Antonio Garcia's Blog
November 5, 2019
As Adam walked through the ruble of the battlefield, his only wish was to find another survivor.
All around him were the bodies of his friends. Those he had fought alongside for years. They had all been survivors, but now, he was the last.
The tanks and artillery lay crumbled around the battlefield, and even when he looked across the plain to the enemy’s side, it looked like they were just as wiped out.
He didn’t know how both sides had fought until there were none left. All he could think of, is whoever had survived on the side of the enemy, had left once the battle was won.
He tripped over the body of his good friend, Charlie, and took a moment to kneel down and remember his late friend.
A bullet striking the ground near him brought him back to the reality that he was not alone, and the battle wasn’t truly over yet.
Keeping a low profile, he moved as quickly as he could towards the tree-line.
Another round hit a tree as he passed the edge of the woods.
He quickly found cover, positioned his rifle on a log, and used the scope to try to locate his adversary.
A brief flash from his enemy’s muzzle showed him where he was, but he flinched as a piece of bark exploded near him.
Adam knew he was too far to hit his target and he didn’t want to waste his ammunition, so he merely ducked behind the log.
At some point his opponent would have to close in, or Adam would have to find a way to close the distance for a clear shot, but now was not the time. He decided to wait until nightfall to move from his safe position.
No more shots came as he stayed safe behind the log.
He knew that either his opponent was taking this opportunity to close the distance, or at least move locations, but since Adam didn’t fire back, it was possible that his enemy was staying put until Adam moved from cover.
His shots were hitting close to the target, and it was only a matter of time before one of the bullets hit it’s mark.
Fortunately for Adam, the setting sun was to his advantage. His attacker would be blinded by the sun until it finally set, so Adam took this opportunity to move.
He continued to keep a low profile, and quickly moved from tree, to log, to tree, to ditch, and so on until he felt he had made good progress.
With each move from shelter to shelter, he knew he was getting much closer to his opponent.
Once the sun had disappeared, he stopped where he was to see if he could locate his attacker before he was discovered himself.
He watched for any movement, or muzzle flash to give away his enemy’s location, but there was none. He would have to just hope he was the first to spot the other.
With every crunch the sticks made as he stepped on them, he cursed.
He didn’t know how much sound would travel, but as he got closer to where the muzzle flash had originated, the more likely the sounds could be heard.
Then, off to his left he saw slight movement.
Not wanting to waste an opportunity, he quickly whipped his riffle in that direction and sighted in.
His target jumped just as he pulled the trigger, and he only shot the tree behind where he had been moving.
He let out a curse as he quickly took cover, correctly expecting a counter strike.
After the initial shot from his enemy missed, Adam rolled into a prone position and took aim once again, firing off two rounds.
The enemy soldier let out a grunt as one of the rounds hit him.
Not wanting to miss an opportunity to end the skirmish, Adam sprinted towards his prey.
Seeing his opponent aim his rifle at him with his good arm, Adam dove to one side just as the soldier pulled the trigger.
After the shot, Adam jumped over the log he was behind and closed in on his enemy.
With a clear shot, he pulled the trigger.
He was out of bullets.
Without any hesitation, the enemy soldier took quick aim and pulled the trigger.
Adam felt a sharp pain in his gut as the bullet tore through his skin.
His attacker slowly stood up and begin to limp towards him.
Adam could see that the enemy soldier had been hit in the leg. He could also see the smile that was growing on the soldier’s face as he moved in for the kill.
Because of his wound, Adam was not able to move quickly, so he could only sit there and wait for the soldier to pull the trigger.
“Any last words?” the enemy soldier asked, not really expecting an answer.
A spit at his feet was Adam’s only reply.
The clack of the rifle was the last sound Adam heard.
Adam took in a deep breath as if he had just broken through a surface of water and gasped.
He rolled onto his back and checked his gut, where the wound should have been, but found none.
The enemy soldier limped, unsure what to do now that he had disposed of the last enemy combatant.
‘I guess there’s nowhere left to go, except home,’ he thought as he began to limp in the direction he had come from.
He half dragged his rifle when off to his right he saw a speck of movement from across the field.
As quickly as he could, he took cover behind a destroyed transport vehicle and standing with his weight on one leg, used his scope to get a better look at the newest survivor across the way.
He couldn’t make out any details, only that the uniform was indeed a uniform of his enemy.
Not wanting a repeat of what had happened with the other soldier, he limped his way into the tree-line and slowly made his way to the other side of the battlefield.
He would move in close and kill his opponent, using the element of surprise.
Adam didn’t fully understand what had happened, but he wasn’t going to tempt fate. He picked up a couple of grenades, and plenty of rounds for a rifle he picked up.
He remembered where the enemy soldier was, so he started to walk back. He still wasn’t convinced that he hadn’t imagined the whole thing, but there was only one way to be sure.
Just as he entered the tree-line, he saw some movement deeper in, so he quickly took cover.
It didn’t seem he was discovered, so he stayed still behind some brush, until he could better see his adversary.
He didn’t have to wait long before he saw the limping silhouette of the enemy soldier.
Adam didn’t want to take the chance of his opponent taking cover, or returning fire, so he took out a grenade, and when the soldier was within range, he threw it with deadly precision.
The soldier never saw the grenade, he only heard the explosion and felt the percussion, before he shot up gasping for air.
He patted down his entire body as if he was on fire, feeling every part, not understanding why he was still in one piece.
Only a moment passed when he looked off into the distance, inside the woods, and saw the smoke and dust of an explosion.
He was laying back where he had woken up the first time, but now, his injury was missing, and he was completely whole.
He jumped up, and scanned the area, expecting an immediate attack, but none came.
Determined to get revenge, he picked up another weapon, a couple of grenades, and headed to where the explosion had just occurred.
He had somehow survived and he wasn’t going to waste the chance he’d been given.
Adam smiled as the smoke and dust cleared. He was finally rid of his killer. The battle was finally over and he was the victor.
He let out a shout of victory, but as he brought his head back down, he saw another enemy soldier running towards him.
They ran toward each other, simultaneously aiming their weapons at each other.
Both hesitating, they stared at each other in disbelief.
“What the hell?” the enemy soldier asked.
“What the hell is going on?” Adam asked.
Neither of them had an answer for the other.
“I shot you,” the enemy soldier stated. “I watched you die.”
“And I just blew you up with a grenade,” Adam pointed out.
They were both ready to shoot the other but stood unsure.
“We’re close to where I killed you the first time,” the soldier continued. “I say we see if your body is still there.”
They both lowered their weapons, and Adam nodded in agreement.
Cautiously, they both made their way to where Adam had been killed, but there was no body there.
“What the hell is going on?” The soldier asked, raising his weapon at Adam. “Did you crawl away and re-arm?”
Adam brought his own weapon up and trained it at his opponent.
“I snapped awake where I had awoken the first time,” Adam explained.
“Same when the grenade went off,” the enemy soldier agreed. “I woke up where I started too.”
Though they both kept their weapons trained on the other, they were both deep in thought, trying to figure out what was happening.
Then Adam said, “It doesn’t matter.”
Seeing Adam’s brows furrow, realizing what he was about to do, the enemy soldier did the same.
Both rifles went off almost simultaneously.
They both inhaled deeply, finding themselves back where they had started.
It no longer mattered to either of them why this was happening, only that they were the last man standing.
Over and over they killed each other, picked up what weapons were lying around, and hunted each other again and again.
Finally, after they had killed each other more times than they could count, they ran out of ammunition.
Not to be deterred, they instead, picked up knives and bayonets, continuing to hunt each other.
Eventually, they got tired of the hunt, and just began running across the battlefield, stepping over and on their once friends, as they fought over and over, taking turns killing each other.
After what felt like an eternity, they found themselves back in the middle of the battlefield, ready to kill each other once again, when they looked at each other, completely exhausted.
The exhaustion they felt wasn’t physical, but spiritual. They both felt weary of the constant fighting with no end in sight.
Though there was nothing wrong with their bodies, they both limped, as if beaten and bruised.
Once they were within reach of each other, the both stopped and only stared.
Adam was the first to just collapse into a crossed leg seated position.
Seeing that Adam wasn’t a threat, the enemy soldier sat down too.
Tired of looking at his opponent all the time, Adam began looking around at the carnage that still surrounded them.
He saw a pair of bodies that looked like they had been in the process of killing each other when an explosion went off, finishing them both off.
Both bodies were heavily blackened and looked the same as all the other bodies that surrounded them.
Adam couldn’t help staring at one of them, something looked familiar about it, though he couldn’t quite place it.
The enemy soldier followed Adam’s gaze to see what he was staring at.
His guard when up as Adam stood and slowly make his way to the body he had been focusing on.
Curious himself now, the soldier stood up and joined Adam by the bodies.
They both stared quizzically at the dead soldiers.
The soldier watched as Adam knelt down and pulled out a piece of paper that was sticking out of the dead body’s pocket.
Adam’s eyes widened when he opened the paper to read what was written on it.
“What is it?” the enemy soldier asked.
Adam handed the paper to him.
It looked like a love letter.
As he looked up confused, Adam pulled out an identical piece of paper from his own pocket. The same pocket as it was in the dead body’s and handed to him.
The soldier held the two pieces of paper side by side confused.
They looked identical.
He looked back at Adam still confused.
Terror filled Adam’s eyes as he slowly rolled the dead body over onto its back.
The soldier jumped back as he saw that the dead soldier on the ground was his enemy.
Adam fell back, his eyes looking into his own dead eyes before him.
Not fully understanding what was going on, but needing to be sure, he moved over to the second dead body and rolled it over.
The soldier let out a yelp as he stood there, looking down at his own dead body.
“I don’t understand,” the soldier said.
Adam looked at him, “Neither do I, but I think these bodies are the real us. I think we’re dead, and we’re in some sort of purgatory.”
They both looked around the battlefield, seeing all their dead friends covering the ground and realized for the first time that there was nothing outside the battleground, but blackness.
They weren’t sure how they had missed it before, but as they stood there looking around, they realized that there was no escape. They were bound together in death, forever forced to kill each other over and over again, or find a way to make peace.
Adam made eye contact with the enemy soldier and said, “I’m Adam.”
The soldier, for the first time not seeing an enemy, but a comrade, replied, “I’m Gastoff.”
Published on November 05, 2019 14:34
September 2, 2019
The sudden shaking of the house woke Scott up.
Still groggy, he looked around the room with blurry eyes, when another violent shake instantly cleared his mind.
He got out of bed only to be knocked back when the house shook again.
He recovered and ran to the window to see what could be causing the earthquake like shakes.
In the sky were a dozen ships off in the distance. He could see bolts of lights coming from them, followed by explosions from the ground.
A few seconds would pass, and Scott’s house would shake from the percussion.
Scott was a former Marine, so after the initial shock of seeing what was happening, he jumped into action.
His mind raced. His first thoughts were of his ex-wife and kids.
He pulled out his cell phone and called his ex.
“April!” he shouted into the phone, so he could be heard through the noise at both ends.
“Scott! Is that you?” she shouted back through the phone.
“Yes! Where are you?” he asked.
“Home!” she replied. “We’re all home!”
“Get in the basement and wait for me!” He yelled. “I’m on my way!”
“Scott! Scott! What is happening?” she asked, full of terror.
“We’re under attack! Just grab some supplies and get to the basement! I’ll be there soon!” he answered, and then hung up the phone.
He knew he had to hurry. He knew this was only the initial barrage. Next, would come the ground troops.
He ran to his room, grabbed his military backpack and gun out of the safe.
He took out his gun and jammed a clip into it. He then threw all the ammunition he had into his backpack, and then ran to the kitchen.
His pack was already heavy, so he grabbed half a dozen bottles of water, and a few food packs he saved for a rainy day.
The door slammed behind him as he ran to his car.
Dust filled the air as he sped off down the dirt driveway.
He knew it usually only took twenty minutes to get to April’s house with little or no traffic, so he hoped he would luck out and not have too many obstacles on the way there.
