Silver Bullets

Submitted into Contest #170 in response to: Start your story with the line “I’ve got a plan”. ... view prompt


Fiction Coming of Age Funny

This story contains themes or mentions of suicide or self harm.

“I've got a plan,” Thom said to no one in particular. Today was the day. Thom was going to solve all his problems. All he needed to do was sit down and really concentrate. It wouldn’t be like last time. Or the time before that.

First Thom would need paper. And a pen.


(1) Start talking to Courtney between periods at her locker. Never say anything about her eyebrows again.

Crap. Thom forgot to trim three fingernails on his right hand. What had distracted him so suddenly from trimming his nails? Oh, right. The list. The fingernails could wait.

(2) Say hello to EVERYONE.

(3) Sleep more.

Thom looked at his fingernails again. He glanced around his body but he couldn’t find the clippers. They weren’t under him either.

(4) Do your homework right when you get home from school.

(5) Do something about that old computer in your bedroom.

(6) Stop rehearsing your suicide and creating ironic funeral invitations to send to all the girls at school you stare at in class.

Maybe they were under the rug? Nope.


Thom reached into his pocket for his vape pen. It wasn’t there. What was there, however, was a pair of nail clippers.

(8) Take meds when you’re supposed to, in the correct amounts. Stop going out of your way to consume contraindicated prescriptions in high doses to “see what happens.”

(9) Get your calculator back.

Finish the list first. Then the fingernails.

(10) Say hello to strangers.

(11) Stop answering honestly when people ask how you’re doing.

(12) Don’t talk to Martha.

Thom hesitated before coming up with item 13. He couldn’t concentrate on the list anymore. There was a bag of egg rolls in the fridge from that one place. China Palace. Asia Wok. Oriental Hut. Golden Noodles. The Egg Roll Store. Something like that. They called out to him.

The bag contained a total of six egg rolls. Thom knew that if he ate more than four it would make him sick, but if he ate exactly four it would help him write the list. Two wasn't enough. Would three be enough? Half of six. Three was a good number, but Thom had to eat egg rolls in even numbers or it didn't work. Thom did not like the number six. Thom did not like that there were six egg rolls.

Someone had left the Toaster Strudels on the counter. Few things made Thom more anxious than Toaster Strudels.

Thom would trim his fingernails after he resolved the food thing.

It was Thursday morning, but Thom was sitting at home. He had managed to convince his parents that he had some terrible ailment. The trick, Thom thought to himself, was to be as vague as possible.

(1) Be nicer to yourself.

(2) Don’t procrastinate.

(3) Don’t give yourself a hard time when you procrastinate.

(4) Do projects the first day they’re assigned.

Thom had started a new list. He’d just do the list in installments. He really didn’t want the number 13 on his list. Thinking about it made him physically ill. He really ought to eat something.

(5) Stop going out of your way to offend people.

(6) Stop telling the counselor what you’re really thinking. Tell her you’re taking your meds as prescribed.

(7) Stop bothering Vivian. She already told you she doesn’t like you. “Not even as a friend.” You don’t go to the Baptist Bible study of a girl you have a huge crush on and then make zombie jokes the whole time while they’re trying to discuss THE PATH TO SALVATION while grossly misinterpreting passages in the Gospel of Luke.

Wait, Thom was supposed to be eating. He wasn’t sure if he wanted to heat the egg rolls up in the microwave or not. He always used the popcorn button. Two at a time. Two minutes. Well, when he cooked them. Obviously always if they were frozen. Sometimes if they were in the fridge. Did Thom ever heat them up from the fridge? He couldn’t remember.

Fingernails. Food. Stimulants? Maybe. A list of three. In addition to the list, Thom had three other tasks to accomplish. Should he make another list? Where’s that other notebook? The practical one. Not the creative one. Thom forgot which was which. He also wasn’t sure how to categorize the general list of all the problems to solve. Oh. He accidentally put it in his sketch notebook. That notebook was mostly full of triangles.

