Thursday Thoughts: On Writing Life

 

Back when I worked full-time in the Banking industry, I used to complain how I never had enough time to write.  I’d get up each weekday morning by 4am to get myself ready first, and then get hubby and son up before hitting the road by 5:45am for over an hour’s drive (in 35 miles) into downtown Raleigh.  I’d work 7am till 6pm (most days).  By the time dinner and homework are done, it’s easily 9pm and by that point, I’m ready to crawl in bed.   Weekends were usually reserved for catch-ups, house chores, and errands.  I’d managed maybe an hour of writing time each week.

Now?

With being “retired’ from the work force (am only 46) due to disabilities, I have loads of free time on my hands.   I’ve discovered, though, I waste a lot of time doing pretty much “nothing.”

Nothing being spending way too much time on social media, and watching internet-stream tv shows and movies.  Well, these were what I was doing for the past year and a half before depression hit me hard.

Or, perhaps mid-life crisis?

I found myself looking back, and wondering what did I have to show for being here on this world?  I really didn’t find a career I enjoyed (long story) so ended up in the Banking industry for the last 15 years of my working life basically as a glorified paper-shuffler.

Family put aside, I had nothing tangible.

I wanted more.  I desired to leave a legacy.

At this point, I’ve published several short stories, essays, and poems; but 99.9% are online magazines.

I now want more.

Something solid, concrete.  Something I can hold in my hands.  And smell.

This means I need to get serious, and smart with my time management.  I figure a way to start doing that is by tracking every word I write.

Daily.

This means less time with social media and other forms of entertainment.

I value my writing gift, and feel I have at least one book within me, enough so that I need to start valuing my time more than I’ve done in the past.

So, this is where I’m at in my writing life.  At a cross-road, and I’ve decided on the path to take.  Now, let’s see where it takes me.

Got to love adventures, eh?  🙂

What about you?  Where are you at in your writing life?  Are you happy with it?  If not, what changes could you make?

 

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A Snowy Reunion (Interactive Story)

*Am starting a new story, an interactive kind, which means feedback from readers will determine the direction of the story.  Read the first chapter, and then answer the poll.  Your input will determine the story’s results! Enjoy 🙂

 

Chapter One

 

Fluffy white flakes drift from the sky on to the urban landscape below.  Mazes of paved and cemented pathways spread across the city like a grid, nearly all are inhabited by flickering white and red lights.  While the heavens fill with solemn hushes, the earth brims with noise and movements among the living and their worldly gadgets and possessions.

On a particular street level, two women walk briskly, huddled deep in their coats and scarves.  White mists emanating from their faces as they huffed.

“I can’t believe you talked me into going out tonight!” The shorter woman says.

“Nonsense, Laura.” replies the other. “You work too much.  Besides, I haven’t seen these guys in years.  I’m curious to see how rich and successful they became.”

“Really, Julie, you’re just too shallow.” Laura scoffs. “There are more to men than sex and money.”

“Don’t forget power.” Julie raises a hand covered in a black leather glove.

“See?”

“You’re one to talk, dearie.”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.” Laura smirks.

“Okay, how about Scott Mendler?” Red ringlets flickering across her cheeks.

“Him? The Pharmacist? Oh, c’mon! He didn’t know right from left!”

“Oh? Let’s try this one…Frank Aleman.”

“Computer repairman.  Too boring.” Laura says.

“Todd Blankenship?”

“Too skinny.”

“Stanley Cougler?”

“Too weird.”

“Nicholas Stem?”

“Kissed like a girl.”

Julie stops suddenly. “And you know this how?”

“Kidding!” Laura grabs her friend’s arm to prod her along once more. “I still don’t see your point.”

“My point is that you’re just as shallow as I am when it comes to men.” Julie says.

“Are you saying we’re hopeless?”

“Nah, just haven’t found the right ones.”

Laura shakes her head. “I’m starting to believe there’s no right one out there.”

