Weekly Short Stories Contest and Company! discussion

Weekly Short Story Contests > Week 160 (March 19-27). Stories. Topic: Subliminal Suggestion.

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message 1: by M (new)

M | 11264 comments You have until March 27 to post a story, and on March 28 and 29 we’ll vote for which one we thought was best.

Please post directly into the topic and not a link. Please don’t use a story previously used in this group.

Your story should be between 300 and 3,500 words long.

REMEMBER! A short story is NOT a scene. It MUST have a BEGINNING, MIDDLE, and END.

This week’s topic is: Subliminal Suggestion.

The rules are pretty loose. You could write a story about anything that has to do with the subject. I do not care, but it must relate to the story somehow.

Have fun!

message 2: by Kelsie (new)

Kelsie (elsiekay42) Hmm... this is an interesting topic. :)

message 3: by Saira (new)

Saira (herumouni) | 667 comments Honestly the first thought that came to my head was how seduction turned out. XD But I think I have something completely unrelated to that. Lol

message 4: by M (new)

M | 11264 comments That’s interesting, Saira! Originally I was going to use “Subliminal Seduction” but changed it because “Seduction” had already been used as a topic.

message 5: by D.L. (last edited Mar 21, 2013 11:31AM) (new)

D.L. Christopher (DLChristopher) | 15 comments Hi, first post - managed to get something done during work, just a straight first draft I'm afraid - so don't hold it against me. Anyway, here goes:


Just do it. The image flashed repeatedly in the left-hand corner of his field of vision. The advertising was becoming more invasive and half field – or even full field adverts were now being sold with increasing regularity. Sure, they were obliged by law to avoid all but the smallest part-field advertisement whilst you were driving (besides which – a dead consumer spends less money), but the golden arches that plastered themselves across his vision as he ate his shop-bought sandwich and the cola logos, the sheer size of which mocked his bottled tap water, were becoming a major irritation. Yet, there was something wrong with this – and other advertisements – he had been in receipt of lately. They were usually so well placed that these anomalies had caused him to repeatedly run diagnostic checks on his GPS. It was fine. Each time it was fine, yet he found himself becoming increasingly anxious. There would be a reasonable explanation for it, he thought, it would be some new software beta misfiring, failing on occasion to correctly match his activity to the advertisement. The brand in question would not be pleased, however – though it gave him a degree of sly, somewhat dissident satisfaction that they would lose revenue as a result of him failing to report the malfunction. Unless they were to unexpectedly diversify, they would sell few products advertising over the purchase of steak knives.

Most likely the sense of unease was caused by the long absence from his daily schedule – he had been sequestered with the rest of the jury for weeks now as the murder trial of the century continued. A remarkable eighteen murders over the space of a year and the accused sat there in the dock with the merest flicker of a smile twisting his full lips with every new piece of anecdotal evidence the prosecution brought forth. He had been caught completely by accident, kneeling over the mutilated remains of a victim, by an off duty policeman. It was the kind of a break they had been hoping for for almost twelve months as body after body was found, with eyes scooped from their skulls, their bodies savagely tattered. The man had been covered in the victim’s blood and yet footage played back from the police officer’s iCam, shook from side to side, tracking the disbelief of the officer as the man protested his innocence in the same, calm, amused voice he used to bat away each question from the prosecution. His GPS data was conveniently corrupted or featured remarkable deviation on the days of the murders. It was not unheard of for data to be regularly corrupt; if the software updates and accompanying updated licence agreements – all we ask is your privacy for your convenience – were not kept up to date, glitches were possible. On every date, though? The man would smile warmly and encourage the jury to once more view the evidence of his own iCam – which showed him carrying out normal every day activity, bland almost to the point of suspicious, yet despite the Technological Crime Unit pointing to some slight phasing of the footage in high definition close up, there was nothing concrete to point to some unprecedented tampering with the footage.

The court was on a session break and he took the opportunity to wander from the courthouse along the dilapidated high-street. The trial was drawing to an end and he was hoping to do some climbing when it was over, a weekend away with the cleaner air of the mountains to calm him after the horrors of the trial, the catalogue of atrocities performed upon the dead, their eyes were gouged to remove their implants, of that the prosecution could be sure, they could not fathom the mutilation, though they described it to the jury in sickening detail. He entered a sports shop, looking for some new climbing equipment, he passed the crampons and the harnesses, stopping to handle and stroke the weave of a climbing rope. Just do it. The message flashed again, he supposed it was closer to the targeted advert they were intending, but still he felt that wave of anxiety wash over him. He shuddered and left the store in a hurry, aiming to head back to the courthouse where advertisements were at least blocked in both the courtroom and the room to which the jury retired between sessions. Members of the media tracked him as he passed, their glassy eyes partially hidden behind fluttering eyelids as his public record was no doubt displayed for their delectation.

