Contemporary Fiction

The Broken


This book will launch on Mar 26, 2021. Currently, only those with the link can see it. 🔒

In November of 1997, two young men make a suicide pact. That night, one of them dies. On the stereo - the song “Where I Go” by infamous rock band, The Broken.

From the streets of Paterson, NJ, to the heights of fame, The Broken follows the members of this band - Malcolm, Heather, Hayley, Eddie and Johnny - as they struggle to overcome their backgrounds, their identities - and ultimately the cost of fame. From the origins of the band in the early 90s to present day, The Broken asks the question: can you ever truly be free from your past - and from yourself?

The Incident

Eyes stare through the hair that hangs in front of his face. “It’s like, really heavy.” Voice is dull, monotone.

The other boy reaches out, touches it; takes it. “I know, right? I didn’t think they weighed so much.”

The first boy looks around the room; the piles of CDs, dirty clothes, the black window and closed door. The light’s dim—just a bedside lamp and the faint moon through the window. Heavy music plays quietly.

This is where I go / When there’s nothing else to know / When there’s nothing else to feel / What you told me was a lie / And I know that I’m not real / In your eyes

He pushes the glasses up on his nose. “I’m scared, man. I … I don’t know if I want to do this anymore.”

“The fuck, dude?” the second boy hisses through clenched teeth. “We swore. You promised!”

“I know, but like … I never really thought it was real!”

The second boy puts it down, reaches out for the other’s hands. He grips them, tight. “How do you feel, man? I mean like, think about yesterday. The day before. Before that. How many times have you said you wanted to?”

The boy with the glasses closes his eyes, swallows. His hands are trembling, despite the grip. A tear wells, trails down his cheek. “I can’t stand it. I can’t do this anymore!”

The second boy nods. “That’s what this is for, man. I promise you—it’s the fastest way. We won’t feel a thing.”

“What if we just … what if we just run away, right? I mean, we can just get our stuff and go, leave …”

“Go where? There’s nowhere to go, man. This shit … it just follows you. How many times have we tried to escape it? How many times do we stay up all night playing Quake because going to sleep means waking up the next day? You want to keep waking up?”

The boy with the glasses leans forward, head down, tears coming faster. “I want to sleep. I just want to sleep, never ever wake up.”

The second boy leans in, holds him. “That’s what it’s like. That’s just what it’s like.”

“I just can’t go back, you know? I can’t. I can’t.”

“We’re never going back. We’re never leaving this room.”

There’s a long pause, punctuated by the quieting sobs. Only once all is still, the cold wind outside the only disturbance, does the second boy sit up again. He reaches down, grasps the cold metal. Drags it from the floor, heavy in his hand. Hefts it up, looks it over closely.

“Is it even … is even like, loaded?”

“I don’t know. How do you tell?”

“Does it feel like there’s bullets in it?”


“What about the safety?”


Don’t they have things called a safety? So you can’t like, shoot it by mistake?”

The second boy turns it left and right, finds a small switch, flicks it. “Maybe that’s it?”

“Should we test it?”

The second boy shakes his head. “My parents’ll hear. We only get one shot. Each.”

“Dude, your parents … they’re going to have to clean up …”

“Fuck ’em. They couldn’t care less about me. They deserve whatever they get.”

“They don’t deserve that …”

“I hate them. I hate them so much. They act like they’re so great, and I’m the one that’s all fucked up. They’re fucked up. They deserve to see me dead.”

“You sure?”

“I want this, man. I fucking want it.” The second boy lifts it higher, rests a finger on the trigger. Slowly turns it around, digs the barrel into his Nine Inch Nails t-shirt. The muzzle presses the fabric around it, digging into the skin beneath. He drags it up, resting over his chest.

For an eternal moment, there’s only heavy breathing over the still-playing music.

This is what I need / When there’s nothing left to bleed / And I’ve given up a life / To be right there by your side / But you wouldn’t even try / In my eyes

Hands tremble around the grip, start to shake. Finger lifts on and off the trigger several times. Breath is stuck. Finally, he lowers the gun into his lap, breathes out heavily. “Fuck. Fuck!”