Unfortunately for him, that wasn’t the case. As soon as he got close to town, he could see that the roads were a mess. Cars looked like they had been thrown around. Some were in piles while others were flipped on their sides and on fire.
Scott weaved through the mess the best he could, only scrapping his car a few times.
An explosion went off to his left and he watched as a car on fire flew in the air over his car.
Then came the screams. He could see people running around like chickens with their heads cut off. They were almost all in shock and didn’t pay him any attention as he drove by.
The next thing he knew, he was flying through the air as the ground beside him exploded. He clutched the steering wheel and waited for the inevitable crash onto the ground.
The world turned grey and blurry as his head was banged around in all directions.
The sounds of screaming and explosions were the first sounds to return. Slowly the blackness turned grey, and then blurry. He kept himself still until everything came back into focus.
His whole body ached, and he groaned as he tried to reach his seatbelt release.
He was hanging upside down, so when he released the grip of the seatbelt, he fell hard to the roof.
His body came to an awkward rest, and he slowly crawled out of the vehicle.
Blood streamed down from above his eye as he low crawled out of the car.
He laid there, catching his breath.
People were running in all directions and there were new explosions erupting every minute and seemed to be picking up pace.
He squatted and grabbed his backpack out of his wrecked car.
Without a minute to lose, he started limping away.
Fortunately, it wasn’t long until he was able to get out the kinks from the crash, and he began to jog lightly.
As he jogged, he was relieved that the ships weren’t leaving their positions over the city in the distance and heading toward him.
He was jogging parallel the city, so he hoped they would stay long enough for him to get to his family.
When he reached an entrance to a neighborhood, he detoured in. He knew there was no way he was going to be able to jog all the way to their house, so he needed to find another car.
A few houses in, he saw a dead body of a man lying next to an open door of his car.
When he saw a blast mark on the dead man’s chest, he immediately squatted.
‘This is from no explosion,’ he thought. ‘This is from a ground weapon.’
He quickly scanned the area, looking for the source of the weapon, and then he heard a scream from up the street.
The keys to the car were lying next to the body, so he picked them up, but before he got in the car, he ran to the side of the neighboring house to see if he could see where the scream came from.
From the angle he was hiding, he was able to see the body of a dead woman with smoke coming out of her chest, but he didn’t see her attacker.
All of a sudden, a huge creature in armor stepped over her body into the open. It must have been ten feet tall. It stood on three legs and had insect-like arms.
The weapon he was holding looked like a miniature cannon.
Seeing that its prey was dead, it began to scan the area for another target.
‘There’s no way I’ll make it to the car while that thing is standing there,’ Scott thought, but he knew he couldn’t pass up this opportunity to drive away in that car.
He decided to give it few minutes for that thing to walk off looking for another target. He was about to give up, when up the street and from around the corner, a group of people ran into view, seemingly escaping a different attacker.
The creature turned and began running towards them.
It ran fast too. Scott guessed it to be running at around forty miles per hour.
He knew that was his chance.
He ran to the car, turned it on, and as quickly and quietly as he could, he backed up into the street.
Not wanting to draw attention to himself, he didn’t’ even start to close the door until he was moving forward and up the street.
Throwing caution to the wind when he looked into the rear-view mirror to see that the creature had noticed him, he slammed the door and the gas pedal at the same time.
It took all his concentration to maneuver around all the debris around him.
Once he was on the main road, he took a moment to look into the rear-view mirror to see that the creature had gained on him considerably and was getting close enough to draw its weapon and open fire.
Finally making it to a clearing after all the wreckage, Scott pushed the gas pedal to the floor, launching the car forward.
He took another moment to see where the creature was.
Realizing that it wouldn’t be able to keep up, it drew its weapon and began firing at the car.
Each time Scott saw a flash of light, he instinctively swerved. It worked. Each shot fired from the creature missed him and it wasn’t long until he was out of range.
Scott could only take a brief break before he once again was dodging explosions. This time from a shuttle size ship pursuing him.
He groaned as he was barely able to dodge the first two shots.
He frantically looked around, looking for a place where he could escape this rapidly approaching ship.
The only option he had, he took.
The car screeched as he turned into a grocery store parking lot and without hesitation, slammed through the front entrance, careening through rows of selves until the car came to a crashing halt.
He knew it wouldn’t be long until the ship caught up, and a few of those creatures jumped out to finish him off.
Limping, but still able to move quickly, he grabbed his backpack, and ran to the back-warehouse area.
Instead of running out the back door only to have them start chasing him again, he found a large container behind some shelves that he could fit into.
A large explosion came from the front of the building, as if it was hit by a wrecking ball, and more crashes as the creatures tore through the doors to the warehouse area.
Scott held his breath as he heard them slowly moving around, probably searching the space for him.
He slipped out his pistol, ready to put up a fight when they found him, when a loud siren sounding noise erupted.
The creatures turned toward the sound and began running toward it. Back toward the ship.
Scott stayed in the container, gripping his pistol until he was sure they were gone.
As quietly as he could, he climbed out of the container and looked around, half expecting a creature to be waiting for him.
‘I guess I wasn’t worth their time,’ he thought relieved.
He cracked the back door open to peek outside. Not seeing any immediate threats, he stepped out.
Explosions could still be heard in the distance as he jogged across the street and took cover between two other buildings.
Recognizing where he was, he knew he wasn’t that far off now. Easily a ten-minute jog.
A screeching sound erupted over his head as he saw two fighter jets swoop by, one of them launching a missile into the distance.
The smoke streak of the rocket was followed by a huge explosion. Whatever it hit, erupted into a pillar of smoke that Scott could see over the roof of the grocery store.
Not wanting to waste any more time, he returned to the task at hand.
He jogged at a brisk pace, staying behind cover and crouching as much as he could. He was happy that he hadn’t encountered any more creatures along the way.
While he spent most of the time just trying to stay alive, there was a small part of his mind that wanted to just lay down and die, afraid that he still wouldn’t make it in time.
Relief filled him when he saw that his old home still stood erect and there didn’t seem to be any creatures hunting in the area.
He crouched by the back door, giving his surroundings one more glance before opening it as quietly as he could.
He kept his pistol raised as he cleared each room he entered, until he reached the basement door.
Tears began to slip out as he saw that the front part of the house had been decimated by an explosion, including the basement door.
It took all that was in him to go down and search for the bodies of his ex-wife and kids.
He took in a deep breath and began stepping down the stairs.
An explosion of drywall from the wall beside him threw him to the ground.
When he looked up at the hole, he almost laughed when he saw that it was too small to be from one of those alien weapons.
“April?” Scott called out.
“Scott?” she replied, timidly. “Is that really you?”
“Yes,” he answered, almost laughing hysterically.
April and the kids ran up the stairs as he ran down, meeting in the middle, where they all but tackled him.
He took a moment to hug them both, and then led them back down the stairs.
“I saw some jets fighting back,” he started. “I think we’ll stay here the night. Since the house upstairs is destroyed, we should hopefully be left alone by those creatures. Tomorrow, we’ll set see if it’s safe to look for more people that survived.”
They all collapsed exhausted in the corner of the basement. No matter what the next day would bring, at least for now, they were together.
Published on September 02, 2019 09:03
August 19, 2019
This was Jason’s moment. This is the moment he had been training for since he was in elementary school, and he was ready.
As soon as the Quarterback said, “Hike!”, he took off.
If he made this catch, his scholarship was all but assured.
The scout had been watching him and taking notes throughout the game, and though Jason had made some great catches, this touchdown would lead to the team’s victory, and help him stand out from the rest of his competitors.
Off to his left he saw the boy that was covering him close in.
The air was knocked out of him as the other kid hit him hard and he fell to the ground.
The couch jogged up to him to make sure he was okay.
“You alright, Jason?” he asked.
Jason could only nod, as a tear ran down his cheek. He didn’t want to let the coach, or his fellow teammates see him cry over something so small, like getting tackled.
It was his first year playing and he was only in sixth grade. His dad wanted him to get into a sport to stay active, since Jason was becoming more of a couch potato every day.
He had never played any sport, and wasn’t sure he’d like football, but a lot of his friends were playing, and he liked playing with them.
Once he was able to catch his breath, he rolled onto his side and picked himself back up.
One of the assistant coaches pulled him over to the side.
“When you’re running, Jason,” he started. “You need to make sure you’re watching who’s coming after you. Most players only watch the ball, and not the other players, but it if you want to be better, you need to watch everyone. Once you know how their coming after you, you can figure out what you need to do to give yourself the advantage.
“It could be changing the direction you run. It could mean changing your speed, or it could mean you may not be able to get open to catch the ball at all.
“Do you understand?”
Seeing the boy chasing him, Jason changed his angle to open the gap between them. He was now ready to catch the ball when it came.
The Quarterback threw the ball in a perfect spiral towards him, and now that he had opened the gap, he was able to easily catch it.
He should have seen it coming and been ready. As soon as he caught the ball, the other kid sacked him hard, causing him to drop the football. Another kid from the other team picked up the fumble and began to run with it.
Laying on his back, all Jason could do was watch as the other kid avoided his other teammates and ran the ball in for a touchdown.
That was the end of that game. Jason felt the blame was entirely on him as to why they lost that night.
After the game, the coach began chewing out the team as they began to take off their gear.
“All of you that plan on playing next year in high school better up your game!” the coach yelled. “You all need to make sure you’re paying attention to all the players around you!
“Jason, you should have seen that kid heading towards you as you made the catch!”
“Yes, coach,” Jason replied, feeling defeated. He knew he wasn’t the only reason they had lost the game, but he knew his mistake was a big one.
“And when you grab that ball, you need to pull it in close and hold on to it as if your life depends on it!” The coach continued. “That goes for all of you! You’re all going to get tackled, it’s inevitable, but you have to make sure that ball goes down with you!”
This time, Jason saw the other kid coming. He grabbed the ball and pulled it in close. As the other kid went to tackle, Jason did a spin, causing the kid to fly right by him.
Seeing his path open, Jason took off towards the end-zone.
The snap in his leg was the most painful thing he had ever felt. The kid clipped him, successfully tackling him, but breaking Jason’s leg in the process.
The pain was sharp, and Jason was in shock as the coach, medic, and players surrounded him.
He couldn’t believe he was injured during his first game of high school. He had come so far, and now it looked out he was going to be out the rest of the season.
Tears streamed down his cheeks as he stared out the hospital window from his bed. They said it was a clean break, and he would still be able to play football in the future, but not by this season’s end.
Jason’s dad entered the hospital room.
“Son,” he started. “How are you feeling?”
His dad wished Jason’s mom was still alive. She would have been so much better than him at this.
Jason didn’t respond. He only kept staring out the window, feeling depressed.
“The doctor said with some healing and physical therapy, you’ll still be able to play again next year,” his dad said, trying his best to console him.
“Maybe, but I’ll never be as good as before the break,” Jason said.
“Well, let’s get you healed first and then we’ll see what the next step is,” his dad encouraged.
Jason could only nod. His dad always seemed to know the answers and was usually right. Jason trusted him, but couldn’t help but doubt what he was saying a little.
It took months to heal, and more months to get his strength back through physical therapy.
When he felt strong enough, Jason went to the athletic director to see what his options were. He wanted to be back on the team, but he knew there were a lot of good players already on the team.
“You have potential, Jason,” the director began. “I’d like to see you back on the field, but it’s been my experience that when someone sustains an injury like yours, they never truly recover.”
The director saw the determination in Jason’s eyes.
“I’ll tell you what,” he started. Get in to track. Specifically, the hurdles.”
Jason looked at him confused.
“You need to get your leg strength up,” the director explained. “You need to not only be as good as you were, but better. You need to get that confidence back, so when someone comes at you again, instead of worrying about getting injured again, you’ll be ready to react. Trust me, you’ll gain a new-found confidence if you do this.”
Jason had his doubts but was determined to play again.
He got into track, and though his first few weeks were spent getting up from falling repeatedly, he got better and better with each fall.
By the end of track season, he was one of the top hurdlers on the team.