He was worried the jury would be hung. The evidence itself was hardly convincing, a mishmash of theories and innuendo, the prosecution doing their best to sew the seed of the man’s guilt in the jury’s collective mind, yet it was thin at best. What had convinced him was the man’s ceaseless calm, the amused half smile and occasionally, when looking down to check his notes following a witness testimony, he had caught the man looking straight at him, straight through him. The cold, blue eyes unashamedly penetrating him. He had tried not to acknowledge that he had seen these looks, yet they caused him to shiver inwardly each time. There was something in those eyes. No. That wasn’t quite correct. There was an absence of something in those eyes. He would vote guilty and damn the evidence. His heart was racing, his palms sweating by the time he reached the jury room. He collapsed into his seat with a pained sigh, his head had begun to pulse as what felt like the beginnings of a migraine wrapped its fingers around his brain and squeezed. He fumbled in his satchel for the bottle of paracetamol he kept there, drawing them out with shaking hands before scattering a few white tablets onto his palm. Just do it. The slogan pulsed in time with the throbbing headache, a deep, blood red in colour. His eyes seemed to cloud with the pain, but he fumbled the tablets into his mouth and swallowed them with the dregs of lukewarm water left in a plastic cup on the large conference table. Adverts weren’t permitted in here, he knew. The malfunction was getting worse. He would have to notify their technical support when he returned to the hotel for the night, he hoped, in the meantime, that the painkillers would do their job.

The afternoon session was a bitter-sweet relief from the advertisements, yet they were replaced by different, wholly terrifying images conjured by his own mind to accompany a further litany of horror from the lips of the prosecution barrister. All the while, the cool blue eyes of the defendant seemed to stare in turn at each of the jurors, with an intensity that prickled the skin. He tried to keep his head down, focussing on his notes – or when the occasion demanded it at the barristers or judge. He could feel that stare. Whenever the man’s eyes came to rest upon him – real or imagined – he began to itch all over and struggled to restrain himself from scratching himself raw. At the end of the session, the judge informed the courtroom that the following day would be the final day of evidence before the jury convened to make a decision. He could not remember having been so relieved, the thought that he would no longer see those cold eyes or hear the litany of horror from the legal lips – but for in his dreams, he thought, where he would still see them for a long time to come – filled him with an unexpected elation. Soon the man would be incarcerated, he hoped, and the world would – for him at least – return to normal for the length of that sentence. He stepped from the courtroom to find his headache waiting for him, the jury room was stifling hot and his head once more began to throb and pulse and ache like no migraine he had ever had before.

He made his way down the stairs to the entrance hall of the courthouse, groping along the balustrade to keep his balance, knuckles whitening as he attempted to force his arms to take the weight his legs no longer would. Just do it. It flashed in the nightmarish colours of a pit of writhing, poisonous snakes. Just do it. He forced himself through the mingling people in the entrance hall, attracting looks of alternating pity and annoyance from those he brushed past. His face had grown pale and blotchy, sweat coursed from his forehead down his temples and cheeks, falling to the stone floor with impossible thuds that threatened to deafen him. He stumbled into the light of the street, falling to his knees. Forcing himself to his feet, panic rising he located the mini-bus, his eyes blurring the world into some grotesque impressionist landscape. Just do it. He would sue them for this, he thought.Just do it. He would make them pay through the nose for this. Just do it. He could hear the sound of the traffic. Just do it. It was distant somehow. Just do it. The letters of the slogan throbbed and writhed and flashed, growing, commanding him as it began to stray outside of its normal field. Just do it.

He stepped into the road.

The squeal of the breaks alerted him too late to the oncoming bus and he turned his head just in time to see the horrified face of the driver looming up at him before the darkness enveloped him. The news of his death was given prior to the morning session of the following day. The man with the cold blue eyes smiled then cast his eyes over the remaining members of the jury, coming to rest on a small, furtive looking man in a tweed jacket. It would surely only take one more before the jury was discharged, perhaps the next jury would be a little more sympathetic. Until then, he had his next target market.

message 6: by M (new)

M | 11264 comments D.L., this story is not only a chilling portrait of a psychopathic killer (seen through the eyes of the main character), but it has an interesting twist!

message 7: by D.L. (new)

D.L. Christopher (DLChristopher) | 15 comments Thank you very much, it's still really rough - but I liked the theme and had to try and get something done for it!

message 8: by Ryan (new)

Ryan | 5330 comments Hi, D.L., and congratulations on your first post. What a great way to start! That is a great read, very skillfully linked to the theme and gripping from start to finish. Thoroughly enjoyable, thanks!

message 9: by D.L. (last edited Mar 22, 2013 01:49PM) (new)

D.L. Christopher (DLChristopher) | 15 comments Ryan wwrote: Hi, D.L., and congratulations on your first post. What a great way to start! That is a great read, very skillfully linked to the theme and gripping from start to finish. Thoroughly enjoyable, thanks!

