A darkly humorous story of friendship, men ageing disgracefully
and what it means to lose someone you love
Will – charismatic, funny, incendiary Will – has died. That means this year’s Boys Weekend with old school mates will be as much a wake as an annual excuse to cut loose and behave like they’re all eighteen again.
But he has left his longstanding friends a parting gift – one last Brainmelter, the infamous pub quiz he used to devise every year to break up the drinking during those annual trips.
When they finally pluck up the courage to play his video, Will’s questions turn out to be considerably more challenging than usual – tough enough to test their bonds to breaking point.
Meanwhile, outside forces further disrupt their world as the weekend descends into chaos.
Some secrets are carried to the grave. Others don’t make it that far.
One Last Question is a darkly humorous story of friendship, men ageing disgracefully and what it means to lose someone you love.
Mike Pattenden is a freelance journalist and commercial writer with newspapers and consumer magazines. He spent a decade as a music writer and is the author of 'Last Orders At the Liars' Bar: The Story Of The Beautiful South. He is married and lives in Hertfordshire with his wife and grown-up children.
The distress flare arrowed through the upstairs bedroom window with an almighty crash, showering sparks everywhere. In the tense silence that gripped the house it sounded like an HGV jacknifing through a greenhouse.
The projectile hit the back wall and dropped smouldering onto the floor, leaking red smoke and hissing furiously. Within seconds the carpet began to take. Jack raced upstairs and flung open the door. Not for the first time tonight he felt a wave of panic. The holiday let was moments away from going up in flames. He stood there dumbstruck, shock had him by the throat and was throttling any rational response out of him.
Offshore, Karen trod water vigorously as she attempted to support Matt and stop him from going under. Meanwhile, Thom was trying to locate them in the freezing seawater which sparkled like anthracite beneath the star shell. Back on the beach, Damon stood before the crashing surf with the flare gun dangling in one hand while his black mastiff barked into the void.
There had been a few messy moments on previous Boys’ Weekends. Five years ago they all went down with food poisoning, prompting synchronised all-night vomiting. Then there was the time a bath overflowed, leaked through a downstairs light fitting and fused the entire house. The owner could not be contacted, so they spent the rest of the weekend without power. But this was on a different scale. This was a meltdown of epic proportions.
It would have been tempting to blame Will. It was usually Will. Will’s dodgy molluscs were the source of the food poisoning and it was Will who left the taps running and passed out on his bed. But this time it seemed unreasonable to hold him to account, not least because Will was dead.
Will, who had never had a day off sick in his life and did triathlons. A man who had never smoked a single cigarette but somehow contrived to die at 52. His death had reduced the Boys from six to five. Now that figure looked like it might be cut to four, possibly even three.
Actually no. Will had to take some responsibility because things would likely never have unravelled as spectacularly had they not all had to suffer one final Brainmelter.