Chapter 1:

Goodbye and Hello, Cruel World


I hear that drowning is the most pleasant way to die. I love the feel of the water, it makes you feel so weightless and free. Nobody can judge me down here. My name is Robert Fishman, some people call me Bobby, but I don't really like it that much. I spend most of my time playing video games. I own several consoles. I don't go outside very much. I ate nothing yesterday. And today, I had my last supper—got plans to eat anything else again. All I need in life is me, and my games.

Now that I lost the game, it's game over for me. Time to pull the plug on my miserable little life. I'll miss the games, I hope they get passed on to an avid game collector.

I like being alone, but I hate feeling lonely. The world gave up on me years ago. The only friends I ever truly have are numbness, tragedy and emptiness. I've been thinking out it for years. I have no real place in the world anymore. I can't be the laughing figure of the town forever.

Video games are the only thing that keep me going nowadays. But on the days when I can't even get out of bed in the morning, I ask myself, why am I still here? I have no idea what's going on in the outside world anymore. I don't even know if the Queen is still alive.

I only go out once a week. I hide in the cemeteries every Sunday, then walk around in the local aquarium or when there's no one around admire the flowers in the local park. I'd join in the church service...but I feel as if I'm not welcome there.

"Man up! You big puff!" Sarah's words vibrate in my head. It's been ten years since the divorce, and I can still hear her whinging echoing in my head. My ex-wife has always been a dominatrix. She likes being in control. We always argued. I don't know why she still uses my name. She made it clear by her actions that she was only interested in my money.

I don't know why. I'm on benefits – I get £400 a month. It barely covers my bills. The only reason I survive is because my grandpa always sends me money through online banking. For man in his 80's, he's got more charisma than me.

I rarely go on Facebook, but when I do, I see pictures of him dancing in every nightclub in England. He looks like one of those old pimps with his trench coat and Cuban cigars. It's creepy in a way, but he wants to go out with a bang. I wonder how many aunts and uncles I have out there in prams? He doesn't acknowledge any children other than my father and Uncle Ryan – and they died. My dad died from a diabetic coma and my uncle Ryan died in a car crash. In both cases, doctors blamed alcohol for their death.

As for my death, the doctors will pin it on the drugs in my breakfast muffins. Speaking of grandpa, he's sends me a message on his phone, "You need to go outside and get some fresh air!" All these things that Grandpa and other people tell me to do. It's okay for them – they don't suffer with depression the way I do. I know that they're only trying to help, but it's only making it worse. I've already made my mind up. I've had enough. It's time for me to go.

I don't know how to describe my depression. It's either an illness, or a madness, or both. I don't know how it got there, it won't leave. It's like a flame burning you in the inside. The monsters always knocking on your skull. I can't see these monsters and demons mocking me their own amusement, but I can feel them. They won't hurt me anymore.

Far away from my rotten suburb town, I breath in the Dutch air. I got here by train. Now that I'm standing on the docks of Amsterdam, I'm ready to do it. There's a nice Chinese Restaurant floating by the river. It's rightfully called Sea Palace. I'm glad I chose it as the place to have my last supper. It's better than the grubby takeaways in my street. It does nice food. I haven't eaten so much in a long time.

My feet are just a millimetre away from the water, I think of my last words – I thanked a waitress.

But I ask myself, what am I thankful for? I look at what's in my zipped pocket: an old set of rosary beads and a wedding ring. Why should I be thankful? Thankful for what could have been? Should I be grateful for all the things that are now gone from my life?

There's no reason for me stay. It's time to take my departure. I'm full from the feast, I should be able to sink quicker. I'm not afraid of the water. I fantasize about living by the sea and having my own swimming pool. Funny how all these dreams come right at you when you're about to die.

I open my arms out. My body tilts forward as I jump in. The water welcomes me as I close my eyes and think of death. The splashing from the surface and the bubbles around me feel euphoric.

I don't know how deep I am, but my body feels heavy and I feel as if my lungs are about to explode. It's the adrenaline rush controlling my body. There's flashbacks tinted in blues and greens from when I was younger. But they come and go so quick, I can't make much sense of them.