Thank you, it's appreciated. I've been wondering whether to collect some of my sci-fi stories for another Kindle collection, so have been in a bit of a sci-fi mood - this theme couldn't have come at a better time really. Looking forward to reading how everyone else dealt with it!

message 10: by Amith (new)

Amith Vikram | 8 comments Moments of joy

They have been going out for a while now, unofficially. It was a beautiful day and everyone seemed to be in some sort of pleasing reverie due to the constant breeze of cool air and the sight of beautiful avenue of giant green trees waving. They were walking down the D V Gundappa road chatting non-stop and smiling at each other. It can't get better than this, he felt. She is hot, she is smart and she is hot. For someone who has bathed in the sacred rivers of depression, failure and hopelessness, it was like liberation. There was the issue of not having a proper job, news of mass murder, general disharmony in his mind which he stomped on and walked away to a few moments of joy. He was always shy of girls but ever since he became one of those 'failure on the face of earth' type of guys he had virtually become invisible. But then, you never know when life will take a U turn. They decided to stop by a small hotel. "Listen, you get in and reserve a table, I'll be right back" he said. "Why what is it?" she asked. "Nothing, just have to recharge my phone" he said. She was sipping a cup of coffee on a table by the open window and he came back with flowers. She was delighted at the same time became a little conscious of the surroundings. They looked at each other with their pause-while-you-smile faces for a moment.

"This is for you" he said and gave the flowers to her. She took it admiring it and kept it carefully beside her. "wow, they are beautiful, thank youuu.." she said in a way that would annoy you if you were not dating her. He took his seat and looked relaxed with a constant smile on his face. He leaned back on the chair with his eyes fixed on her as if studying her face. She looked confused but knew exactly what was going on but she didn't wanted to talk about it. "I like you" he said, "I really like you". Her hand was not on the table so he couldn't hold it, but it's not a movie anyway. "I want to know if you feel the same way towards me" he said. Her smile slowly faded into a princess-of-all-three-worlds look. "I am sorry, but I have always considered you as a good friend but.....No. I am really sorry" she said. Another disaster. Nothing new, he thought. "That's okay" he said smilingly. This is pathetic, he thought. He wanted to know a lot of things: was he not good enough? what could a woman think of except men? career? bitch please...Anyway this is over, he thought. But he wanted to handle this smoothly, without exploding from agony. From past three months until entering this cafe, life seemed to take off positively but then, whatever goes up comes down, some or the other day. There was an excess of awkwardness at that table, both trying to look away from each other. Suddenly, the ceiling, his shoe lace, the spoon and the window frame looked very interesting. Finally they got up and left.
Outside the cafe, the world had changed for him. The beautiful trees, the excellent weather nothing could cheer him up. In spite of his self-control, he rudely bid her goodbye and stormed away from her as if she was a cop and he was a thief.

message 11: by M (new)

M | 11264 comments This is an interesting story, Shara. The lack of any real connection between the characters comes across clearly; and though there’s not much description of the setting, I get a sense of it almost as though it were a documentary. The characters seem real.

message 12: by Amith (new)

Amith Vikram | 8 comments Thanks for your comment M.

and though there’s not much description of the setting, I get a sense of it almost as though it were a documentary

This was deliberate.

message 13: by Beansoda (new)

Beansoda Howdy folks, first post. I've been reading a lot of short stories lately and I wanted to get in on the fun. I am a novice writer and I'm not afraid of criticism! I'm hoping it will help make me a better writer. That being said--thanks! I look forward to reading everyone's submissions.


Charlie wasn’t very good at driving.  It was official.  He’d been reprimanded by a variety of authority figures because of this.  

“You’re the worst!” - Charlie’s ex-girlfriend.

“Help, police!” - Charlie’s first and last hitchhiker.

“Sir, please step out of the vehicle.” - Officer Samuels.

Now, everyone knew that Charlie meant no harm.  Aside from his dangerous and often inexplicable driving habits, he was quite the upstanding citizen.  Last week, he helped Old Mrs. Johnson cross Burberry Street.  The week before that, he purchased over thirty dollars in Muffin Scout Cookies and then he donated--DONATED--them to the Charleston Department of Motor Vehicles.  The majority of Charlie’s good deeds were done, it was noted in several town hall meetings, on foot.