The kid charged at him, about to take him down by the legs, but instead of letting the kid tackle him and possibly injure him again, Jason hurdled over him.
The kid slid under him confused, and as soon as Jason’s foot touched the ground, he took off into a full sprint.
Since there was no one within distance, he took a moment to glance over at the scout, who seemed to be watching in awe and rapidly writing down notes.
Jason turned his attention ahead. He had a second wave of defenders standing between him and the end-zone.
His lungs were burning, but there was no way he was going to slow down, much less stop.
The defenders formed a wall between him and the end-zone and he knew there was only one way through.
He would have to jump over them and hope he landed on the other side.
This was it. This was his moment. All his hard work had come to this. He thought back to the first time he had been knocked down in sixth grade. He thought back to when he had fumbled the ball and cost the team the final game of eighth grade. He remembered when he broke his leg, having to drop out the rest of the season.
He remembered each incident and what he had endured to be where he was.
And then fear entered when he saw a defender charging from the side. He was going to be tackled before he could make the leap. He was going to be injured again, and never play football again. He was going to get the ball knocked out of his hands and lose the game.
He hesitated for just a moment, but it was long enough. He slowed his speed enough that removed the option to jump successfully and allowed the charging defender to reach him before he even reached the wall.
The charging kid slammed into him, knocking him to the ground and taking away any chance of him winning the game for his team.
Laying on the ground, he didn’t want to ever get up.
He wanted nothing more than to stay there and break into tears, but he couldn’t break down with everyone watching.
As he rolled onto his back, all he could do was stare at the stars in the sky. They now looked at him mockingly. Each star represented a dream he had, and like his dreams, they were unreachable.
Jason remembered how depressed he was that summer. He didn’t want to go to school his senior year. He didn’t want to play football anymore. He just wanted to give up and move on with life.
He remembered when his dad came into his room, finding him once again staring out the window at nothing.
“Hey, my boy,” his dad said, stepping into the room. “I know you think your dream is over, but it’s not.”
Jason felt his dad sit on the bed beside him.
“You have worked so hard and suffered to get to where you are. You have fought every step of the way, and it shows. You are one of he best players in the state. I know that. I also know that if you don’t give into despair, you can reach any goal you set. Everyone on the team believes in you.”
“How can they believe in me when I keep letting them down?” Jason asked.
“While everyone likes to win, failure is a far better teacher,” his dad explained. “Each time you have been knocked down, you’ve learned from it. You’ve gotten better.
“Now, I’m going to be honest with you, my son. You have to stop focusing on the mistakes you’ve made and start focusing on what you learned from them. You need to get up, take every lesson you’ve learned and apply it to every game coming up. This is your last year and you can either chose to give up, or push through like you’ve always done, and show them what you’re really made of.”
Jason rolled over and saw the tears in his dad’s eyes. He could tell they weren’t tears of sadness, but tears of how proud he was of his son.
Jason made up his mind in that moment that he was going to take his dad’s advice. He decided he was going to throw everything he had at this last year, win or lose.
Now, as he ran towards the wall of defenders standing between him and the endzone, he thought back to the first time he had been knocked down in sixth grade, and how he had gotten back up. He thought back to when he had fumbled the ball and cost the team the final game of eighth grade, and he pulled the ball in tight, determined not to let it slip out again. He remembered when he broke his leg, having to drop out the rest of the season, and all the pain he had endured to get back into shape, becoming even stronger than he was before the injury.
He remembered each incident and what he had endured to be where he was. He remembered each incident and how he had overcome each one to become a better player.
Failure had taught him well, and as he saw another defender charging to tackle him, Jason took a deep breathe, picked up speed, and launched himself as high as he could over the wall of defenders.
Time seemed to stand still as he closed his eyes and held the ball tight.
He felt himself begin to spin as he was hit from all sides. He had no sense of direction. He didn’t know if he was flying into the end-zone, or back into the field.
The whole world came crashing back as he hit the ground hard, knocking the air out of him, but he held onto the ball as if his life depended on it.
As he caught his breath, he began to hear the sound of yelling, and for a moment his stomach dropped as the fear of failing crept in once more.
Then clarity set in, and he realized it wasn’t yelling he was hearing, it was cheering.
He opened his eyes, stared up at the stars that no longer looked menacing, and knew that he had done it. He was on the right side of the wall.
August 9, 2019
As I lay here bleeding to death, feeling my life slip away, I look around confused, wondering where I am and how I got here.
Through blurry eyes, I look at the cops, still aiming their guns at me. I look at the crowd of people gathering just outside the perimeter of the row of squad cars.
I moan as I try to recall what had happened. How did I go from a night out with my friends, to laying here on the asphalt bleeding to death?
I try to remember what had led me here, but all I can remember was having a good time. I try to replay the nights events in my head.
“Get up, lazy!” my friend Sean shouts as he jumps on me.
I can’t help but laugh and push him off.
I look over at our girlfriends getting ready and smile.
I jump up, and quickly get dressed.
It was the weekend and we were ready to paint the town red. We were heading to a new silent disco club to try it out.
We’d heard of them before, but have never been to one.
Silent disco clubs were like normal dance clubs except, instead of the DJ playing music out loud, everyone wears headsets and listens to the music through them.
To a passerby, the dance floor would be full of idiots dancing to nothing.
Needless to say, we were excited.
We pounded our glasses of Tequila on the counter and took the shots. We all made our individual grimaces and let out a whoop.
We jumped in Sean’s car and headed out to the new club, the radio blasting.
“Anybody know what to expect?” Emily, Sean’s girlfriend, asked.
“I’ve only heard of them, so not really,” my girlfriend, Sara, answered.
The excitement was overwhelming, and we bounced around the car getting ourselves ready for another amazing night out together.
Once at the club, we stood there, mouths agape, staring at the crowd of people in the warehouse dancing around in silence. It was one thing to see it on YouTube, or hear about it, but it was another to be standing there for the first time seeing it in person.
Some people just swayed, others bounced around like apes.
All of a sudden, we broke out laughing. We couldn’t help ourselves. It was such a funny sight to see.
After a few minutes of taking it all in, we followed the signs to where they handed out the headsets. We paid our cover, and each grabbed a pair.
We walked to the edge of the dance floor, stopped and looked at each other, and then put our headsets on.
In that moment, we seemed to be transported to another dimension. One second, we were watching people dance to nothing, the next, the music filled our ears and now we seemed like the odd ones out.
Almost immediately, we began bouncing up and down to the music, and jumped onto the dance floor.
The music was completely immersive, and it felt like any other club, but with only music and with no sound of people talking or shouting that usually accompanies the music in a regular club.
As Sara grinded on me, I took a moment to look around and see if anybody wasn’t dancing. I saw people walking to the bar, and a few off in the corner talking.
It looked like whenever they went to get a drink, or talk, they merely took their headsets off and talked normally.
Curious, I wanted to try that too. I grabbed Sara’s hand and led her off the dance floor.
Once we were off, I took off my headset, and seeing me, Sara did the same.
Immediately the music was gone, and the warehouse was silent again, except for the few people talking. I couldn’t get over how weird it all seemed. The music and talking segregated was awesome, but also unnatural.
“Would you like a drink?” I asked Sara.
“Sure,” she replied.
We went to the bar and ordered our drinks.
As we drank, I looked around the warehouse to get a better look. I saw the DJ on some elevated scaffolding, wearing his own pair of headphones.
We stayed at the bar but saw that there were a few tables scattered around for people to sit, drink, and talk.
I saw a man, who looked like the manager, make his way to the DJ booth and handed what looked like a USB to the DJ. The DJ smiled as he took it and nodded.
I don’t know why, but the DJ’s smile seemed menacing and sent chills up my spine.
“I want to go back on the dance floor,” Sara pleaded.
I quickly finished my drink, put my headset back on, and let her lead me back.
It didn’t take long before I had forgotten about the DJ and got back to dancing like an idiot.
As I danced, I thought I could hear a high-pitched sound in the background, but it was subtle, and I couldn’t be sure I was hearing it at all.
I felt someone nudge me from behind, and when I turned around, I saw the manager dude handing out shots.
Everyone was doing the shots he had handed out and putting the empty shot glasses back on the tray he was carrying, so I did the same.
After the shot, I could the feel the familiar buzz kick in.
I looked around and saw everyone having a good time.
Suddenly, across the dance floor, I saw a man head butt his girlfriend, bloodying her nose.
As she started to fall to the ground, I blinked, but when I reopened my eyes, they were dancing like normal.
I thought it was strange, but for some reason, I still felt relaxed and euphoric.
I continued to dance, getting back into the groove.
I casually glanced back and saw the same man that had headbutted is girlfriend, now on top of her, punching her like he was in a rage.
I tried to focus my eyes to make sure I was seeing what I thought I was seeing, when all of a sudden, they were both back up and dancing like normal.
That high pitch sound in the background of the music was barely audible, but constant.
I looked around, but it didn’t look like anyone else could hear it. Since it was my first time ever doing anything like this, I just assumed it was normal, so I went back to dancing.
I tried to shake it off and just enjoy dancing with Sara.
I closed my eyes and let the music fill me. I wasn’t going to let my buzz wear off by overthinking.
A few minutes later, I opened my eyes to look at Sara and almost went into shock from what I saw. As I looked around the room, I saw everybody fighting. It didn’t look like anyone in particular was the instigator. It looked like everyone just decided to start punching each other.
I turned to make sure Sara, Sean, and Emily were okay, when I not only saw Emily kicking Sean, who was laying in the fetal position on the ground, but when I looked at Sara, my hands were around her neck.
Seeing the fear in her eyes, I immediately let go.
When I released my grip, everyone was back to dancing like normal. Everyone was dancing and having a good time.
Sara was looking at me quizzically. I saw her lips moving but couldn’t tell what she was saying.
I reached up to take my headsets off, but when I put my hands up there, I realized I wasn’t wearing them.
‘How can I still hear the music?’ I asked myself. ‘Why can’t I hear what Sara is saying?’
I started to panic.
All I wanted to do was run. I squeezed my eyes shut, trying to wrap my mind around what was happening.
When I opened my eyes, I found myself straddled over Sara with my hands wrapped around her neck once again.
This time her lifeless eyes stared back at me.
Around me the entire warehouse was in chaos. Everyone was back to fighting each other, except now there were lifeless bodies scattered around.
I looked over to see Emily stomping on Sean’s head.
I took one more look at Sara, and then ran towards Emily, tackling her hard to the floor.
“Are you alright?” I could see Sara mouthing as we danced.
Everyone was back to dancing to the music.
I put my hands to my head and felt the headset again, but when I tried to take them off, they wouldn’t budge. It was like they were glued to my head.
As Sara reached her hands out to me, she vanished and I was over her, bashing her head into the concrete floor.
That high pitched sound became louder.
I stood up and began to run away from the chaos, when I bumped into a guy dancing with his girl.
He looked at me with mild concern, but seeing that I didn’t really pose a threat, went back to dancing with her.
I looked back in time to see Sara getting Sean and Emily’s attention. She was pointing at me and seemed deeply concerned.
They took off their headsets and walked towards me.
Half of me wanted to run towards them, and half of me wanted to run away from this place.
For some reason, I looked at the DJ. He was still on scaffolding bouncing to the music, but now he was doing it with an evil smile, and he was looking right at me.
I turned back to look at my approaching friends, but instead saw the warehouse full of dead bodies lying on the ground.
Horrified, I turned and ran out of the warehouse, still wearing the headset.
I tugged at them as I ran down the street.
When I reached a corner, I saw a group of people on the other side.
They were dancing in place but weren’t wearing any headsets.
I ran towards them for help.
As I approached, they stopped dancing and looked at me, terrified, before going back to dancing.
The music was so loud, and that high-pitched sound in the background never stopped.
My head felt like it was about to explode. I closed my eyes in pain.
When I opened them again, I was straddling one of the people. Somehow a rock had appeared in my hand and I was bashing a man’s head in with it.
