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  • Writer's pictureGabriella Marzola

The Big Brake

My short story, The Big Brake, just got accepted by Short Fiction Break literary magazine!

The contest theme was "A Fate Worse Than Death." What would you rather die than do?

Here's a short excerpt:

Cigarette butts and soggy candy wrappers floated down the gutter stream, and the smell of hot asphalt hung in the air. Rain in Los Angeles is like hosing lipstick off a pig. But Hannah Hill loved pigs.

She fell into her car seat while typing her parents’ address into Maps and started the engine. The route was solid red, with three accidents in the path—12 miles in 42 minutes.

Her heart raced as she replayed the audition in her head, still in shock. As soon as she spoke her final word, the director stood up and clapped. He kept repeating “Bravismia!” while shaking Hannah’s hand. At that moment, she felt like a door that had been locked her whole life had finally opened.

She had a missed call from her agent, so she spoke to the void, “Hey Siri, call Jay Barry.”

Jay Barry, talent agent extraordinaire, has a gift. He is a master convincer. He has lived in LA for fifteen years and has talked his way out of every single parking ticket. His jet-black hair was perfectly square, just like his jawline. He wore clear blue sunglasses that did not shield any sun. He never met a deal he didn’t win.

“Hannah, baby! How’s my big star?” She often cringed when he said this before, but now it felt right.

“I got the –“

“You’re breaking up, babe. Hello?”

Hannah repeated herself but received no response. She glanced down at her phone and reached to tap the screen to check the call.

Up ahead, a strong gust of wind crashed through the branches of a towering pine tree. The trunk cracked, and the tree fell across the road. Hannah looked up when she heard screeching brakes. She collided with the back of the car.

Everything went white.


Hannah blinked her eyes open, adjusting to the bright light. The only sound she heard was her heartbeat pounding against her eardrums. Cold air caressed her skin, tickling the hairs on her arms to stand straight up. Her eyes scanned her surroundings for familiarity. She was standing in a white room with two doors. A sign hung above the doors that read “FORTUNA.”

Read the full story here

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