Everyone agreed that it was in the town’s best interest if Charlie kept his two feet on the ground.  The judge at Charlie’s most recent court appearance had arranged for him to be employed within walking distance of his home in Charleston Gardens.  Old Mister Johnson offered the use of his pickup (driven by Mister Johnson, of course) if Charlie ever needed to move furniture or large amounts of baked goods.  The streets were safe once again, and the entire community breathed a sigh of relief.

But not Charlie.

On this particular Tuesday, he felt his mind wander as he walked to his job at the Charleston Public Library.  He looked down at the sidewalk as the lines passed his feet like the world’s slowest film projection.  




The sounds coming from his shoes had only enough juice to travel to his ears and remind him that his ancestors had longed for more power.  Vehicles must be invented.  Loud, smoke belching beasts should replace the light pit pat pit of beaten path footsteps with uproarious vibrations and sooty gusts of wind.

As Charlie arrived at the library, he found himself longing for a pair of those leather gloves with the fingertips removed.  

“Good morning Charlie,” a weary sounding Old Mrs. Johnson said.

“Good morning Mrs. Johnson.  Do you happen to have an old pair of gloves you’re looking to get rid of?”



And so the day began. Charlie shelved his books.  He pushed the book cart down the aisles, listening to the squeals of protest from the wheels.


Wheels.  Screeching on asphalt.  The smell of fresh pavement on a summer day.  Music blasting from a thousand speakers in the front seat, back seat and trunk.  The manual shifting of gears.  The smile of someone pretty in the front seat giggling and saying his name, Charlie... Charlie... oh Charlie...

“Charlie!” yelled Old Mrs. Johnson, from the front desk.  “Slow down with the cart please.”  Old Mrs. Johnson felt comfortable yelling when there weren’t any patrons in the library.  Charlie looked down at a few books that had spilled from the cart and onto the orange carpet.  “And go easy on the vroom vroom noises please, and thank you.”

Charlie bent down to retrieve his lost cargo.   A Thousand and One Ways to Cultivate Moss.  Topiaries for Dummies.  The Secret Life of Boilermakers.   He returned them to his cart and began to push on when one of the wheels became stuck on something.  He bent down and retrieved a compact disc that was meant for re-shelving: 1001 Sound Effects, Vol 3: Automotive and Transportation.

It was the longest day Charlie had ever worked at the library.  The hands on the clock seemed to barely move until it was time for his lunch break.  He skipped to the break room with a fervor he hadn’t known since the day he got his driver’s license.

Charlie put on his headphones and plugged in the loaner compact-disc player.  He was ready.  

Ready for Track 1: “1965 Volkswagen, 35 mph, Interior.” He pressed play.  The sound of a buzzing, wheezing lawnmower engine began almost immediately.  This didn’t sound like the Volkswagen in Charlie’s head.  It was quite disappointing, actually.

Track 8 looked good: “1972 Plymouth, L to R, 65mph, Exterior.”  It was even worse than the Volkswagen, but this time in stereo.  

Track 17: “Dirigible take off/landing.” It sounded like a sad, deflating bee.  

Track 26: “Train locomotive, interior.”

This one wasn’t too bad.  It reminded Charlie of the train rides he took to Summerville as a child.  He could almost feel the rocking back and forth of the car as he closed his eyes.  He inhaled the faint smell of cigarettes on the clothes of passengers who just got on board.  Lulled into a sleepy daze, Charlie looked out the passenger car window and his mouth opened wide.

Up in the sky was a jet flying next to the train.  It flew off after a few minutes and was replaced by a giant blimp.  Charlie waved to the fancy people on the blimp, and they waved back, fancily.  The blimp puttered off and made way for a fleet of dancing fighter jets--the kind you hear about at air shows that make designs in the sky with various colors of smoke.  Charlie looked around the train and realized that no one else was interested in the spectacle outside.

The trip went on with a parade of every kind of transportation imaginable.  Jets, bi-planes, motorcycles, and even some things Charlie had never seen before.  He suspected a few were alien spaceships of some kind.

Charlie barely noticed the conductor enter the train car.  She was an old woman, with a jittery gait.  She went from seat to seat, checking tickets hurriedly and often dropping them behind her.  She looked a lot like Old Mrs. Johnson.

“Charlie!  There’s an emergency.  We need you up front.  Come on.” She grabbed his wrist and led him through the next two cars, past oblivious passengers as the roars of flying mopeds were heard overhead.

She led him into the main engine compartment.  “You have to drive.  Mister Johnson is having a heart attack.  Hospital.  Now!”  Charlie looked down at the slumped train engineer.  He did look a lot like Old Mister Johnson.  Charlie gently pushed him aside and took hold of the various gears and knobs.  He’d never driven a train before, but this one felt somewhat familiar.  