Two men were trying to pull me off while a couple of women were off to the side, looking like they were screaming, though I still couldn’t hear anything but the music.
I closed my eyes and pushed off with my legs.
I felt myself back into the wall behind me.
When I opened my eyes, the same group was back to where they were originally, and back to dancing with each other.
I couldn’t figure out how they could hear the music without the same headsets I was wearing.
I had to get away, though I didn’t know where to go, so I just started running.
As I ran, I felt this sharp pain in my gut, like someone had stabbed me.
When I looked down, I saw blood seeping through my shirt.
I immediately stopped running and looked behind me to see what had happened.
Not far behind me were three squad cars with police officers dancing just outside of them.
They looked happy, and I knew they would help me, so I started running towards them.
I was almost to them when, instead of dancing, they were facing me with their sidearms trained on me.
Suddenly, I felt an explosion of pain from different parts of my body. I felt pain in my legs, arms, and torso.
I was surrounded by a rainbow of colors. I could feel myself falling, but it felt like a bad trip.
Laying on the ground, I stared at the cops, moving closer to me, cautiously.
With my last bit of energy, I reached up to take off my headphones, but felt nothing.
As the world turned dark, the music never stopped.
Published on August 09, 2019 11:32
July 22, 2019
As Stephon walked down the cobblestone street of the small town where he lived, he couldn’t help but marvel at the simplistic beauty of it all.
“Hi, Stephon!” a little girl shouted as she ran by to go play with some friends.
“Hi, Isabella!” Stephon replied, continuing his walk to the store.
He smiled as he walked, being greeted by everyone as he passed.
Stephon had retired to this small, secluded town years before and quickly fell in love with the surrounding landscape of hills, trees, and a long river that went across the entire landscape. It was all very picturesque.
“Hello, Stephon!” Sam, the merchant greeted him as he walked into the store.
“Hello, Sam,” he responded. “How are you today?”
“Ahh, blessed as always,” Sam replied. “Did you see Isabella out there. That girl is so full of energy. She wears us out.”
They both laughed.
Sam was an interesting character. Immigrated from Iceland and made his home here in the states as a merchantman in a small store.
Stephon loved everyone in the town. He knew them better than he had known anyone else in his life. He had known a lot about his other friends throughout his life, but there were always parts of their lives that was hidden.
That wasn’t the case in this town. Stephon knew every aspect of their lives, which made them even more endearing to him. He felt a sense of protection over them, like a parent over their children.
Isabella was by far his favorite. She was so full of life, energy, and beauty. She had become a true representation of how people should be.
Stephon talked to Sam as Sam collected the items that Stephon requested. Sam talked about his wife, Rebecca, and how happy they were with their lives there.
He collected his things, said his goodbyes, and left the store.
The sun was shining just as bright as it did every day. He couldn’t have picked a better place to retire.
Back at his house, he put down his supplies and then almost immediately collapsed.
Darkness overcame him, and when he opened his eyes, he saw that it was now night time.
He stood up and felt a tightness in his chest. He knew he was getting closer to death, but he hadn’t realized how close he truly was.
He struggled to get to his study, and when he made it, he sat at his desk, staring at his ongoing writing project. He wanted to finish it before he died.
After staring at his last novel for a bit, he stood up and carefully made his way to his bedroom. He needed to rest some more.
A knock at the door woke him.
He grudgingly got up and walked to the front door.
A smile instantly appeared when he opened it to find Isabella standing there, in her adorable summer dress.
“Isabella, don’t you look beautiful today,” he stated.
She curtsied and said, “Thank you.”
They both smiled and Stephon instantly felt better.
“What can I do for you?” he asked.
“Papa wanted me to come get you,” she replied. “There’s a strange man at the store.”
Stephon was surprised. No stranger had ever wandered into the town. This place was completely isolated from the rest of the world and not on any maps. That’s why he had chosen it.
“A stranger?” Stephon asked perplexed. “Where did he come from?”
“I don’t know,” she answered honestly. “Papa just asked me to come get you.”
“Okay, okay,” he answered unsure. “Run along and tell your papa that I will be down shortly.”
Isabella curtsied again and then ran off.
Stephon went to his study.
Sitting at his desk, he began shuffling through the pages towards the end. Not finding what he was looking for, he composed himself and headed towards the store.
As he walked down the street, nothing seemed out of the ordinary.
He tried to understand how a stranger could have found this town without knowing where it was located.
Sam and the stranger both turned to look at Stephon when he walked into the store.
“Can I help you?” Stephon asked, politely and curiously.
“I hope so,” the stranger replied. “I seemed to have gotten lost and I can’t seem to find my way back.”
As Stephon approached, the man reached out his hand and introduced himself.
“Hi, I’m Nick,” the man said.
“Stephon,” he replied taking the man’s hand.
Nick showed Stephon the map, hoping he would be able to show him where he was.
Stephon only glanced at the map and then back at the man.
“How did you arrive?” Stephon asked.
The man put the map to the side and said, “I was out hiking here.”
He showed Stephon on the map.
“I was following the path, when something caught my eye, so stepped off the path to see what it was.”
“And what was it?” Stephon asked.
“It turned out to be that little girl, Isabella,” Nick explained. “I called out to her, but she must not have heard me. I followed her to see where she came from. I thought she might be lost. There isn’t any homes or businesses out here, so I was wondering how she had gotten so far out here. I didn’t hear or see any parents with her.
“I tried to keep up with her, but she was too fast. I was carrying all my camping equipment.
“Finally, I found myself in that open field over there,” he pointed in the direction he had come from. “I saw her just as she entered the town, so I headed in to check the place out. I’m a writer, so I’m a curious person by nature.
“After I walked around a little bit, I tried to leave. I just wanted to get back to the trail so I could mark it for later, but when I entered the tree line, I couldn’t find the path. I started to panic, so I was glad when I found this place again. And here we are.”
Nick looked at Stephon, who seemed to be deep in thought.
“You’re a writer?” Stephon asked, surprising Nick.
Nick had expected a different response.
“Can you help me get back?” Nick finally asked.
Stephon returned back to the conversation and said, “I’ll be happy to help. It’ll be dark soon. How about you stay the night and tomorrow we’ll get you back.”
Nick was obviously confused. It was a bright sunny day outside, but when Nick turned to confirm that, he could now see it was dusk.
He looked at his watch, and it confirmed that it was indeed early evening, though he couldn’t think how he hadn’t noticed the time slip away.
“I’d be happy to host a fellow writer at my home,” Stephon said.
“You write too?” Nick asked.
“I do,” Stephon answered. “I wrote a half dozen novels before I retired.”
“What’s your pen name,” Nick asked.
“My pen name is my real name. Stephon Alexander,” Stephon stated.
“What?” Nick asked, excited. “I’ve read all your work. I knew you retired, but you also fell off the face of the earth. Everyone was saying you had died, though your publisher would never confirm it.”
Stephon smiled. “Not dead, at least not yet.”
They both chuckled.
“Just retired to this special little town,” he explained. “Come up to the house, and I’ll tell you what I’ve been working on and all about how special this town really is.”
“Uh, yeah. Of course,” Nick said. He was in total awe of one of the greatest writers of his generation.
They didn’t say much on the way to the house. Stephon just let Nick enjoy the beautiful scenery.
While Nick marveled at what he saw, Stephon studied him.
Once they arrived, Stephon gave Nick the grand tour of his house.
Nick’s favorite room was the study. In it was three walls of bookshelves filled to the brim with books. It was a writer’s heaven.
Adjacent to the window was a desk. A writer’s desk. A roll top desk with an old typewriter in the center. On either side of the typewriter was two stacks of paper. The right side was blank paper, and the left, the pages he had typed.
Stephon stood by the door while he let Nick wonder around the room, periodically taking a book off the shelf to study it.
After Nick had admired everything along the walls, it was time to ask the big question and Stephon was prepared.
“So, what is the big project you are working on?” Nick asked.
Stephon decided to answer the question with one of his own.
“What is it that a writer does?” Stephon asked.
Perplexed, Nick answered, “Tell stories.”
Stephon nodded and added, “And how do we do that?”
This question gave Nick a little more pause.
Unsure of the right answer, Nick shrugged.
“I don’t blame you,” Stephon said. “That’s a hard question, but I will tell you the answer.”
Nick listened intently.
“We create,” Stephon stated flatly.
Seeing the confusion on Nick’s face, he elaborated.
“In order to tell stories, we create worlds, people, challenges. We create heroes and villains. When we create people, we give them a history, personality, passions, and everything in between. Through our story, the readers cheer with every victory, and mourn every loss.
“When you get to the very core of what a writer is, he is a creator. The very God of the men and women in his stories.”
Nick could only stare in wonderment.
And then Stephon took on a more solemn look.
“Which brings me to this place,” he said.
Nick only stared, unsure what he meant.
“The reason you can’t find your way out of this place, is because it doesn’t really exist,” he said.
He gave Nick a moment to absorb what he had just said.
“Here, take a look,” Stephon said, leading Nick to his desk. “Read this.”
He pulled out the chair for Nick and pointed to the pages he had written on the left side of the typewriter.
“I’ll be in the living room when you’re ready,” he said and walked out of the room.
Nick was dumbfounded when he emerged into the living room a few hours later.
“How about I show you around the town,” Stephon said.
“But it’s nigh…” Nick started, but when he looked out the window it was midday again.
Wearing a warm smile, Stephon simply said, “Come on.”
He led Nick outside, holding his arm so he wouldn’t trip while he looked at his surroundings with new eyes.
Every person they passed in town, Nick felt like he knew everything about them. People said hi to him, and he mostly could only wave back.
“Hi Nick!” Isabella said as she ran up to greet them.
“Hi Isabella,” Nick replied, seeing her in a different light. “How are you doing today?”
After reading Stephon’s story, he now knew that Isabella was created in memory of Stephon’s granddaughter, who had died at birth. He had created her here and she had grown up into this adorable little girl who stood before them.
“I’m wonderful,” she said. “I’m glad you’re finally here.”
“Finally, here?” Nick asked, confused.
Even Stephon seemed confused.
“I guided you here,” she said flatly.
Nick was thoroughly confused.
“I left the pamphlet in your kitchen, I put the sign up at the entrance of the trail, and I made you followed me here once you had arrived,” she explained.
Nick knew what she was talking about.
When he was looking for trips to take to stoke his creativeness to write, he had a pile of brochures and maps, but he remembers one stood out from the rest. It was on top of the pile and was almost word for word of what he was looking for in a destination.
When he had parked the car and was trying to decide what trail to take, it looked like the original sign had been damaged, and a temporary one shoved in the ground. It was called Emily Trail, which filled him with a sense of wonder. The map didn’t show that trail name.
“Emily was your daughter,” Isabella stated. “You lost her in that car accident with your ex-wife.”
Nick stared at her, confused but not afraid.
“You’ve never bee the same, and you’ve spent all your time trying to find something that would ease the pain. A new story, a new place to live, even death.
“But you don’t have to be alone anymore. Here, you can create Emily from your memory, and she can grow up here, like me.”
Realization dawned on Stephon. He turned to look at Nick.
“I’m dying,” he said plainly.
Nick turned to look at him.
“I’ve been afraid to die, because I was afraid of what would happen to this wonderful place I created. What would happen to Isabella.
“You must carry on. You must ensure the story never ends here.”
Nick was trying to take it all in. He wanted to tell them they were crazy. He wanted to run. He wanted to….stay.
Tears filled his eyes as he broke down.
The funeral for Stephon was beautiful. Everyone that existed in that town had shown up to say their farewells and give him a proper burial under a grand oak tree.
Before he died, Stephon got to meet Emily, who was the same age as Isabella and her new best friend.
On his tombstone was engraved, “Stephon Alexander. The Creator”.
Nick typed the last sentence with tears in his eyes.
Satisfied with the ending, he stood up, took a moment to watch Emily and Isabella playing outside the window, and walked out of the study to enjoy every minute of the rest of his life with them.
Published on July 22, 2019 12:56
June 13, 2019
I always knew my house was different from all the others.