“Perhaps we’ve been looking at the wrong ones.”

“Or perhaps I need to shorten my ‘qualities desired in an ideal mate’ list.”  Laura frowns.

Julie suddenly stops.  Again.

“Now what?” Laura asks.

Julie glances behind them. “Been having this feeling that someone’s following me all day.”

“Halloween’s long over.” Laura says.

“Yeah.” The red-head turns back around. “Probably just my imagination.”

“Comes with the territory for being a horror writer.” Laura replies.

“Well, that’s not all I do, honey.” She sneers.

“That’s even creepier.”

“Yeah, whatever, speak for yourself.” Julie pulls at her friend’s arm. “There it is. Let’s run…I’m freezing!”

The two women carefully jog across the icy road hopping from one section of tire-tread pattern on the ground to the next to keep from slipping.   Once they reach the other side, they stood briefly at the wooden door with “Carroll’s Diner” etched in it.

And pushed it opened to enter inside.

************************************

 

Carroll’s Diner’s rustic interior immediately warmed up the women as they peer into the dining section for familiar faces.

“I think I see Brad at the bar.” Julie says as she immediately heads in that direction  with Laura following close behind.

She quietly approaches a dark blonde-haired man and taps him on the shoulder which causes him to stir instantly.

“My god!  Isn’t it jolly ol’ Julie!” His hazel eyes twinkling as he pulls her in to his arms for a bear hug.

“Easy there, Brad.  You might break some ribs.” She giggles into his musky-smelling neck.

“Sorry, my bad.” And moves her to a more steady position, standing in front of him. He then notices a woman besides her. He blinks a few times before speaking. “Laura Hines?”

Laura smiles sheepishly. “Yeah, that’s me.”

Brad cocks his head slightly as he takes turns studying both women. “Friends?”

“Hard to believe, Bubba boy, but yep, we’re good friends now.”  Julie smiles widely.

He shakes his head slowly and let out a low whistle. “I thought you two hated each other during college.”

“Old history.” Julie replies as she winks over at Laura.  “It’s a long story.”

“I’ll drink to that!” He turns and picks up a shot glass and downs it in one gulp.

“Hey! Not so fast!” Julie pouts as she makes herself comfortable on a high stool. “I’ll have what he’s drinking.” She tells the bartender.

“Make that two.” Laura says as she sits on the other side of Julie.

Julie glances around Brad. “I thought there were two of you.”

He nods. “There is.  He had a call but should be back any time.”

“Who’s back?” Comes a husky voice rich in accent.

The women both peer around Brad to see a gorgeous man taking his seat at the end of the counter.   Golden brown skin.  Dark black hair which even partially covers his face, but one could still spy the dimples in his cheeks when he smiles.

This time it would be Laura speaking first.

“Oh. My. God.  Eddie?” Her voice rises several decibel.

“Hello, Laura.” His smile held as his deep hazel eyes meet her blue ones.  “It’s been a long time.”

She shifts in her stool but never moving her gaze away from his face.  “Yes.”

“Hello? Pheromone city!” Julie butts in effectively slicing the momentary connection.  “You two know each other?”

Laura’s smile wavers as she fingers her glass that mysteriously appeared seconds earlier. “College.”

“History?”  Julie whispers close to her ear.

Laura nods once.

“Well, I’m Julie Yourdon.” In her next move she turns to the dark hair man, and gives him her most alluring smile.

“Eduardo Santa Perez.” He bows his head to her. “A pleasure to meet you.”

“Pleasure’s all mine.” Julie mutters under her breath as she sips her liqueur.

 

End of Chapter One

 

 

 

*Note: You can also follow this story over at my other site — Story Interactive  🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Halloween Haunt Story

 

*Note:  This story’s inspired by the very first short story I ever wrote decades ago.

 

 

 

Penny, the new kid on the block, stood in front of an old, rickety house along with two new-found friends.