My body curls over as my head tilts below a shining light. I don't know if this is normal, but I can see a hand reaching out for me. It draws nearer to me. Then two hands become one. I can't make out anything else beyond the hand and the lights. This could be it, or it might also be the effects of eating hash cakes for breakfast and lunch. I don't know what's going on anymore. I can't care anymore. I know that the pain will pass, and I will get my happy ending. I'll be with my sister again, my only true friend.

Something is crushing against my chest and is taking me towards the light. My vision fades to blue blurs. It starts to get dark, this is where I take my last breath.

Goodbye, cruel world...I won't miss you.


Two palms press beneath my chest. I cough out water and it stings to open my eyes. It's a young man panting above me. He smiles at me as I'm a good friend of his, but I've never met this guy before. He looks like one of those movie stars with those muscles.

"You all right there," he says to me. "So glad my Grandma taught me how to swim. And it's a good thing I was here too, eh Bobby?"

I roll my eyes. I don't like it when people call me Bobby. My sister and parents always called me their little Bobby. I know it's just a silly little nickname, but it triggers this aching feeling like something is dragging me to the floor. I close my eyes, hoping it's just a dream and I'll wake up as a spirit free from the pains of human life. I want to be back with my family.

"Who are you?" I ask him. My fists clench. If I had the strength, I would punch him. My face feels frozen and it hurts to speak.

He slaps my face. Nope. Still alive. Goddammit. "Of course, you know who I am. I'm Todd Patrick."

"Why did you save me?"

"I had no choice," Todd yells.

"Can't you see that I want to die?"

"Kathleen would never forgive me if I let you do that."

I remember a tombstone with three names on it—my parents and my sister. "You know my sister?"

"I'm dating your sister," he says to me, "and we're going to meet up and get married soon. We've been dating for ten years."

I sit up and with my mouth wide open. Is this some sort of sick joke? Is he thinking of a different Robert Fishman? "Are you sure I'm the right Robert Fishman?"

Todd nods. "The one and only. I'd recognise you anywhere. She's sent me lots of pictures of you. I met your sister online and she rang me on Skype last night."

"But Todd..." I stammer. Somebody is playing a cruel trick. At the same time, it's nice that even beyond the grave, my sister still has her ways of looking out got me. "Kathleen passed away ten years ago."

He squeezes my shoulders, digging his nails right to my bones. "We need to get you to the hospital – PRONTO!"

"I don't...need..." Why are my words not coming out?

"You don't have to speak." He stands me up with little effort. "Let's get you checked up before you catch hypothermia."

Limping away from him, I drag myself outside Starbucks. Still choking, my head leans against the door. My body's shaking like a leaf. Teeth clattering, I don't even know if I'm making much sense. "Look, I don't need the hospital."

"You won't be able to get a coffee now," Todd told me, "it's closed."

"I don't want to go to the hospital."

"If you're not going to the hospital, then at least tell me where you're staying."

I could lie and say I'm staying at one of these hotels, but what could would that be? "I haven't booked accommodation."

Todd gasps. "Why not?"

Slouching to my knees, I try to crawl back to the water. Kathleen's silhouette glimmers underneath its surface. I nod at Todd. "I know you're only trying to help, but I can't live like this anymore."

"Come on," Todd screams, "now you're just milking it."

My huffing silences out his pleas, if you could call it that. I don't care what he says anymore. There must be a better world than this. Happiness is all I crave, and I know it's not on Earth. "I'm sorry."

"Shit!" Why does Todd have to be so loud? Can't he be more considerate towards the people who are trying to sleep? He's going to cause a scene. "Get up off the floor. You can stay in my room."

Images of my family appear before me in a kaleidoscope vision as I roll back onto the bridge and feel the water. There's goldfish flying through the sky, following a purple whale with a golden crown.

The beautiful imagery is destroyed when Todd pounces on me. The last thing I feel is Todd's fist thrusting my senses away. What a good punch.

Hello, cruel world. You love playing these sick games on me, don't you?

Fishman Book Cover