danika’s friends were stiffs too, the kind of people who had been spoon-fed opportunities their entire lives. They didn’t know how to talk to a guy that worked with his hands, and they didn’t want to learn how, which meant that he spent a hell of a lot of time at the parties she dragged him to cradling an overpriced beer and standing around while she gossiped with her friends. But he tried to never let on that he was bored – he wasn’t that much of a self-centred asshole that he would ruin her nights. Instead he feigned interest in what little small talk was offered to him, and made his own fun by dancing, pounding a few shots and striking up conversations with bartenders. 

Come on Mack, focus. Why the fuck does any of that matter right now?

There was a woman that he’d never met before today sitting in the passenger seat of his truck, just outside the restroom. The woman had pointed a gun at his head in the alley that ran alongside the café where he’d met Danika, and now they were on the run together. He wasn’t sure who she was, or who or what they were running from. All he knew for certain was that he and Danika had called it quits with a conversation in the café, he’d stepped into the alley outside and a few seconds later a bullet had struck the side of the building just over his shoulder, sending concrete shards and grit into his face.

Danika had taken the break-up well. Her mood had already been upbeat after he’d let her talk him into choosing his meal, one that was light on taste but easy on the eye so that she could post a picture of their plates side by side online before they had the talk. She had nodded when he’d said that he felt like there wasn’t much communication between them, and that they had been growing distant. Then, as if able to read what was coming next, or maybe having already reached a similar conclusion herself, she had cut him off mid-sentence and dropped the hammer on him, suggesting that they break up.

He’d let the words settle into the space between them, pushing the last forkful of eggs into his mouth as he realised that he should have known when she had artfully angled her camera to ensure that there was no part of him present in the photographs of their meals that she had also decided that their relationship had reached its end.

She’d left not long after that, leaving him alone to drain what remained of his coffee from his mug and to pick up the bill. She hadn’t even offered to pay, and he hadn’t asked. He had paid for so many bland yet highly photographable meals throughout the past six months that doing so one last time seemed like a fitting climax to their time together.

He’d fixed up the bill and left, and then everything had gone to hell. Now here he was, staring at his reflection as he dried his hands on a piece of paper towel so thin that it crumbled in his hands, wondering how something as innocent as brunch had led to whatever was waiting for him on the other side of the restroom door. 

Author: Chris Nicholas

Chris Nicholas is an author from Brisbane, Australia. He has published two novels, and is currently working on his third.

58 thoughts on “One Eight Six”

  1. Actually I have ZERO interest in either of these characters. “Sports fanatic” Pass. “…on line version of herself…” Pass.

    I do realize how common these types may be – but I want nothing to do with them – their values are fucked up.

    1. Geez. I’m not particularly drawn to the real life version of these people either, but this is great writing in my opinion. Tight and readable structure, good foreshadowing, etc. I want to know what happens. Sometimes using common traits like this can leave more room for the plot to breathe. Versus if they were both some complicated and unusual people, I’d be too distracted by their unconventional traits to focus on the events .

  2. Great to see you back… I have wondered where you have been… Actually began to think I imagined your blog. I enjoyed reading this post especially about your process as a writer.

  3. I relate; I have quite a few blog post drafts for which I will never click “publish.” They’re more like journal entries I used to process what I was thinking at the time. The beginning of “Brunch” intrigues me; I’d like to see how Mack develops as a character, some back story on him, etc. Thanks for sharing it.

  4. As a writer, you must write, be those words for yourself or for others. I love that you have put thought into not only your words but also the ways you wish to move forward. May the words flow!

  5. About a year ago I inhaled a large amount of your blog one night. I then went to buy your books but there wasn’t a kindle version and I didn’t want to deal with international shipping, I recall. I was bummed. You are a dynamo. One time you liked one of my blog posts and I was embarrassed that you even looked at my blog because you’re so good 😉. It’s like if freakin’ Thomas Wolfe from the 20’s liked one of my posts.

  6. And……what an excellent start! Welcome back and glad, I’m sure glad he got out of that relationship and into this exciting one. Boy, what a story he’ll have to tell his friends 😁

  7. Thank you for being honest about the boundaries you honour in your work, and for sharing this sneak peak into the world of Mack Trevor. I celebrate you today! Merci!