She swallowed hard as she stepped up to the front door.

“Don’t be a scaredy cat and go in!” Darla called out.

Inside the dank-smelling entryway, cobwebs littered every nook and cranny.  Dark and not a living soul present as the young girl walked down a hallway.

A movement on her right caused Penny to pause.

On the long, narrow table sat a huge glass platter with a steel cover.

The cover rattled ever so slightly.

She slowly reached for the metallic lid, and lifted it.

The first thing she saw was the wrinkled balding head, and in a great start, she released her grasp on the heavy top which landed on the hard floor with a thunderous clang that echoed throughout the building.

Her brown eyes widened as she stared at what sat on the glass dish.

A head of an elderly man who appeared to be asleep.  His skin pallor and sunken except for one eye where folds of flesh drooped.

The sight had her rooted to the spot as she held her breath fearing that any noise would awaken him.

Suddenly, his eyes sprung opened.  Black as coals they completely mesmerized Penny…

Until the mouth opened and an evil cackle bellowed from it.

She turned and ran screaming out of the house, and didn’t stop screaming until she reached her friends down on the curbs.

 

What dismayed her further was that they were laughing.

At her.

“It’s not funny!” She said.

Darla, the brunette, giggled through her hands but it was the blondie who spoke.

“If only you could have seen your face!” Roxie said as she wiped the tears from her eyes.

Penny glared at them.  “You knew about this?”

“Oh yeah.” Darla finally replied. “Old man Marco’s been doing this every year for years.”

The red-head folded her arms at her two so-called friends. “And where does he usually pull this prank?”

“In the kitchen. On the table with the red cloth.” Roxie answered.

“Well, his head was on a platter in the hallway between the kitchen and living room.” Penny stated. “And it did NOT have ANY table cloth.”

Roxie and Darla looked at her.

“Go on.” Penny pointed to the house. “Go check on the old man!”

Clasping each other’s hand, the two girls walked across the front yard, and through the door way disappearing into the murkiness.

Penny continued to stand with her arms folded, and waited.

 

Moments passed before screeching screams sounded through the house, and the pale-faced girls galloped outside, nearly colliding with Penny.

Unmoved, Penny asked, “Well?”

“Th-that wasn’t Marco!” Darla said. “And-and there was no body under the table!”

“But the head is real, right?” Penny asked.

Both girls nodded in earnest.

All pairs of eyes turned to the house just as the front door creaked shut.

 

 

The Tree

 

She'd been locked in the house for months 

as the undead raged outside

 

Famished and dehydrated 

she stared out the bedroom window 

and spied the pair again

 

For days, these cats roamed out 

on the limbs of the enormous hardwood tree 

as she wondered how they're surviving the apocalypse

 

Today, she decided to find out and proceeded

to climb out the second floor slim windowpane 

 

As she dangled on the limb, she glanced below

 

There her momma stood, gaping up to her daughter 

mouth opened and gnawing as if ravenous with 

flesh-thirsting hunger

 

She scrambled up on the branch 

and glanced towards the tree's core

 

A small hollowed hole revealed the bloody mass of flesh and bone 

and it was then she realized what a grave mistake she'd made

 

Dark Places #WEPFF: Black Heart

 

Today, I’m participating in the above contest/bloghop for WEP (aka Write…Edit…Publish).

 

Black Heart

 

Real love I’m undeserving of 

as torment and abuse 

are all I’m able to offer 

 

 

Such a sweet angelic soul 

he was 

I allowed fear and envy 

to rule 

 

 

Now standing at his final  

resting place 

pain, regret, tears fill my core  

 

 

Darkness now my only 

companion 

life ever fleeting 

death 

can’t come soon enough 

for this black-hearted bitch

Story Sunday: Shadow of Death

 

I once lived in an old house

haunted by a formless shadow

 

Mom died as she gave birth to Tye

my two-year old babbling brother

 

I don’t blame anyone for her death

but I do of that depth-less darkness

that devoured Daddy

Story Sunday: The Bench

 

He stood

before the bench where he last saw her

Shadows from nearby trees nearly engulfing it

as the sun lowered in the smoke-glazed sky

She had on her gray pantsuit with a silky blouse

its’ color matched her sea-blue eyes

He set the ash-covered helmet on the wood

and as if pressed down with a heavy weight, he dropped

to one knee and bowed his head, tears trickling down his grime-stained face

Fires he could fight, but not the monstrosity he witnessed on that fateful day

One by one, his brothers fell as with the towers

Did she too?