Whereas most houses creaked, mine moaned. Now, I don’t mean moaned, as in had its own settling sounds, but actual moans, as if it was always depressed.
At least, that was how it was when my parents and I first moved in.
While the realtor was showing us the house, it seemed like a normal, everyday house, but maybe that’s why they only show houses during the day, because it’s not until night that the special houses, like this one, come alive.
The first night we stayed in the new house, it moaned. My dad only told me that it was normal and was normal for houses to make strange sounds.
After a few nights of the normal, moaning, house sounds, I saw my dad at breakfast, and he looked like he hadn’t been sleeping well.
Once we had settled in, it was time for everyone to go back to their normal routine.
Since I was off school for the summer, my parents, who both worked, found a baby sitter to watch me. Of course, she mostly watched TV.
One day when I was outside playing, I saw another little boy digging in the ground by one of the old trees.
I looked around to see where he might have come from. I should point out the house we bought was an old farmhouse, and though I could see our neighbors, they weren’t that close.
“Hello?” I timidly said as I approached the boy. “My name is Carl, what’s yours?”
The boy turned to look at me and I could see how pale he was.
He gave me a glance, and then went back to digging.
“What are you doing?” I asked, curious.
He turned slightly to show me a shoe box. He opened it to reveal a dead cat inside.
I wasn’t so much surprised that he was burying a cat, but that he was trying to bury it at our house.
I was about to press the issue, when the babysitter called out for me to come in for lunch.
As soon as I was done with lunch, I ran back outside to see if the boy was still there.
Not seeing him, I went to the tree where he was burying the box and looked for the grave site.
I must have walked around the tree a dozen times, but I was never able to find the hole he had dug, even when I was sure I was at the right spot where he was digging.
That night the house groaned as usual, so I wrapped my pillow around my head to block out the sound.
My parents were already gone when I woke up the next morning and the babysitter was sitting out in the living room watching TV again.
I said ‘Hi’ to her and quickly walked out the door.
My heart skipped a beat when I saw the same boy from the day before doing the same thing he was doing the day before.
He ignored me as he dug his grave for the cat.
“Hello?” I asked again, feeling a sense of déjà vu.
He turned and looked at me.
To this day, I’m not sure why I asked, but I do remember feeling compelled to.
“Are you a ghost?” I asked.
The boy nodded.
We stared at each other, and then he put the box down and stood up.
“Do you want to play?” the boy asked, to my amazement.
Dumbfounded, I could only nod.
Only the first day was weird. By the second day, playing with my new ghost friend seemed normal.
He told me his name was Walter and he had died in the year 1837. That was how he worded it, so I just went with it.
After the first day we played, when I went to bed, I couldn’t believe it, but the house wasn’t moaning.
I woke up the next morning early enough to see my parents before they left, and they looked as if they had finally gotten a good night sleep.
That summer we played together every day and it wasn’t until I had to go back to school, that Walter’s mood seemed to change.
I assured him that I would play with him when I got back, and this seemed to cheer him up a bit.
Walter quickly became my best friend, and whenever I wasn’t at school, or doing homework, I was playing with him.
I never told my parents about Walter. He said they wouldn’t understand and would only be concerned with my mental health.
When I reached High School, my relationship with Walter began to wane. One, he was still a little boy, though he was as mature and smart as any of my other friends. Two, he was limited to the property and I wanted to get out and do things.
I did my best to explain it to him and somehow, we were able to make our friendship work throughout high school.
It was hard to say goodbye to him when I left for collage, but I made sure to hang out with him whenever I was home.
After collage, I got a job on the other side of the country, and while out there I met the woman I married and had children with.
At first, I would visit with my family as much as I could and sneak off to see Walter.
I thought of introducing my kids to him when they were old enough, but after just a few short years, my wife was growing tired of traveling across the country to see my family, so we lessened our visits to just once a year on Christmas.
It was around that time that my dad started to complain about the moaning having returned and how he was having trouble getting to sleep.
The last conversation I had with him, he told me he was going to put the house up for sale. He couldn’t take the noises at night anymore.
I told him I completely understood and would be happy to help them move when they were ready.
It wasn’t even a week later when I received a call from the local police of where my parents lived, informing me that they had been in a car crash and didn’t survive.
My heart was broken, and a part of me felt it was the house’s, and by association, Walter’s fault that they had died.
When it came time for the funeral, I couldn’t bring myself to take the wife and kids to the house. I was afraid that Walter would do something to them as well.
We arrived the day before the funeral, and while the family rested from the traveling, I went to see the police to see what the cause of death had been. I know they were in a car accident, but I wanted to see if alcohol were a factor, or what else could have been.
The police were very accommodating. They told me it looked like my father had fallen asleep at the wheel. No drugs were found in their system, and there were no signs of foul play.
‘Fell asleep at the wheel,’ I thought. ‘Probably because they couldn’t sleep with the house moaning every night.’
I thanked the officer and went back to my family.
After the funeral, I got the family settled back into the hotel, and went to the house to confront Walter.
As I drove up, I saw him by the tree, burying the cat like he was the first day I had seen him.
“Hi, Walter,” I said as I approached him.
I didn’t think there was any reason to beat around the bush, so I asked him if he had anything to do with my parents’ death.
Without hesitation, Walter explained that when he saw that my parents were going to sell the house, he had to do something.
He knew that if my parents sold the house, I wouldn’t be going to see him anymore.
Apparently, I was the only friend he had made since he died.
Angry that he all but murdered my parents, I told him I was going to sell the house and there was nothing he could do about it.
As I began to drive off, I saw Walter standing there, his hands balled up into fist.
That didn’t concern me. What concerned me was the front door of the house and all the windows began to open and shut, as if a strong wind was moving them.
Determined, I gave him one more angry look and drove away.
Up until that day, I had no idea that Walter was able to move things. That was the first time I had ever seen anything in the house, or on the property, move because of him.
I tossed and turned all night, trying to think what to do.
The next day, we flew back, and I put it out of my mind until all the necessary paperwork was completed to put the house in my name.
I immediately called a realtor and had the house put back on the market.
‘Let some other family deal with Walter,’ I thought selflessly.
It wasn’t long before the realtor called stating that she couldn’t be my realtor any more. When I asked why, she told me that strange things were happening in the house when she showed it, and nobody was going to buy it.
Infuriated, I jumped on the next flight out.
I put the ‘For Sale’ sign out front, only to find it torn to pieces the next day. I finally was able to get some people to come look at the house, but Walter was really not having it.
When I opened the bathroom door to show one couple, they screamed when they saw the entire bathroom was covered in blood.
Another couple ran out as they swatted at the swarm of locust that had enveloped them, and another family didn’t even get out of their car when they saw a dead body hanging from a noose in the front tree.
I was in shock. In all of my years spent with Walter, he never showed any ability other than making the house moan at night.
A part of me knew he was in pain, but all I had to do was remember my parents, and the anger grew once again.
Finally, I decided more drastic steps needed to be taken.
I paced back and forth in my hotel room, going over again and again what needed to be done.
When I woke up the next morning, I drove to the house to have one final confrontation with Walter. He was waiting for me at the tree when I arrived.
I walked up to him and said that enough was enough. I told him that if he promised to leave my family alone, I would not sell the house and even stay there from time to time.
His anger was slow to dissolve, but it did. He nodded and told me he promised.
He could tell I was still angry, but as long as he got his way, he didn’t mind.
I walked to the car to grab my luggage. I told him I would stay a couple of days and then fly home, but that I would return again.
He cautiously watched me as I carried my things inside.
It took all my strength to act normal for the rest of the day, but I did my best.
Finally, when it was time for bed, I said goodnight and went to my room.
I don’t think ghost sleep, but they don’t seem to be able to be at all places, at all times.
Not turning on any lights, I slipped out of the bed, opened both of the suitcases, and grabbed one of the gasoline cans.
I knew once I started, Walter would try to stop me, so the first can I poured throughout the room. I continued draining it just outside the door.
Walter didn’t appear.
I grabbed the second can and began pouring it where the first can finished off. This time I threw caution to the wind and began pouring it throughout the entire first floor.
Just before I finished pouring out the second can, Walter appeared, instantly enraged, and all the doors and windows started slamming open and shut.
I tried to walk out of the front door, but it slammed closed.
“You killed my parents, you little shit!” I yelled at him. I struck the lighter and then threw it to the ground.
The entire first floor became engulfed in flames.
Walter Screamed in agony.
Fire surrounded me as I crashed through the front window. I kept rolling until I was sure I was far enough away from the house.
I smacked a small flame that was on my arm and stood up.
I got in my car and watched the house crash in on itself.
Inside, I could still see Walter standing there screaming in anger.
I turned the car around and drove off, my middle finger waving in the air.
Published on June 13, 2019 12:20
June 11, 2019
Charles couldn’t wait to get home after a rough day at work.
As the rain fell hard, his wipers struggled to clear the window and the radio just seemed to drone on.
He and his wife, Rebecca, had been trying to have a child. Once they had made the decision to have children, Charles started to put in extra hours at work, hoping for a promotion that had just opened up, that he was the main consideration for.
‘The work will be well worth it,’ he thought, counting down the minutes until he got home.
He heard a loud crash as a semi-truck t-boned his car and then there was silence.
His head throbbed as he slowly opened his eyes.
Confusion set in as he realized he was parked in his driveway but couldn’t remember how he had gotten there.
Remembering the crashing sound, he jumped fully awake, looked around to see what damage his car had sustained, and seeing none, carefully got out of his car.
He walked around his car to assess the damage. He was relieved and concerned at the same time, when he saw there was none.
“You okay, Charles?” his wife asked standing just inside the front door of their home.
Snapping back to reality, Charles turned to her, still wearing a confused look on his face.
“Yes,” he answered. “I’m fine.”
He grabbed his briefcase from the backseat and walked into the house.
Rebecca was waiting for him at the dining room table. She watched as he took off his coat, and hung it by the front door.
When he walked into the dining room, she said, “You may want to take a seat.”
Initially, he became nervous, but when he saw her warm smile, he relaxed.
Once he was seated, she reached out and took his hand in hers.
“What is it, dear?” he asked. “Is everything okay?”
Her smile grew.
“Everything is great,” she started and in her other hand slid an object across the table toward him. “We’re pregnant!”
As Rebecca shook with excitement, Charles stared at the pregnancy test with wonder and then started shaking with excitement too.
The thought of having a child was exciting enough, and he thought he would be prepared when it became a reality, but now that she had said the words, he was filled with more emotion than he had expected.
‘This time next year, we’re going to have a little boy or girl,’ he thought, no longer able to control himself.
He jumped out of his seat and enveloped Rebecca, and they both laughed and cried together.
Over the next nine months, they worked to get everything ready for the baby.
Charles had earned that promotion at work, and the extra money he began making went into buying everything from diapers, to furniture for the baby’s room.
They had found out they were having a little girl, so they painted the room pink and bought everything to match.
When the time came, Charles nervously drove her to the hospital.
“Breathe, Rebecca, breathe,” he repeated over and over to her on the way to the hospital.
Twelve hours later, their daughter was born. They named her Amy, after Rebecca’s late grandmother.
The first few months were crazy for them. Charles was putting in extra hours to keep up on the cost of raising their first child, and Rebecca went from having a career of her own, to being a house wife, in what seemed like a blink of an eye.
But as time went by, they got the hang of things and were able to enjoy each moment of Amy’s first year.
“Come on, Amy,” Charles said, encouraging her to take her first step.
She stood staring at him on wobbly legs, holding onto the coffee table. He could see the determination in her eyes to take the plunge, and with the encouragement from him she stuck her leg out, let go of the coffee table, and then took another step towards where he squatted waiting for her. She made it almost five steps before she lost balance an fell forward.
Charles swooped her up and said, “Great job, Amy! I knew you could do it.”
She giggled at the praise.
“Did you really like it?” Amy asked, after she pinned her drawing on the board for the whole class to see.
“Of course, I did,” Charles replied.