The first boy’s face is pale, frightened. “What’s wrong?”

“I can’t. I can’t do it. I thought I could, but I can’t.”

“Then what now?”

The second boy looks up suddenly, directly into the other’s eyes. There’s a sudden madness there. “I need you to do it.”

“What? No way—no way!”

“Look man, you said it yourself—we can’t go back. There’s no turning back. But … I can’t fucking do it myself.”

“I can’t! Are you crazy? What do I do after?”

“Look, you have to do it. It’ll take a half a second and it’s over. Then you can do yourself.”

“If you can’t even do it, how the hell am I supposed to?”

The second boy thrusts it at the first, presses it into his hands. “Do it.”

The first boy’s face glistens, eyes red and dull. “I can’t …” he whimpers.

The second boy takes the barrel, drags it toward his chest again. The other’s hands follow numbly, still holding the grip. The barrel keeps moving, up, coming to rest against his forehead. The metal presses into skin, a delicate red mark in its wake.

“Do it.”


“Please. You have to. You have to.”

“I can’t!”


“Oh my god … I can’t.”

“Fucking shoot me!”

He blinks at the spray. Little bright droplets covering face, glasses, shirt. Ringing is deafening in the shadow of a much greater noise. In less than a heartbeat the second boy is tossed back, thrown down, the carpet soaking the blood away from his ruined skull. The wall behind is a fiendish splatter, trails beginning to run down to the floor, little pieces of flesh in tow.

“What the hell was that?” Voice muffled, from downstairs.

Limbs are twitching, fingers opening and closing, digging into claws. Mouth moves silently, throat gurgling. Eyes are open, staring, dead.

Feet stomping, rushing up the stairs.

And then the boy seems to notice, a reverie broken. “Oh, Jesus … oh fuck, oh fuck … Justin? Justin?” The gun slowly lowers, then falls, hand still clenching the grip, finger curled around the trigger. The muzzle digs into the carpet. “Justin … ? Are you okay?”

A fierce knock at the bedroom door. “Kyle! Kyle? What happened? Are you okay?”

The boy’s breath is too fast, too shallow, skin too pallid. “Don’t … don’t come in.”

The door bursts open, Kyle’s father looming in the doorway. The hall is dark outside. “What on earth was that noise? It sounded like …” A few seconds is all it takes for the scene to sink in: the blood on the wall, the blood on the floor, on the strewn clothes and books and CDs. The gun in the boy’s hand, aimed at him.

The boy is outright shaking, arms trembling, muscles twitching uncontrollably. “Don’t come in—don’t come in.”

“Oh, Jesus … Jesus Christ … what did you do?” The father doesn’t seem to notice the gun. His gaze is fixated on Justin’s corpse, the violence of his death beginning to fade, the twitching diminishing. “What did you do?”

“Get out!”

The father’s eyes snap to to his son, look past the gun, stare into the wild, insensate face, nearly unrecognizable. “Kyle—”

The father twitches backward, stumbles, falls against the doorframe. Utter incomprehension as his legs give out, collapsing to the ground. Only a few seconds later the blood soaks through the shirt, warmth flooding down his chest, his stomach, his groin. The second gunshot is somehow louder than the first.

The father tries to breath, tries to feel the gaping wound, tries to speak. No sound comes out. The gun finally slips from Kyle’s grip, thuds softly to the floor.

A moment later, Kyle is prone beside both Justin and his father, just as dead to the world. The song continues in the background.

I’ll take that gun and find release / From you / And me

Screams echo later, as the mother discovers the bodies.

About the author

C.M. North is a trained musician, coffee addict and author of 22 Scars, a young adult novel about teenage depression and growing up with tragedy and trauma. He lives in northern New Jersey with his wife, son and cat Pia, who insists she take precedence over writing. view profile

Published on March 26, 2021

70000 words

Contains explicit content ⚠️

Genre: Contemporary Fiction