Perhaps she’ll suddenly appear like an angel he knew her to be-

or, was she lost somewhere in the rubbles of mangled steel and crushed cement?

Time’s no man’s friend

For he was a fool to think he had plenty

and now she’s gone

 

*I created a video for this story.  It can be accessed here: The Bench

 

Story Sunday: Fire and Ash

 

 

As she stood in the entryway

staring at the black mass in the fiery sky

she wondered

what good did technology do for them

now on the brink of extinction?

Gusts of heated air whipped around her body

as the only thoughts of comfort

were of all the written journals

she’d buried in the deep caverns nearby

in the hope that those pieces of her would survive

while the rest be reduced to nothing

but hot ashes

YouTube Tuesday: I Heard It Too

 

This morning I perused through my Twitter feed and saw a blog on Martians Attack in regards to “YouTube Tuesday” that I figured I’ll take part and see where it takes me.  🙂

I’ve recently got into watching short films, and this particular one is an awesome Horror flick that’s not for the faint-hearted.  The film by Matt Sears is about 8 minutes long, and is based on a two-sentence story:

A girl heard her mom yell her name from downstairs, so she got up and started to head down. As she got to the stairs, her mom pulled her into her room and said “I heard that, too.”

Drrd777

Watch it (if you dare) and let me know what you think.

If you’d like to participate in YouTube Tuesday, for this week, post a short film (from YouTube) that you enjoyed and tell us a bit about it.  Don’t forget to include the link to this post in yours so I can check it out.  Also, if you’re on Twitter, post a Tweet about your post using the hashtag #YouTubeTuesday.

Have fun!

Story Sunday: Journal of Life

 

January 15th

Where to begin? Because of so and so, and of something that happened, I’m to start keeping a journal of my thoughts and feelings and whatever else I care to share. WTH.

Okay, let’s start from the beginning. My name is Carla Jones. I’m twenty-five, and I live with my parents. Eh, that sounds like an opener for one of those Alcoholics Anonymous sessions. I’m not an alcoholic, but I am a screw-up.

Damn. That sounds pretty harsh now that it’s out there. But this is what my shrink wants to read, so there you go.

I lived a fairly normal life, I guess. Grew up in a small town in the mountains. Mom was a telephone operator for many years before switching to being an administrative assistance at a local community college. Dad’s a salesperson at a hardware store.  I have two sisters. Trish, the eldest, moved out of the house when she was eighteen. She joined the Navy. I hardly ever see her. Mandy, the baby, is off to college, studying power engineering. She’s the brains, like Dad.

Me? I’m the oddball. The one with all the problems.

Heck, I’m not even related to these people. Not by blood anyway. You see, my parents tried to have another baby after Trish was born, but nothing happened after four years.  So, they adopted me. Mandy came along as a complete surprise three years later. That left me, a brunette with blue eyes, sandwiched between these blonde-haired, brown-eyed individuals. Yep, like an oddball.

We lived next to Mom’s parents (Dad’s parents died when he was a boy).  Nana and Papa to Trish and Mandy, but not to me. They made that well known as soon as I was old enough to understand. I was to call them Pat and Dave.

Ugh.

Trish and Mandy were always into sports. I tried, but I was deemed too klutzy to play on any team. So, I turned to running. I never competed, though. All that hardcore training and competing in meets or races never interested me.