One of the benefits of being a Director of his department was that he could slip out whenever his daughter had big class project where the parents were invited.
He couldn’t believe she was already in second grade. It felt like she had taken her first step right into school.
She jumped in his arms and squeezed him tightly.
He took a picture of her painting and texted it to Rebecca, who was stuck at work. Once Amy was going to school, she was able to go back to work part time, and then full time.
They had both decided that one child was enough for them.
At dinner, they both sat on either side of Amy as she drew more pictures of anything and everything.
“What’s this picture?” Rebecca asked.
“That’s me, that’s daddy, and that’s you,” Amy explained, pointing at each stick figure in the drawing.
She finished the drawing with a rainbow over all three of them.
Satisfied with her work, she gave it to her mom and said, “Here you go.”
Nothing melted Rebeca’s heart like getting little gifts that Amy made.
Charles took a moment to watch Rebecca read a bedtime story to Amy, and then went to the kitchen to pour a couple of glasses of wine.
He set the glasses down on each of the bed stands in their bedroom, and then returned to Amy’s room to tuck her in.
Once Amy was asleep, they retired to their room, where they sipped on their wine, watched a little TV, and when they were done, they climbed under the covers and made love.
“Dad!” Amy yelled, crashing through his bedroom door. “I can’t find my keys and I’m going to be late!”
Charles woke up with a start and tried to remember where he was.
Hearing her call out to him a second time, he jumped out of bed, threw on his robe, and walked downstairs to help her find them.
“Retrace your steps,” he suggested. “Where was the last place you remember having them?”
“I don’t know,” she snapped back, frustrated. “If I could remember that, I’d already know where my keys were at!”
“Okay, okay,” he responded, trying to calm her down. “You go look in your room and I’ll search the living room.”
She huffed but went upstairs to look anyway.
“Found them!” He called out after just a few minutes.
“Where did you find them?” she asked.
“Between the couch cushion,” he replied.
She took the keys, gave him a quick hug, and said, “Thanks, dad. I love you!”
Then she was gone.
He took in a deep breath and smiled.
He couldn’t believe how fast she was growing up. She was sixteen, working at her first job, and seemed to be thriving at life. What parent could ask for more?
“What?” Rebecca asked him.
He turned to face her.
“I said I can’t believe she’s already graduating from college,” he replied. “Where does the time go?”
She smiled at him and asked, “Do you see her yet?”
They both were watching as the graduating class marched into the auditorium and took their seats.
“There she is!” Rebecca yelled, frantically waving at Amy, hoping she would see her.
Amy saw her mom and dad waving at her and gave them an embarrassed wave back.
Neither of them minded how stuffy the auditorium was, they just patiently waited for their daughter’s name to be called.
When it was, they both clapped vigorously, annoyed that the rest of the families didn’t join in.
Their claps merged with the next family who took over when their child’s name was called.
After the ceremony, they took turns taking pictures with her, until she finally called it quits.
Charles and Rebecca hoped that Amy would leave with them to continue celebrating over dinner, but Amy told them that her and her boyfriend, Heath, had plans already with some of their friends.
Disappointed, Charles and Rebecca watched as their only girl took off with her friends, not even giving them a glance as they left.
“Well, I guess we’re just going to be seeing her at the holidays, until the wedding, I guess,” Rebecca said, tears forming in her eyes.
“I know, but we both knew this day would come,” Charles replied, trying to comfort her.
Tears of pride streamed down, as Rebecca watched Amy and Heath exchange wedding vows.
Though Charles felt it too, he didn’t fully embrace all the different emotions he was feeling until they began the Father-Daughter dance.
He pulled her close, remembering when he would carry her around the house, as if her feet were too fragile to touch the ground, and feeling the difference now that she was all grown up.
“You know, I used to carry your mom around just like this when she was little,” Charles explained to his grandson, Colton.
Colton smiled back at his grandpa as he was carried to his bedroom to be tucked in. He loved the way his grandpa tucked him in. He always told the stories better than his mom.
“What would you like to hear tonight?” Charles asked him.
“Harry Potter! Harry Potter!” Colton replied.
Charles laughed as he walked to the bookshelf and grabbed the book they were on.
He sat down and began reading from where they had left off the last time. Colton squealed and situated himself under the covers.
It wasn’t long before the soothing sound of Charles’ voice caused Colton to drift to sleep.
‘Good thing, too,’ Charles thought. They had reached the part where one of their favorite characters died.
Watching his grandson fall asleep and remembering the emotional impact of the character dying the first time he had read the book, a tear escaped and ran down his cheek.
He wiped the tear off his cheek as Amy put her arm around his neck, and her head on his shoulder.
“I love you daddy,” Amy consoled.
That was the straw that broke the camel’s back, and he began to let the tears fall freely.
He had married his soulmate 50 years ago and now he sat there in the first row of chairs, watching her being lowered into the ground.
Everyone was solemn as they gave him their condolences one by one at the wake. He watched as groups broke off to reminisce about the times they had with her.
Even though he had more good memories than he could count, he felt heartbroken that there would be no new ones formed with her from now on.
Seeing her dad alone, Amy walked over to him.
“Hey, daddy,” she started. “Is there anything I can do for you?”
He took her hand in his.
“No, sweetheart, thank you,” he replied.
She stayed by his side the rest of the evening, making sure he took a few bites of food and wasn’t overwhelmed with sympathy from their friends.
After everyone had left, she sent him to bed and went into the kitchen to clean up the best she could.
When she was finished, she went up to his room to check on him, and found him peacefully asleep.
She imagined he watched her sleep the same way she was watching him now and began to mourn the day when he would leave this world too.
She sat on the side of the bed and softly caressed his head, running his hair through her fingers.
He slowly opened his.
“I’m sorry, daddy,” she whispered. “I didn’t mean to wake you.”
His eyes still blurry, he squinted to look around the hospital room.
“It’s okay, sweetheart,” he replied. “I’m glad you’re here. “Where is Heath and Colton.”
With a smile, she said, “They’re downstairs getting some coffee. They’ll be up soon. How are you feeling?”
“Tired,” he answered with a warm smile.
“I know, daddy,” she said, her eyes filled with love and sadness.
Amy, Colton, and Heath all stood around the bed as he slowly drifted off to sleep, never to awake again.
The ambulance arrived at the site of the car crash, but it was too late.
They checked Charles for a pulse as he laid slumped behind the wheel of his mangled car. Feeling no pulse, they confirmed him deceased and began the process of removing his body.
Published on June 11, 2019 06:44 • Tags: short-story
April 23, 2019
“I know since my husband died, I’ve had a hard time keeping up with friends, but I started doing what you advised me to do,” Betty said. “I started making dolls that I can work on talking with. I even went one step further and made them life size.”
Betty was very proud of her accomplishments and hoped Dr. Abbott would be also.
Betty had always been a prominent member of town, but when her husband died, something changed in her mind, and she found it difficult to talk to people she had known her whole life, or make new friends, which had always been easy for her.
She waited patiently for her psychiatrist to voice her approval, but they were interrupted by a knock at the door.
“I’m sorry, Doctor,” Betty said standing, and went to see who was at the door.
When she opened it, she impatiently asked, “What, Billy?”
Billy, her son, nervously replied with, “There are policemen at the door, and they want to talk to you.”
Annoyed, Betty turned back to her shrink and said, “I’m sorry, I’ll see what they need, and I’ll be right back.”
She quickly stepped into the hallway and closed the door behind her.
“What did I tell you about disturbing me when I’m with friends?” Betty asked.
“I know,” Billy stuttered. “I told them you were busy, but they said it was important.”
Even though Billy was twenty-six and over six feet tall, he rubbed his hands together nervously, as if he was still a child being admonished by a teacher.
Betty pushed him aside and walked to the front door to see what they wanted.
“Good afternoon, Mrs. Betty,” one of the officers said.
It was a small town and most have known Betty their entire lives. She was a strict religious person in the church, and was usually placed in charge of disciplining the children during services. As the kids grew up, they never stopped treating her like their disciplinarian.
“Good afternoon, Timothy,” Betty replied, always playing the part. “What can I do for you?”
“Sorry to bother you, Miss Betty,” the second officer started. “But we’re looking for a missing couple that seemed to pass through town. We were wondering if you could check to see if they stayed here over the last couple of days.”
“Of course, Johnny,” she replied with a softer smile.
Both the officers visibly relaxed.
At the front counter, Betty turned the sign-in book around to look over the guest names.
“Now, what were their names?” she asked.
“Winston and Samantha Jenkins,” Timothy answered.
Betty looked through the names and said, “Here they are. They stayed one night and checked out yesterday morning.”
“Did they happen to say where they might be going, or give any indication that something was wrong?” Officer Timothy asked while Officer Johnny wrote down the details.
“I think they mentioned they were going to see a sister out west or something, but that’s about it. They seemed pleasant and nothing stood out as unusual about their behavior,” she replied.
Both officers nodded their understanding.
“I’m sorry I can’t be more help,” she continued. “But that’s all the interaction I had with them.”
“You didn’t see them at check-out?” Officer Johnny asked.
“No. They were gone before I got up, and they left their keys in their room,” she said.
“Anything off about their room when you cleaned it?” Officer Timothy asked.
Shaking her head, she answered, “No. Nothing out of the usual.”
Satisfied, Officer Timothy said, “Well, we appreciate your time, Miss Betty.”
“I hope you find them safe and sound, boys,” she said, watching them walk out the front door.
As she walked away, she muttered, “Dammit!”
“I’m sorry, momma,” Billy began to plead. “I tried to tell them that you were busy, but they said it was important.”
“It doesn’t matter,” she said, sternly. “Just go check on the rooms and make sure they are completely clean.”
Happy to be dismissed, he vigorously shook his head and walked away.
Feeling overwhelmed by Timothy and Johnny’s presence, she went into the basement, where her doll friends sat quietly.
She fell into her loveseat and began to vent. One by one she could hear the dolls reassure her in her head. Though they weren’t real, the more Betty talked with them, the better she felt.
Dr. Abbott had once told Betty that when she did eventually go out to reunite with her friends, she should pretend that she was talking to her dolls.
“I agree, Sam, that is a good point,” Betty spoke out loud.
“I know they were just doing their job, but I feel like they were mocking me. Mocking the woman who doesn’t go out in public anymore.”
She shook her head in understanding as if someone were explaining something to her.
“We’ll,” she replied to the small group of dolls placed on the couches. “I see your point. You know, I feel like you all are helping me so much in overcoming my fears. I wish everyone in town was as easy to talk to as you all are.”
She smiled, as in her mind, all the dolls spoke their appreciation.
Betty stayed down in the basement with her dolls for a few more hours, when she heard the bell at the front desk ring.
“Well,” she said. “If you excuse me, it looks like we have some more guest.”
She took a moment to smile at her doll friends, and then quickly walked upstairs to see who was there.
“Hello,” she pleasantly said to the young lady waiting for her at the front counter. “Can I help you?”
The lady smiled back and said, “Yes, I’d like a room for the night, please.”
“Of course,” Betty said. “Just for the one night?”
“Yes,” the lady replied.
Betty spun the book around and said, “Just fill out this part and we’ll get you all settled in.”
As the young lady filled in her information, Betty asked, “So, what brings you through such a small town?”
Not looking up, the lady replied, “Oh, just passing through. I’ve got a job interview in Boston, and I decided to drive, instead of fly. Take the scenic route.”
Betty smiled warmly.
Once the lady was done, Betty turned the book back around and said, “Elizabeth. Oh, what a beautiful name.”
“Thank you,” the lady replied with a smile of her own. “Is there a good place to eat around here?”
“Oh, honey,” Betty started. “It’s getting late. My son is about to run some errands. Why don’t you take a quick look at this menu, and we’ll order and pick it up for you. We’ll just add it to your room charge in the morning.”
“Awe, thank you, but I don’t want to put you out,” the lady replied.
“Nonsense,” Betty said. “We do this all the time. You go settle in and we’ll send it up when he returns.”