  8. Kind of fun to learn you are writing a book. I’ve considered writing a cook book. Now that this info is in the “Universe out loud” I may have to do it.

    I haven’t written much this past year or so because the world has looked so grim. Even today Covid is tearing through the lives and families in India. It’s so sad. I often think about my ancestors who lived through the civil war, World War I or the 1918 pandemic. My family is okay so far, with the exception of my mother in law and her uncle, and my husband’s 60 year old cousin who have all passed in the last year.

    The best part of the last 6 months have been the time I’ve had raising chickens. They are a hoot!

    Good luck with the book. Can’t wait to hear more…

  9. Thank you for sharing both the part of your journey, and the beginning of Mack’s journey. You’ve set a clear scene and built enough suspense to draw me in and left me keen for more of the story!

  10. Thanks so much for the Like on my recent chapter!

    I am enjoying your works as well and decided to follow your site . Thanks again, as I am just starting out trying to post my writing.

  11. I’m a first time visitor and enjoyed you excerpt so much. I’m drawn in and now that Danika has wandered off with her head stuck in her phone… who is this lady cop, how is Mack involved and who shot the bullet in the alley??? Really good writing. If that was the sample offered on my Kindle I’d hit buy straight away!

  12. “Her mood had already been upbeat after he’d let her talk him into choosing his meal, one that was light on taste but easy on the eye so that she could post a picture of their plates side by side online before they had the talk.” 😂 This is so real

  13. Chris, I’m so glad I found tour site. Love this work! You’ve made a great decision to focus on this, and your writing is entrancing. I am with you on not publishing some of your darker posts, too. If a draft post takes a dark turn for me, it doesn’t make it to posting.

  14. I know all too well the phenomenon of writing blog posts that will never be published–except I am stupid enough to publish them. I get paranoid and ashamed, wondering what people would think, and then delete them. Too dark, too honest, too controversial.

    Speaking of Mack and Danika, I can relate to both characters. On the one hand, I can remember one failed relationship where I just couldn’t stop myself from using social media too much. On the other hand, I remember dating pop culture individuals I had nothing in common with, and tolerating shallow and pedantic dialogue that I had no love for.

    Good blog entry! Hope all is well with you.

  15. Can’t wait to read what happens with Mack! Your writing is excellent!

    Also, have you found the answers to your questions yet? Like will you be continuing writing or not?

    I hope you’ve been working on your book. You’ve got talent.

  16. Glad you found your literary sea legs again. And always remember: You can take a break from writing, but you can never take a break from being a writer. Good luck out there on the high seas of life.

  17. And again, nearly another year has past since your last post… Yet, I know you are still “active” as you recently liked a post of mine.
    You write beautifully, I hope you consider sharing something again in the near future–even something dark in nature, as in these times we all have struggles…. Remember, through dark times can come writing of beauty ❤️
    I hope you are doing well

  18. Hi Chris, thank you for visiting my blog. My post was really just spilling out my thoughts, but I’m flattered that you took the time to read and like it.

    The excerpt from your novel is beautifully crafted, and I especially enjoyed the details you included that helped me to feel the real-life grit of the scene (i.e. the thinness of the paper towel that Max grabbed, etc.).

    I look forward to reading more of your writing, as I know that I can learn from and be inspired by it. Thank you again!

  19. Incredible! You are definitely my kind of author. Your style is relatable yet distinctive, highly descriptive (which is always a bonus), easy to read but not pandering and totally enjoyable. It’s the type of gritty story that grabs you from the first sentence and doesn’t let go. Compelling and compulsive reading. I can’t wait for the next part!

  20. Edit those dark pieces, if you must, but do share them! You’re a writer, after all. I started blogging because I needed to share my ramblings before I went more insane. What I write now is less intense than those early years, usually, but a tiny bit more sane, at least. Or so I believe.

  21. Was just stopping in to see if any new posts I missed. Hope you are well. You stand out to me in the blogging world. Hope you are able to write again soon, though I understand not all that is on our hearts is meant to be shared with the world.

  22. Great story, being on unequal footing in a relationship can cause troubles. Especially when you have nothing in common.

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