I never excelled in anything in school. It’s not for the lack of trying…it’s just that I really didn’t care. I studied just enough to pass the exams. That’s it. Mom and Dad never really pushed me. They pretty much let me do my own thing. They rode the other two daily, though. They accepted nothing less than As or Bs from them.

When it came time to head off to college, I had no clue what to major in. I wasn’t interested in science or math or business. I ended up picking a major in Communications with a minor in Creative Writing. I had always doodled with poetry and wrote in my journal, so why not take them one step further, right? Boy, my Dad was not happy with that. I asked, what’s wrong with being a writer or a journalist?   He said that those weren’t respectable fields. So, in order to appease him, I switched to a major in Kinesiology with a minor in Athletic Training.

I got as far as sophomore year before dropping out. I sucked in science classes and ended up failing them.

I refused to move back home—didn’t want to endure the daily scorn from Pat and Dave or the disappointed looks from my parents. Instead, I moved to a small city an hour from home and got a job working as a writer for the city’s newspaper. I rented a tiny, run-down apartment downtown that robbed me of over half of my monthly salary. I had no furniture, slept on an air mattress, and ate meals on the grungy carpet.

I guess I got too carried away with my sudden independence, or perhaps I was just overly desperate to be accepted for who I was. The people I ended up hanging out with liked to smoke pot. Personally, I hated pot, but these people made me feel like I was a somebody, like I actually mattered, so I just went with it.

Anyway, I ended up getting caught with some weed and was sent to jail. Lost my job and my apartment. Dad bailed me out and took me back home. Not sure what he did, but he somehow got the charges against me reduced so that there was no court or jail time for me. However, the judge ordered me to see this shrink, and since I liked to write, this same shrink gave me this ridiculous journal assignment.

 

 

January 29th

I’m writing this from my hospital bed. Actually, I’m in a psych ward within the hospital. The day after I wrote the first entry to this journaling assignment, Dad and I got into a big fight. Apparently, I’m a hardship to him and Mom, and it’s starting to affect their health and job stability. I guess I just lost it. I yelled at him saying something like, well, if I’m such a hardship, perhaps I should just remove myself from their lives.

I ran into the only bathroom in the house and locked myself in. I grabbed a shaving razor and proceeded to slash the top of my hands. Freaking out, Mom called 911. From there on, everything’s just a blur. I remember waking up in a hospital room, strapped to the bed. My whole body felt bruised. Mom was sitting beside me, crying.  Dad, well, I haven’t seen him since that night. She said that it took three people tackling me to stop me from continuing to slice my wrists. I don’t remember that part, but she was right, both of my wrists are bandaged up. The top of my hands are also bandaged, so I can barely write this stupid entry.

This stupid assignment. Stupid shrink. I hate him. I hate them all.

 

 

February 3rd

I’m still here, in the psych ward. It seems that I’m not ready to be released yet. Or rather, my parents aren’t ready to take me back home. Either way, I don’t give a rip.

 

February 7th

Mandy visited me yesterday. She said she was worried about me. She then turned around and told me how angry she was with me. How could I be so selfish to have hurt Mom and Dad. I told her to get out of my face. I don’t need this from her or from anyone for that matter!

 

 

February 12th

Why is everyone against me? What have I done so wrong to be treated so? Pat stopped by for a few minutes. Long enough to tell me that my own parents were seriously considering having me permanently committed. She went on to tell me that she did some research on my biological parents. My mother gave birth to me at the age of 13. She had been raped by her 16-year-old cousin who then committed suicide shortly afterward. Pat said that I should never have been adopted and that I’ve been nothing but a heartache to Mom and Dad.

After she left, I just lied down on the bed and cried.

 

 

February 15th

The shrink told me that I was actually starting to make progress and that I should continue to journal. Whatever.

Today, I wrote my first poem in months. It’s called “Alone.”