“Oh my gosh, you are so great,” the lady replied. “I am tired.”
She looked at the menu and told Betty what she wanted. Betty made her notes and sent the lady off to her room.
“Daniel!” Betty called out.
Daniel came shuffling into the room and said, “Yes, mama?”
“I’m putting in an order for the young lady that just checked in. I’ll call it in while you go pick it up.”
“Yes, mama,” he replied, and quickly left.
In less than a half an hour, Daniel arrived back with the food and put it on the front counter, where Betty was patiently waiting for him.
“Here mama.” Daniel stood there looking at her, as if waiting for her to tell him to take it up to the lady.
Reading his mind, she said, “I’ll take it to her. You go ahead and finish up your chores before bed.”
Reluctantly, he nodded and shuffled away.
Elizabeth had just gotten out of the shower when she heard the knock at the door.
“Just a minute!” she called out, quickly dressing herself in her pajamas.
She peeked out the peephole, and seeing it was Betty, opened the door.
“Here, you go sweetheart,” Betty said, handing her the food.
“Thank you,” Elizabeth said. “I’m starving. Thank you again so much for this. Being on the road so long today, the thought of getting back in my car to eat was daunting.”
“It was completely my pleasure,” Betty said. “How far have you driven today?”
“I drove all the way from Ohio, if you can believe it,” she replied.
“My goodness,” Betty said. “That is a long drive. Well, enjoy your dinner and get some rest. When you wake up, we’ll be happy to go get some breakfast for you.”
Thoroughly pleased, Elizabeth said, “Thank you again so much. I do appreciate it.”
“Think nothing of it,” Betty replied. “We’ll see you in morning.”
They both gave each other one more smile, and Elizabeth closed the door while Betty walked down the hall.
Elizabeth quickly made her way to the bed, turned on the television, and tore into her food. She was completely serious about how hungry she was.
When she finished eating, she put the empty bag into the trash.
As she watched tv, her eyes began to get heavier and heavier. She knew she was tired, but she felt unable to stop herself from closing her eyes and eventually falling asleep.
Everything was blurry and dark. Elizabeth tried to remember if she had gotten up to turn off the light.
She felt like she was waking up from a very deep sleep. It took her a moment to realize that she couldn’t move. As her senses came back, she could feel that she was no longer wearing her regular clothes, but something itchy, like a potato sack.
When she tried to speak, she realized that she was gagged, and her heart began to race.
A bright lamp instantly turned on and she instinctively closed her eyes. After it felt like her eyes had adjusted, she slowly opened them.
“Oh good, you’re awake,” she could hear Betty say. “I wanted to welcome you to your new life.”
Elizabeth began to struggle against her restraints.
“Now, now,” Betty said, pinning her down even more.
“I’m almost done dressing you, and then I’ll let you up,” Betty assured her.
Feeling a tinge of hope, Elizabeth stopped struggling.
“Good,” Betty replied.
After a short time, Betty said, “All done here. Now let’s introduce you to the group.”
Betty unbuckled Elizabeth’s restraints, but before she could escape, Daniel grabbed her arms from behind, and with super human strength, held her in place.
“Now follow me,” Betty said, walking out the door.
Daniel drug Elizabeth into the hallway, and easily kept pace with Betty.
Betty led them into a room down the hall, and confusion set in as Elizabeth saw a couple of couches with life size doll things sitting in them like a normal person would.
Daniel led her to an empty part of a couch and forced her to sit.
“Now let’s introduce you to the rest of the group,” Betty said. “Here we have Winston and Samantha Jenkins.”
She continued to say the names of the others sitting on the couch.
When she finished, she looked at Elizabeth and said, “Why don’t you introduce yourself to the group, dearie.”
Confused, but unsure of what to do, she played along and introduced herself as if she was in a room with people.
“Very good,” Betty said when Elizabeth was done. “Let’s begin.”
She nodded to Daniel, who immediately put a plastic bag over Elizabeth’s head, taking away her ability to breathe.
She struggled as much she could, until her strength faded, and then her life.
Once Betty was sure Elizabeth was dead, she walked over, replaced the plastic bag with a cloth mask, and began to sew it shut.
“You can leave, Daniel,” Betty instructed when she was done sewing. “Go make sure her room is clean of any evidence that she was here. I’m going to take a few minutes and get to know my new friend.”
With his head held low, Daniel slowly shuffled away, not wanting to disappoint his mother.
A few hours later, Betty took a seat across from Dr. Abbott and told her how happy she was to have made a new friend.
The life size doll of her psychiatrist merely sat there, staring with empty eyes.
“Thank you, doctor, for all you’ve done,” Betty concluded. “I can’t wait to get out and meet even more new friends.”
Published on April 23, 2019 08:51
April 19, 2019
Benny suddenly opened his eyes. There was no slow wake from his daily slumber. When the sun set, everything inside of him became alert.
He sat up and walked to the window.
The glaring light hurt his eyes, and heated his face, but this was the only time he could safely see the sun. After only a couple of minutes, it rescinded out of sight.
He put the corner of the paper he had peeled off back into place, let out sigh, and went to the bathroom to shower.
Fully dressed, he threw on his black leather trench coat, grabbed his keys, and walked out of the apartment.
“Benny!” the bartender shouted as he walked into his regular early evening hangout.
“Hey, Tony,” he said, making his way to the bar counter.
Tony slid him his usual. Benny held it up in thanks and sat at his favorite table in the corner.
As it got darker, more people started to arrive, and it wasn’t long before the bar was packed.
Being a Saturday night, Benny wasn’t surprised. Nothing ever surprised him anymore.
He had been alive for over a hundred years, and having traveled the world, he’d seen every variation of crowds there could be.
The clothing might change, but the people themselves never did.
He watched from his corner as more people arrived and formed into different size groups.
“Can I sit here?” a girl asked, pointing to an empty chair at his table.
Benny berated himself for missing the extra chair. He normally moved all of them to other tables, so no one would interrupt him, like this girl was doing now.
He didn’t know what to say. Normally, he would tell the person to piss off, but there was something in her eyes that attracted him.
All he could do was point his hand at the chair and nod.
She sat down.
“Thank you,” she said. “It’s packed in here tonight.”
He only nodded sheepishly.
“Why are you sitting here all by yourself?” she asked.
“Um,” he started. “I usually prefer to be alone.”
Disappointed, she asked, “Would you like me to leave?”
“No, please stay,” he answered, sincerely.
“I’m Jill,” she said.
“I’m Benny,” he replied.
They talked late into the night, when Benny looked at his watch and said he had to leave.
“Oh, an appointment?” she asked.
“Yes,” he answered.
“Will I see you again?” she asked.
“I’d like that,” he replied. “I’m here almost every evening until around this time, when I have to go to work.”
She smiled and said, “What job lets you drink before you go in?”
“I’m a programmer,” he lied. “I work from home.”
“Oh, cool,” she said. “Well, I hope I get to see you again soon.”
“I’d like that,” he said again.
“Me too,” she said, smiling.
He got up, said a final goodbye, and walked out into the darkness.
As he walked down one alley after another, he couldn’t stop thinking about her.
He wasn’t sure how long he could keep up the charade of who he pretended to be. He could never go out with her during the day, and he had responsibilities to perform every night.
But he was also attracted to her and wanted to keep seeing her as long as he was able.
He took a quick glance around to ensure no one was watching him, and then quickly climbed up a fire escape ladder to the roof of the building.
He pulled a ski mask from his pocket and put it on.
Once his face was covered, he walked to the ledge, squatted, and waited until he heard what he was waiting for.
It wasn’t long before the sound came. He stood up and began running in the direction of the commotion.
When he arrived, he found a couple surrounded by half a dozen men, who were taking turns shoving and hitting them.
Benny pulled out a piece of metal with a handle. He pushed the button, and the metal expanded into a short sword.
The men laughed as the couple fell to the ground. They preferred their meat tender.
As soon as the couple hit the pavement, three of the men’s heads flew off their body, as Benny decapitated them with one swing, jumping passed them.
As their bodies collapsed, Benny turned to face the three men that were left.
“Benny, you little shit!” one of them spat at him. “You’re really becoming a pain in our asses!”
Benny only smiled.
The men opened their mouths to reveal fangs.
“I’m going to enjoy this,” the main man said as he charged.
The couple ran off screaming as Benny took out each man, one by one, with little effort.
It was his policy to ensure there were none of the men alive that could report what had happened.
Each time Benny was eventually discovered, he would have to move cities.
He wiped off his short sword, and collapsed it, putting it back into his jacket pocket.
He hated what he had been turned into. What his father turned him into.
His father had been a mob boss, when he was turned into one of those things.
When Benny had come of age, his father invited him to one of his secret meetings, and without even asking him if he wanted to become a blood sucker, his father turned him.
At first, Benny played ball. He ran with the crew, looting, killing, and stealing, but as time went, he grew sick of what he had become.
One night while running with a pack, as they were about to kill a group of teenagers, he turned on them and killed them all.
Realizing what he had done, he left the city to find his own way. He learned martial arts from master after master, and when he had perfected his form, he decided to take the fight to them.
What he hadn’t realized, was that his father’s crew was only a small part of a much larger network. He soon found himself traveling the country hunting until he was discovered, and then fleeing to somewhere else.
After a series of turns down different streets and alleys, he climbed a fire escape to a roof. He jumped from rooftop to rooftop, until he reached a building close to where he lived and climbed down to the ground level again.
He could easily jump down from buildings without injuring himself, but he didn’t want to draw unnecessary attention. He could always explain away him climbing down fire escapes.
As he passed his local watering hole, he saw the girl, Jill, standing outside the front door, smoking.
He was torn between getting home, or crossing the street to talk to her, when the decision was made for him when she saw him and waved.
Reflexively, he waved back.
She threw down her cigarette and jogged across the street to him.
“Hi, Benny,” she said, jumping onto the sidewalk. “I thought you had to work?”
“I did,” he stammered. “I mean I do. I just took a short break. I’m about to get back into it.”
He could see the disappointment in her eyes.
“But I can take a little longer break,” he said, which made her smile.
They walked along the street, Jill telling him everything about herself. Whenever she asked him questions about himself, he only gave vague, but believable answers.
Before he knew it, they were standing in front of her apartment building.
Shyly, she asked, “Would you like to come up?”
Benny was unsure. It had been a very long time since he had been with a woman. He had been so focused on his mission, that he hadn’t even thought about being intimate with anyone before.
“Sure,” he replied, with an embarrassed cough.
Making love to Jill was much more natural than he thought it would be, and it wasn’t until she finally fell asleep in his arms, did the sadness overcome him, as he realized that he had to leave before the sun came up.
He wrote her a small note, ending with that he hoped to see her the next night, and then slipped out the door.
He barely made it back into his apartment before the sun began to rise.
The next night, he woke up with a smile on his face. In the note he had left Jill, he had asked her to meet him at their table at the same time they had met the first night.
He quickly showered, got dressed, and ran out the door.
“Benny!” Tony called out to him as he walked in. “You look especially happy tonight.”
Benny was smiling when he grabbed his usual drink and went to sit at his table.
As the time she was supposed to be there came and passed, Benny became depressed.
‘Could I have been wrong about our connection?’ he asked himself. ‘Maybe for her, it was just a one-night stand.’
He finished his drink and was about to get up to leave, when a large, burly man grabbed a chair and sat down across from him.
Benny knew immediately that he was a vampire, though he knew he couldn’t do anything to him while there were so many witnesses.
“What do you want?” Benny hissed.
“Calmed down,” the man said. “I only come to deliver a message.”
Benny only scowled at him.
“You’ve been very busy over the years, killing your own kind,” the man said. “Your time is up. You are to turn yourself over to us or your little human girlfriend will be our late-night snack tonight.”
Benny’s scowl vanished as he completely understood what the man was implying.
Knowing there was nothing he could do while they were in the bar, and not until he knew where they were keeping Jill, he stood up to follow the man out into the night.
He knew that he could kill this man now and disappear, but he was unable to leave Jill to them to do with as they please.
