The Friday Review: Telephone 6

When I told Marc Barnes on Facebook that I had read and enjoyed his first short story, he told me that he hated it. In fact, he promised a better one in the future.

If he hates this, I can’t wait to see what he calls a better one.

Telephone 6 creates an unforgettable character in the first few paragraphs. She’s a 911 operator, the voice that answers the nightly cries for help. Which is funny, because she’s something of a cry for help in herself. She’s pale, frail and stares at her red fingernails. She keeps a device to play sounds of the ocean while she answers her calls. We never learn her name, but we don’t have to. I can picture her far more clearly than dozens of named, boring characters I’ve read in my life.

Even before she gets one call in particular, she’s a nervous wreck. When she receives that one call, she makes a sudden and bold decision that flips her night upside-down.

I won’t tell you what it is. Suspense is better when you’re not told the details beforehand. It would have been cliche, if our operator didn’t do what she does.

What I will tell you is that watching her doing is worth all 100 pennies that you pay for this short story.

That’s not to say it’s perfect. It ends like a Hallmark movie, and the writing can be a little too artsy. Marc has a bunch of sentences that cry out for shortening, and several paragraphs that I longed to split in two.

But through the sheer force of that 911 operator, I can forgive that. You should too. Telephone 6 is far from from perfect, but it deserves your dollar. It’s suspenseful, it leaves a mark, and it heralds a storytelling talent that I want to keep an eye on.

What are you waiting for? Go get it at Smashwords!

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