“Turn left here!” Old Mrs. Johnson said.  Charlie pulled a variety of levers and pushed large, rusty buttons and slowly, the train began to veer to the left.  The tracks groaned as they bent and formed new paths through the countryside.  Trees and hills stepped out of the way for the loud, grumbling bullet that made its way into town.  Charlie could see the tall gray building of Charleston Memorial Hospital in the distance.

Charlie let the throttle go, and the charging metal beast relaxed and panted as they approached the hospital.  The locomotive and its accompanying passenger cars clanked into the Valley View Hospital parking lot at a quarter to 8 p.m.  Men in baggy blue clothes gently pulled Old Mister Johnson out of the locomotive and on to a wheeled stretcher.  As Charlie walked home, jets colored the sky with red, white and blue smoke.  

The next day, several people honked at Charlie as he walked to work.  Old Mrs. Johnson greeted him with a long hug and a box of Muffin Scout Cookies.  Later that night, the town voted to give Charlie his driving privileges back, as soon as he completed Officer Samuels’ auto safety course.  Old Mister Johnson is doing fine.

message 14: by Paul (new)

Paul | 61 comments Last chance at peace


The platform is crowded by the time I skid down the escalator. It was the usual early morning crowd of business men complete with bowler hats and freshly minted executive newspaper headlines.
I'm just glad to get out of the freezing chill of the London streets that bustles high above our heads. You can feel the warmth from the darkened tunnels where only moments before a tube had pulsated through leaving the stark smell of electrical energy in its wake.
Moving through the suits and power dressed women I make my way to the platform edge. Amongst the crackling paper and inhuman grunts I hear the reassuring sound of rumbling and the ride home.
Looking up the electronic display reads 'Epping 2 mins approx'. Checking my phone for missed calls and time I realise that perhaps after all I won't be late after all. Something makes me look up at the display which flashes for a millisecond with the words, 'Save her soul'. Rubbing my eyes I look again but it's disappeared if It was really there.
Looking around my eyes focus across the platform through the decorated arch and at adjacent platform which flows in the opposite direction. A tube has just hissed and thudded to a stop.
Through the glass doors a young girl is standing staring back at me. For some reason for a millisecond we connect through something like thought waves or some science fiction techno babble.
In that nanosecond I see her whole life; as a baby getting her lip bitten by a dog, being bullied for her drunken father, her first kiss, a disastrous job interview- spilling hot coffee on the boss. Then I see myself, laying next to her in bed mapping out a future of babies and cheap flat-pack furniture in a crummy bedsit in Clapham.
Then blinking the connections gone, blown away in a whoosh of electrical discharge as the tube hurtles through the darkness and into the future.
I'm just shaking my head, which feels like it's full of cobwebs when the platform shudders and we're all thrown to the floor. It feels like an earthquake has hit is my last thought as hitting the ground I can only watch in horror as a ball of flame hurtles out of the opposite platform carrying metal, limbs and history in it's wake.


I was going to be late was my only thought as I wait patiently with the working London select. Nobody is paying me any attention, they are to absorbed in the fluctuating shares and bonuses of the privileged.
Up above me the shiny neon display flashes my ride home in two minutes. Deep in the mouth of the tunnel I can hear the mighty roar of steel upon steel as a train thunders ever onward toward its destination.
Glancing up the display flickers, and sparks rain down like glittering confetti before finally it forms the words, 'Time is running out for the girl. '
Turning to one of the suits I ask him, 'Did you read that?'
'What?' He replies, clearly annoyed that I had disturbed his reading.
'The sign, it was flicking and sparking.'
Grunting at me it was obvious that he hadn't witnessed any such thing and had branded me a total nutter, which perhaps wasn't far from the truth.
That was when I see her. She is standing squashed against the glass door of the tube on the opposite side of the track. Even from here I feel I can count every strand of blonde hair upon her pretty head. I'm sure I've seen her from somewhere before.
She is mouthing something. Lip reading I'm sure it's 'Save me please' over and over again with what seems like eternity. I know her eyes are green as emeralds that are full of longing and fearful of despair and pain.
For the first time in my life I feel a yearning in the pit of my heart. This must be what they call love.
Sprinting across the concourse I push and shove my way though to the train shouting at the top of my voice, 'I won't let you die this time.' I don't know these words that leave my mouth but they seem right.
Reaching the train I frantically stab at the door release button to no avail.
The door refuses to open.
The girl presses herself against the glass her eyes full of sorrowful love. Our hands meet at the top of the glass, pressed together with only glass separating a loving touch. With painful heart I know this will be the last time that we will meet.
With a tortured exhalation of metal the train slowly slides away into the darkened tunnel as our eyes are locked in a embrace of love and longing.
As it disappears into the darkness I see a pinpoint of light that turns into an explosion of light and thunder that hurtles back up the tunnel before pushing me back with enormous energy. The last thing I think before I lose conscious is surely I have one chance left?