They approached an SUV where he was shoved into the back seat and a hood thrown over his head. He felt someone’s hand pat him down, find his weapon, and take it out of his pocket.
Thirty minutes later, he heard the vehicle turn onto some gravel and come to a stop.
His hood was torn off his head, and he was shoved back out of the vehicle, where he fell to the ground.
He looked around and saw that there were around twenty men that he could see, and they all looked pissed.
Out of the shadows came a familiar face. His father.
“Benny, my boy,” he started. “You’ve put me in a very bad spot. After you turned on us, I was tasked to find you, or die because of you. As you can see, I chose the former.”
Benny only stared at him, his eyes filled with hatred.
His father raised his hand, and a couple of goons brought Jill into the light for Benny to see.
“You have me, so let her go,” Benny spit at them.
“You’re right,” his father said. “We do have you and have no need for her.”
Before Benny could react, his father reached over and tore out Jill’s throat, spraying blood all over himself and the floor.
As her body fell to the floor, Benny fell to his knees, holding back his tears.
His father took two steps forward and said, “Now it’s your turn, my boy.”
Staring at Jill’s lifeless body, he didn’t even feel all of the punches and kicks they were landing on him.
And then a glimmer of light caught his attention. One of the men that was striking him was holding his weapon.
Benny took a deep breath and when the man came down with another blow. Benny grabbed his arm, head butted him, and pulled his weapon free.
He pushed the button and extended his short sword.
As the blows continued, his eyes turned blood red as adrenaline and hate began to fill him.
With one swing, he took off a man’s head.
They all stopped their attack in surprise, but once they realized what had happened, they all growled and charged at him.
Benny took blows as he slashed, but his attackers were younger than him, and didn’t have the training he had, so he began to cut through them, one by one.
Blood covered the walls. Blood splattered the windows, and the bodies began to fill the floor.
In the end, Benny was covered in blood. Some his, but mostly theirs.
He limped to Jill’s lifeless body and said his apologies. He stayed over her body as long as he could, but he knew the sun would be up soon.
Off to his side, he heard a slight groan.
When he turned and looked, he saw that it was his father bleeding out nearby.
Benny stood up and limped to where his father lay.
His father’s eyes widened when he saw Benny standing over him.
Benny dropped to one knee, looking up and down his father’s body at his injuries.
“You’re going to die,” Benny said.
His father only looked at him, blood spilling out of him.
“All you did was remind me why I will spend the rest of my life hunting you monsters down,” he continued. “I want you to know father, that in the end, it was me who beat you. I want you to know that from this day forward, every beast will know of your failure. You are my message to them.”
As his father looked up at him, Benny took his short sword and shoved into his father’s eye and watched as he gurgled his last breaths.
He pulled the sword back out, wiped it on his father’s chest, collapsed it, and put it back into his jacket pocket.
Without looking back, he limped out of the warehouse and into the darkness.
Published on April 19, 2019 10:22
February 5, 2019
The alarm woke up Daniel.
He groaned as he got up and began getting ready for work.
As he brushed his teeth, he studied himself in the mirror. Though he didn’t notice anything unusual, he had a nagging felling that something was off.
He went through the motions of getting dressed, trying to remember what he did the day before, but the only thing he could remember, was a vague sense of going to work and returning home.
Seeing that it was raining outside, he grabbed his umbrella.
“Good morning, Daniel,” Frankie, the newspaper guy said as he got a paper ready for him. “Why do you have your umbrella out?”
Daniel was confused by the question. He was forced to open the umbrella as soon as he had opened his car door when he parked it, so the inside of his car wouldn’t get wet. It was raining that hard.
The sun was bright and sunny as he collapsed it, not sure how he had missed the change in the weather.
Shrugging it off, he said, “I must be out of it. I didn’t even notice that it stopped raining.”
Frankie looked at him with mild concern but didn’t want to get caught in a long conversation. He was happy when another customer walked up.
“Take care, Daniel,” Frankie said, courteously.
“You too, Frankie,” he replied, taking his newspaper and walking off.
At work, Daniel stared at his screen. He had a strong sense of Déjà vu as he typed up his report. He felt like he had already completed it the previous day.
He searched his computer, trying to find it, but he couldn’t.
‘Man,’ he thought. ‘I am not with it today.’
“Hi, Daniel,” a beautiful woman said, breaking him from his train of thought.
“Oh, hi,” he replied, trying to remember who the woman was. As far as he could remember, he had never seen her before.
“We still on for dinner tonight?” she asked.
“Um,” was all he could say.
He didn’t know how to tell the woman he had no idea who she was.
“I’m sorry,” he started. “Do I know you?”
“What?” she asked, lightly laughing. “Are you feeling okay today?”
Unsure how to answer, he tried to keep it casual.
“I do seem to be feeling a little off today, but I’m afraid I have no idea what you’re talking about. Do you work here? I’ve never seen you before.”
She looked at him quizzically.
Confused, she answered, “Maybe we should try this again when you’re feeling better.”
Before he could say anything else, she walked away.
‘This is turning into a very weird day,’ he thought. He wondered if he should just head home and get some rest.
He stood up to go tell his boss he was leaving, when he banged his knee on his living room coffee table.
“Shit!” he yelped, rubbing his knee. “What the hell?”
Panic set in as he now found himself in his living room at home. He looked out the window and saw that it was now night out.
‘How the hell did I get home?’ he asked himself.
He ran to the garage, partially relieved to see his car safely parked there.
He had never blacked out before, even when he used to go out drinking in his twenties.
Fear was starting to creep in.
Wanting to know the date, he pulled out his phone. The date seemed correct. It was Tuesday but it was now 6:00 pm.
Visibly shaking, he sunk into the couch.
For some reason, he felt the need to run, though he had no idea where he would run to.
Not able to remember what had happened to the day, or how he got home, he finally got up and poured himself a drink.
One drink turned into several, and he soon passed out on the couch.
The next morning, he slowly crawled out of bed, and began his normal routine of getting ready, hoping to not have a redo of the day before.
He was willing to chock up the day before as a one-time deal, but in the back of his mind, he was worried about a repeat.
At work, he sat as his desk, wondering if the same woman from the day before would return to confront him about why he didn’t remember her. He had mentally prepared himself for the encounter.
Half way through the day, he saw her enter the office. He kept his gaze on her as she walked right past his desk, only giving him a passing smile.
Confused, he turned in his chair to continue staring as she walked away and sat at another desk across the room.
Trying to be as inconspicuous as possible, he watched her, hoping that she would approach him about what had happened the day before.
Impatience took over, and he decided to initiate the confrontation.
He walked over to her desk and said, “Hi.”
She looked up at him, and with a friendly smile, replied with a ‘Hi’ of her own.
They both stared at each other awkwardly.
Finally, Daniel broke the silence by saying, “So about yesterday. I’m sorry if I seemed rude. Yesterday was just an overall weird day for me.”
She looked at him confused.
“I’m sorry,” she started. “I’m afraid I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Now it was Daniel’s turn to be confused.
“Yesterday. When you came to my desk about having dinner together,” he explained.
“What?” she replied with a nervous laugh.
Daniel couldn’t help but notice when she looked around, probably hoping to see a security guard.
“You don’t remember?” he asked.
She slowly shook her head and said, “I’m afraid you have me confused with someone else.”
Although Daniel was sure he had the right woman, he couldn’t help but second guess himself.
Not wanting to make her any more uncomfortable than he obviously already had, he apologized, and walked away towards his desk.
He almost had a heart attack when suddenly he heard a horn blaze and a car slam on its breaks, stopping within inches of where he was standing.
Eyes wide, he looked around to find himself standing in the middle of the street.
It was as if he had been crossing the street but stopped mid track.
Consumed with fear, he leapt onto the nearest sidewalk and tried to regain his bearing.
He looked around, trying to recognize where he was. Once he realized where he was, he made a quick bee line to his car and drove home.
As he poured himself a drink, his entire body was shaking, even more violently than it had the day before.
‘I’m losing my mind,’ he thought, barely able to take a sip without splashing the drink everywhere.
He paced back and forth in the living room, tapping his head, trying to remember how he had ended up in the middle of the street, but no answers came.
The sun began to set, as if an example of what was to come for Daniel. He again sunk into the couch, feeling more tired than he ever had in his life.
Dr. Franzen was becoming concerned with what was happening.
“He’s going to crash if we can’t fix this,” he said. “What is happening with the artificial environment?”
“We are trying to figure it out,” Dr. Norris replied. “It’s as if his mind is fighting the simulation. The only thing I can think of is that his mind knows it’s not real and is trying to break away.”
Dr. Franzen paced nervously. He couldn’t afford to lose the test subject so close to the deadline.
“What can we do to stabilize the environment?” he asked Dr. Norris.
“When he falls asleep again, we need to take away the woman, and recreate the routine he is used to,” Dr. Norris responded. “I think we should simplify the simulation, so that the brain will accept it as real.”
The idea made sense and they both hoped that it would work.
Their clients were some of the most powerful people in the world, and as they were nearing the end of their lives, Doctors Franzen and Norris had been tasked with finding a way to store their clients’ consciousness until the day came when they could implant them into a clone, or other mechanical body.
Daniel was the only test subject that had lasted this long, and if they failed with him, there would be no more time to try again before their clients began dying off.
The both knew that they would be dead long before their powerful clients were.
“Okay, force him to sleep and reset the day,” Dr. Franzen said. “And let’s hope that after a few cycles, he stabilizes.”
Daniel woke up with a jump. He was surprised he had been able to fall asleep after what had happened the day before, but it was now a new day, and he was almost too terrified to leave the house.
He peeked out the windows as if he was expecting to find the world on fire, but it looked like any other day, beautiful and sunny.
His body continued to shake as he slowly got dressed, drove to work, and sat down at his desk.
With every step he took, he expected to blink and be somewhere else. When that didn’t happen, he eventually began to calm down.
When he began typing at his computer, the stress of the last couple of days began to fade away, as the routine of work slowly made him feel safe.
He glanced over at the desk where the woman had sat the day before, but it now stood empty.
‘Maybe she’s sick today,’ he thought, somewhat relieved.
Nothing strange happened the rest of the day, and by the time he fell asleep that night, he finally felt as if the world had returned to normal.
Each day got easier to get through, as nothing out of the ordinary happened. The woman never returned to her desk and he decided to pretend it had never happened. He was afraid to ask anyone about her, so he didn’t.
The days began to blend together into a repetitious loop, but the sense of déjà vu was gone. Doing the same report every day felt normal.
Doctors Franzer and Norris gave each other pats on the back as it finally seemed all their work had paid off.
The test subject was stable and even seemed to be thriving. Though they never figured out what had gone wrong in the first place, now that the project was progressing, they didn’t care.
They felt they could now go to their clients and happily tell them that when their time came, they would be able to safely store their consciousnesses into a virtual environment until the day arrived when they could be implanted into a permanent body.
“Hi, Daniel!” Frankie greeted him with a wave as he approached.
Daniel raised his arm to wave back when suddenly, he found himself staring helplessly as a train barreled down the tracks toward him.
He stood there paralyzed with fear, until he could only muster enough strength to close his eyes and scream.
Instead of being struck by the train, he found himself unable to breathe as water entered his mouth, choking him.
He opened his eyes to see that he was surrounded by water. As he began to drown, he flailed his arms, pulling himself towards the surface as fast as he could.
Water exploded out of his mouth, as he broke the surface of the ocean he found himself in.
Gasping for breath, he looked around to see what hell he had arrived at.
Then he saw the beach, and beginning to feel his strength fail him, he began swimming the best he could fully dressed, towards it.
He was still paddling as hard as he could with his arms and kicking as hard as he could with his legs, when suddenly, the ocean disappeared, and he found himself falling from a rooftop towards the street below.
Falling from approximately sixty floors, he had enough time to hope that he would vanish to somewhere else before he hit the ground, but unfortunately for him, this was to be the last glitch before he would be declared brain dead in the real world.
Published on February 05, 2019 12:59