(8) Stop worrying so much about punctuation and formatting. It doesn’t matter. It’s for you. That’s the whole point. You’re not Anne Frank. How much editing work do you think went into her diary? Was her family on board with the whole thing? Or did they all die? There must have been a couple left.

OK. Absolutely have to trim the fingernails next, Thom thought. Before anything else. But where should he trim them?

(9) Say hi to people. Learn French words so that one girl will be impressed with you. Maybe she needs help with her homework.

(10) Clean out your locker. Throw away trash. Turn in homework. No food in locker.

(11) Get the lowest score ever on GOLF for the NES and post it on Twitch.

(12) Fix that one problem with the screen on the Switch. Watch that YouTube video again. Maybe buy tools. Home Depot?

List 2 complete! Thom decided he should trim his fingernails on the porch. But then he’d be outside. He could bring the egg rolls with him! But there was that other thing he needed to do. He couldn’t remember what the other thing was.


(1) Bring nail clippers and egg rolls to the porch.

(2) Bring the thing to wear on ears so you can’t hear anything. They’ve been doing construction near the house.


(1) Wear noise canceling things more. Don’t call them "noise-canceling headphones." They aren’t headphones. Does the AP Style Book put one or two “L”s in “canceling?”

(2) Don’t sabotage the school newspaper.

(3) Don’t sabotage things in general.

(4) Eat more fruits and vegetables.

Thom’s morning was starting to break down. He saw cake in the fridge. He had a headache. Thom decided he should play Minecraft to clear his mind. No more lists. No more lists. No more lists.

Thom grabbed a chunk of chocolate cake with his bare hand and ate it over the sink.

(5) Start brushing your teeth with your left hand.

(6) Shower at least once a week.

(7) Don’t talk during Sunday School.

(8) Turn in all that homework for English class you’ve been anxiously clutching on to for weeks. Is there more in the locker too? There’s definitely a lot in the backpack.

(9) Clean out backpack.

(10) Stop eating the Boy Scout popcorn in the closet.

(11) Learn to roller blade.

(12) Stop eating uncooked ramen.



(1) Read more.

Actually, if he just read more maybe that would solve all his problems. He could read books on how to solve his problems. He wouldn’t need lists. Yeah. Fuck lists.

(2) Play less Minecraft.

(3) Stop obsessing over whether you washed the left side of your body as long as the right side of your body.

(4) Start washing your own clothes. Do things more independently in general.

(5) Stop calling your father “Daddy.” You’re 15.

(6) Organize lists that make up plan for how to solve all problems. Review previous lists.

Thom didn’t feel like reading though, and he hadn’t consumed any stimulants today, so it wasn’t like he could have even if he wanted to. He was on the last chapter of The Wizard of Oz. He had been for about three months now. He had stopped at the end of the second-to-last chapter and decided not to go on. He couldn’t remember why.

He hadn’t read anything else. He couldn’t really remember a lot of the book anymore. The Tin Man decapitated a bunch of people. He remembered that part. And the Scarecrow was actually super smart. Without a brain. Thom recently learned that anencephaly is surprisingly common. Whatever “surprisingly common” means. He was full to the brim with fun facts.

(7) Change socks at least once a day.

(8) Trim fingernails weekly. Toenails too. Or at least once a month.

Thom didn’t like his feet.

It was 1 o’clock in the afternoon. How the fuck was it 1 o’clock in the afternoon?

Things weren’t going well. Thom decided he should take a nap. He could check that one off his list. “Sleep more.” All he had to do was lie there, though that was not generally one of Thom’s strong suits.

Thom took 100 milligrams of melatonin. He was curious what taking that much would do. Oh shit. Thom wasn’t supposed to be taking high doses of medications. Eh, it’s just a supplement.

Regardless, at least Thom had accomplished something that day. As he drifted off to Never Never Land, Thom thought that maybe it would be easier if he just tried to do one thing off the list each day.

Success! A streak of one day for accomplishing things. In his last conscious moments Thom decided he was proud of himself.

November 04, 2022 02:50

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