I can't be late this time I think to myself as I skate down the escalator and push and shove my way to the waiting tube. Just as I reach the yawning doorway I trip over some fools briefcase and go flying on the hard concrete. With a hiss of what sounds like amusement the door slides shut on my future. I'm never going to get home in time now I think as I clutch my throbbing head.
'Are you alright, mate?' Someone says leading me to a bench.
'Fine, what time is the next train, I've got to get home," I say, looking up at the digital display above my head.
"It be here in a few minutes, don't worry mate."
But I'm not listening because the displays flickered for a nanosecond and reads, "'This is your last chance to turn left."
In my throbbing head I didn't know what was more bizarre; a sign reading that this was the last chance or the fact that my life could take a left turn. How many chances had I been given or what was the chance I was supposed to perform?
Or then again perhaps I had imagined the whole thing, after all it was a pretty hefty bump to the head. All I knew instinctively was that message was meant for me and there was a reason I missed the tube and would be late getting home.
That's when I see her; the prettiest girl I've ever clapped my eyes on. She is watching me from the other tube across the concourse. I know she is going to die unless I save her, for some reason that was embedded in my DNA.
By the time I reach the other side of the concourse the girl has vanished. Frantically looking around I spot her out of the corner of my eye; she is jousting her way through a maze of bodies in the packed carriage. The doors whoosh open as I approach the tube and slide shut with a brutal clang as the tube slowly moves off.
I can see her in the distance; her floral dress a blaze of colour amid the drab and dross of the featureless carriage. Then it hits me what's so strange about her.
She's wearing a large rucksack; carrying it like she's burdened with all the worlds problems. Pushing and shoving my way like a madman through the early morning throng I finally reach her and our eyes meet.
"Don't do it, please don't do it," I say
"Why? Give me I good reason why?" She replies her eyes full of fanatic aggression.
"Because I love you. Even through I've never met you we're bound together with something special and you don't deserve to die, and neither do these people."
"That's the worst chat up line I've ever heard," she says laughing.
"You've been brain washed or something, mind control or some crazy crap like that. You don't want do this, we've got a future of happiness," I say, trying in vain to get the rucksack from her.
Looking at her phone which flickers in the sudden darkness of the tunnel she screams, "Welcome to a future in hell," before pressing the detonate button she's concealed under her coat.
Shutting my eyes I prepare for the blast that never comes. I never see the undercover
agent that has deactivated the bomb strapped to her back while I kept her talking.
But what I do see and the girl is her phone beeping a message, "Give peace and love at least one chance."

message 15: by Kelsie (new)

Kelsie (elsiekay42) Jump

I gazed down at my sleeping son, smiling. He looked so peaceful in his sleep, so carefree and at ease. No stress, no worries, nothing. My wife stroked his hair, gently brushing the long curly locks off his sticky face.

“It’s hot in here,” Kayla said, turning to me. “Do you mind turning on the air?”

“Not at all, hun.” I said, and after leaning over to plant a quick kiss on her cheek, I reached up and twisted the knobs above us, releasing the cool, slightly stale smelling air. It blew lightly over Kayla’s forehead and she smiled, relieved.

“Good afternoon passengers!” the pilot’s voice suddenly blared through the intercom, bright and overwhelmingly cheerful. “If I could just have a moment of your time, please, it would be much appreciated.” He stopped and coughed before continuing. “It’s looking like a nice, smooth journey from here on to Tahiti, so please sit back and enjoy the on-flight presentation of ‘Journey to the Center of The Earth’.” There was a pause while he exchanged a few words with his copilot, both of them speaking in low murmurs. “Also, can we have Mr. Ben Lee please come on down here? Thanks, and everyone enjoy the rest of your trip!”

I had sat up at the sound of my name, surprised. Kayla’s face mimicked my confusion, and after unbuckling my seatbelt I made my way into the narrow aisle and headed towards the cockpit, the plane gently rolling from side to side as it glided through the air. At the door, one of the attendants glanced up at me, her bright cherry red lipstick contrasting sharply against her pale white skin. Her lips pulled back in a smile, revealing each of her perfect teeth.

“Welcome, Mr. Lee,” she said, opening the door and gesturing me in.