Heart is the bridge to

one’s soul, break it in

pieces and it will

strand you, immerse you

with unspeakable loneliness

You know what? After writing this, I felt better. Purged. Does that make any sense? I’m looking back over it, and am wondering…where did this come from? Am I really that pathetic? Do I really feel that way?

The answer is yes.

 

 

March 2nd

It’s been a while since the last entry. I have a good reason. Well, make that twenty-five reasons, as that’s how many poems I’ve written. I’m somewhat amazed at how dark and desperate some sounded. I thought about rewriting a few so they don’t make me out to be some kind of psychotic bitch, but I didn’t.

I worked up the courage and gave some to the shrink to read. I felt certain that he would definitely have me permanently committed after reading those particular ones (that would just please the family wouldn’t it?). I was stunned when he said that they were really good. Then he had to ask if I had thought about submitting them to places to have them published.

Seriously?

Hmm…

 

 

March 27th

I’ve been released from the hospital/psych ward. Since I’m no longer welcome home, I’m now living in a halfway house of sorts. I’m working part-time as a dishwasher at a college. It’s nothing glamorous, just a no-brainer, tedious job. I did something last week that scared the crap out of me, though. I submitted a few of my poems to four literary journals. Shrink seems confident that one of these places will publish my work. I have serious doubts. I mean, who would want to read my stuff? They’re just stupid poems. Nothing special about them at all.

 

 

April 30th

I’m in disbelief. I received word yesterday that my poems have been accepted by Julienne Literary Journal to be published. Oh. My. God.

I think I may have even hyperventilated because I found myself on the floor breathing hysterically with a bag over my face. All those poor people at the post office. God bless them for not freaking out on me.

 

 

May 16th

Good news keeps rolling in. Apparently, Dad has been working with a judge to try and get my criminal/drug/psych ward incarceration expunged from my record since it was my first offense, and guess what? As of this morning, I’m a free woman with a clean record! I’ve a feeling that my shrink may have had a hand in this even though he vehemently denied it. I know better.

This will be my last entry for the journaling assignment—the psych sessions are ending. As I read through the earlier entries, I hadn’t realized just how full of anger I was, and rightfully so, but I’ve learned that I no longer need to be. There is so much more to life than holding on to the feeling of anger because people refused to accept me as I am. No more. I want to live my own life the way I feel is best for me. I no longer need to rely on others to help me feel worthy. I can do that for myself. Writing poems and journaling have shown me that. They became the keys to unlocking my true soul.

*First published with GFT Press March 2016

Writing: Who’s Your Character? (Poll)

Be sure to vote, and follow this particular discussion as there will be more in the near future about the topic!

 

Story Sunday: The Hunt

Milky Way Over Two Inlets Lake, Minnesota

Milky Way Over Two Inlets Lake, Minnesota

 

It came from space in a fiery cluster of molten steel, shattering the solitude that covered the blue water below as it plunged deep into the cold darkness. There it would lie dormant, to be stirred by life that flourished both in the water and above.

 

The sun was a hazy object in the sky as dense mist hovered over the gray water of Lake Champlain. The cries of the sea gulls overhead were the only sounds heard other than the low droning noise of the 21-foot boat’s engine as the water splashed up against the hull of the Coast Guard’s navigational vessel. Anna Mae Hart leaned her petite body against the railing as her short brunette hair flapped in the brisk breeze. Her green eyes studied the dark dot of an island ahead that could barely be seen within the wall of white haze. She reached into her jacket’s pocket and pulled out a stick of gum and placed it onto her tongue.

Chewing heartily, she studied the sky for a moment. The sun was already a crimson color in the early morning hour which signaled another hot day in the North Country. As a native from Georgia she welcomed the steamy days while the locals moaned and fretted. She liked it here even with the cold, hard winters that plundered the northern state for well over seven months at a time; it was the quietness and the slowness of life that enticed her to stay.