“Ahh, Ben!” exclaimed the pilot when I entered. He turned around to look at me, his eyes bright blue and filled with excitement.“We’ve been expecting you. I’m so glad you’re finally here.” He extended his hand in my direction. “My name is Michael and-” All of a sudden there was a giant explosion from behind me, but before I could react I was slammed against the ceiling. Then, I began tumbling and twisting in the air, my body crashing into the walls and windows of the cockpit. My stomach was lurching around inside of me, unsure if it would be able to contain my earlier meal. As I was falling, I heard a sharp crack, and when the plane hit the water with a giant splash, it began to sink. The roof above us snapped and water began leaking in. I ran over to the door without thinking and opened it; next thing I knew, a giant wave of lukewarm, salty, ocean water crashed into me and forced me back into the window. I banged my head hard, but after a second or two, when the ringing subsided, I was able gather enough energy to swim through the door. On the other side, there was nothing but clear, light blue ocean water shimmering with golden specks of sunlight; the plane cabin was gone. I hovered there frozen, trying to take in the sight before me, until I started to become light headed from the lack of oxygen. Mustering whatever strength I could, I propelled my way up through the water. I reached the surface gasping as my body struggled to get the air it so desperately craved. I floated there for a moment, the hot sun blazing down on my bare neck. To my right there was a splash and I looked over as the captain broke the top of the rippling water. Taking deep breaths, he turned to me and said “Is there anyone else up here?” I scanned the area but there was nothing except the occasional rolling wave passing by.

“Come on,” said the pilot, turning and swimming off. Dazed, I took a deep breath and followed him.

I suddenly jerked out of sleep, shaking and covered in sweat. The dream, it was so realistic; I swear I could actually feel the heat of the sun, smell the salt of the ocean, hear the voice of my wife. I felt as if I had relived the whole incident a second time. I buried my face in my hands as my thoughts drifted towards Kayla and Damon. My wife, I thought, My son. Gone, gone forever. As tears slowly trickled down my face, I glanced up at the sky and watched as the creamy, peach-orange of late afternoon began to fade into a solid, dark purple with tiny cloud wisps winding gracefully across it. Another day, gone, I thought. How long I’d been on this island, I had no clue; could be a week, or a month, or even a year as far as I knew. I had no idea where I was; the captain had led me here and I never got the chance to ask him how he knew this existed before he died of blood loss from a major leg wound. I never even got the chance to ask him how he knew me, and why he was expecting me on the plane.

I watched the white cloud threads string across the sky, forming beautiful abstract shapes. As I surveyed them, the clouds shifted until they spelled out the word “Jump” in a graceful script. Huh, I thought, Isn’t that something? Right as I began to wish I had a camera, the sky suddenly turned bright red and the clouds began to ooze a jet black liquid from the sky. I fell backwards, horrified, and closed my eyes. When I opened them, however, it was gone; the sky was its calm pink again and the remaining’s of “Jump” were fading away.

Confused, I stood up shaking and began trekking through the forest. Without warning, a huge pang of pain struck my head and I fell sideways into a tree, bruising my arm. Leaves fell from its branches on impact, and as they swirled down in front of me they rearranged themselves to form the word “Jump” in midair. I stared at it for a moment as it hovered there and then smacked it away, heart pounding. The leaves crumbled to the ground and I watched, horrified as the tiny pieces repositioned themselves to once again form the word “Jump”.

“What does that mean?” I yelled at it. A giant tree branch wrapped around me and a low voice whispered in my ear “Whatever you want it to mean.” I screamed and wiggled my way out of its grasp. I began running through the forest, and as I did so I snuck one quick look behind me; there was the tree, standing as trees normally do, basking in the faint evening light. There was nothing odd about it. I ran until I could no longer see it before finally sitting down on a nearby rock to catch my breath. What is happening to me? I thought, tears slowly pooling in the corners of my eyes. I sat there for a moment, sniveling, when suddenly the forest came to life around me. A giant nine foot long snake slithered by, its rough scaly skin glittering as it reflected the descending sun’s rays.

“Jump,” it hissed in a slow, breathy voice. “Jump.”

I stumbled backwards into a tree, where there was a sound similar to that of a mini jackhammer. I looked up and saw a woodpecker, whose disproportionally large head blocked what it was currently drilling into the bark. When he leaned sideways and turned around, his dark eyes gazing questioningly at me, I was able to read the messy letters etched into the trunk behind him; “Jump”. I picked a rock up off the ground and chucked it at him; he gave an angry squawk and flew off over the treetops.

Resting on a branch in a nearby tree was a large owl, his round golden eyes piercing as they bore deep into me.

“Jump,” He cooed. “Jump, jump, jump.” Then with a screech he sprung from his branch and swooped over me, his talons gently grazing the top of my hair. I violently shook my head, trying to wake myself up from whatever nightmare I was in. The trees then unexpectedly came to life around me, swaying their leaf-filled branches grandly from side to side while chanting “Jump, jump, jump.” Birds began pouring in from the canopy, encircling me as they chirped in their high pitched voices “Jump, Jump!”

I couldn’t take it anymore. I ran. I ran away from the demonic trees and the psychotic birds, away from all the chaos unfolding in the forest. I ran to the tree line that bordered the woods, and then to the foot of a large hill that jutted out from the side of the island. I paused there for a moment, panting, but the voices from the forest were still audible at this distance, so I started to run again. I ran and I didn’t stop running though my body ached and my muscles begged me to slow down. I ran all the way to the top, to where the cliff hung out over the water. I walked to the end and peered down, watching the waves crash into tall jagged rocks before receding back into the calm ocean. The wind blew around me, gently at first but then with such great force I almost lost my balance. I teetered on the edge of the cliff for a second until it died down and I was able to retreat a few steps. After a moment or two, the wind returned and as it passed by my ears it sang melodically “Jump, jump” and pushed me harder. I glanced down again at the water and as the waves rolled up they beckoned and called me to them.

“Jump!” they called in a pleasant, inviting tone. As I stood there, my thoughts began drifting to Kayla. I couldn’t help but wish she was here to help me and give me advice on what to do. I looked again at the water, and felt again the wind; and that’s when I understood. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath before bending my knees and leaping off the edge of the cliff, allowing the proceeding wind gust to carry me far out over the rocks. I kept my eyes shut as I fell, bracing myself for impact; but it never came. I waited for what seemed like five minutes before I opened my eyes, and when I did I wasn’t falling but instead standing on the stone walkway leading up to my house. It was warm and sunny out; the yard was flourishing with bright colored flowers and an assortment of butterflies was fluttering through the air. It was what I would consider a beautifully perfect day.

“Daddy, daddy!” a voice cried, and I turned just in time to watch as my son bounced off the porch and ran towards me. My wife had been sitting next to him, and when she saw me she stood up, her hand covering her mouth in shock.

“Damon,” I said, enfolding him in my arms and pulling him tight. “I love you, son.”

“I love you too, daddy” he said, sniffling. I stood up carrying him, and strolled over to where Kayla remained frozen. I tenderly brushed a piece of hair behind her ear and leaned in to give her a kiss.

“You got the message,” she whispered, amazed. I nodded. She began to cry, “I know it was probably wrong of me, but I just couldn’t bear being without you. I wanted you here, with us, before...” Her voice trailed off.

“I understand,” I said, taking her hand. “I promised you I’d stay with you forever, so here I am.” She smiled at me, and I smiled back, and then we both smiled at our son who had fallen asleep on my shoulder. With one last look at my wife, and a quick squeeze of her hand, I guided her up the stairs of the creaky porch to the red wooden door of our home. After taking in one final breath I turned the knob and the door swung open, and I walked with my family through the glowing white light into the next world.

message 16: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie (chasmofbooks) | 2875 comments Polls are up! Go vote!

Poem Poll

Short Story Poll

message 17: by C. J., Cool yet firm like ice (new)

C. J. Scurria (goodreadscomcj_scurria) | 4263 comments Awesome idea for a topic, M!

message 18: by M (new)

M | 11264 comments Thank you, CJ! Way back in the Weekly Topic Suggestions thread, Alex had mentioned “creepy subliminal messaging in Disney.” That’s where I got the idea for it.

message 19: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie (chasmofbooks) | 2875 comments The Results:

1st place: Paul and Ellis
2nd place: Beansoda
3rd place: D.L.
Last: Shara and Kelsie

Thank you for participating this week in whatever way you did, everyone! I offer my congratulations to Paul and Eliis.

message 20: by Guy (new)

Guy (egajd) | 11107 comments I apologize for my late comment. Life's been busy.

D.L. first off, welcome to the WSS! Target Market is a well conceived and clever idea. Sharply told, even as a first draft. I thoroughly enjoyed the role reversal between the living and the ads. It brought a smile to my face, as I thought of how big and busy the 'little' under screen ads have become.

I'm looking forward to reading more of your stories!

Shara, Moments of Joy is an interesting character study. The description and narration brought the setting alive.

Beansoda, also a big welcome to the WSS story competition. Automotive and Transportation is a fun story. I did find that I became confused about how he went from the library to driving a train to the hospital. Re-reading it didn't seem to help.

Last chance at peace by Paul. An interesting take on the multi-time lined story. I enjoyed it, and the very good twist. However, I would have liked to have the resolution come about not because of an undercover cop. That was too deus ex machina for me. Regardless, a fun read.

All Filled Up by Ellis. I laughed. Thank you. Did you watch the series Dead Like Me? Your story reminded me of it, for some reason.

Jump by Kelsie. A very interesting take on the topic, and well written.

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