For most of her thirty-four years of life, she had known nothing but instability and chaos; she came from a dysfunctional family, and as soon as she graduated from high school she joined the Navy and spent the next nine years traveling the world, and was trained in skills and knowledge shrouded with secrets never to be revealed to the common people. By the time she turned thirty Anna wanted a normal life. It was during her visit to upstate New York where she met Darren LaMonde and his family. After a short time, he offered her a position with Division 15 for the 1st District Coast Guard as a Patrol Specialist. She accepted it without hesitation, and never looked back.

“Looks like it’ll be another scorcher.” Darren was saying as he stood behind the wheel in the center of the boat. His dark mass of hair flew in every direction in the wind. He was handsome even at the age of fifty-six with no signs of gray or wrinkle. His hazel eyes were dark as they studied the lifting mist.

“You call this a heat wave? Oh, pl-lease.” Anna smirked as she continued to stare out across the lake to the island ahead.

“I don’t get how you like this humidity. It just saps all the energy right out of me.” Darren throttled the engine down as they quickly approached tiny Green Island, one of the 70 plus islands of the lake.

“Sweetheart, you just weren’t raised right.” Anna drawled in her thick southern accent and then chuckled as she leaned further into the railing as the boat gave a gentle lurch forward when Darren put the engine into reverse. They slowly drifted up to the wooden dock where there was also another boat for the Plattsburgh City Police Department.

This was the one part she disliked about her job; having to deal with dead bodies from time to time. Darren had called her around 4am to relay that a body has been reported and the police had asked for their assistance in the investigation.

As soon as the boat was aligned against the short dock, Anna jumped out and anchored the boat. Quietly they walked off the dock and down a graveled pathway towards a small cabin that was nestled in the trees. Suddenly, Anna stopped.

“What is it?” Darren asked in a whisper.

“I’m not sure.” Anna strained to see through the fog. “I thought I heard something.”

They continued until they reached the rustic cabin where they were met by two individuals dressed in dark clothes. The tall, stocky black man was the first to speak as he held out his hand. “I’m Lt. Jean Picaur, and this is Dr. Madeline D’Louverne, a member of the crime scene unit.”

The older woman was taller and thinner than Anna. She took Anna’s hand. “We’re glad you both could come out so quickly.”

“We came as soon as we heard.” Darren said. “What do we have?”

Picaur and the doctor exchanged a look as they stepped aside.

“You better come inside.” Picaur spoke as he opened the door and led them into the building.

It was a two-bedroom cabin with a large living area in the center. The small kitchen was on one side, and the bedrooms on the other side. As Anna studied the largest room she could see stark evidence of struggle everywhere. The back door’s window was smashed. The couch in the living room was overturned. There were dried blood and mud splattered on the walls and floor. The kitchen looked as if it was hit by a hurricane with utensils and dishpans scattered all over the floor and countertops.

Anna then saw a distinct trail of blood that ran from the kitchen floor over the carpet of the living room and into the den where it ended at the desk. She walked over and stood over the desk that held an older computer model; there was blood splattered over the monitor and across the keyboard, and a single bloodied handprint near the mouse pad with no mouse. The computer had been turned on. Anna assumed that it was being checked for evidence.

“Jesus H. Christ!” Darren exclaimed as he glanced at the shocking sight spread before him.

“This isn’t your ordinary homicide.” Anna spoke as she looked directly at Picaur.

The officer met her gaze and slowly shook his head. “No.”

“And we were called here why?”

“To help us sort through evidence.”

“O-okay.”

Darren turned to the Lieutenant and asked. “How many were staying in this cabin?”

Picaur pulled out his Blackberry and glanced at the little green monitor and answered. “There were two couples staying here for the weekend. They were from New York City. University students.”

Anna took a step forward. “How many bodies were found?”

“Only one.”

Darren looked over at Anna before turning to Picaur. “Then what happened to the others?”

“At this point we’re assuming they’re also dead, but without any bodies we can’t be certain.”

Dr. D’Louverne replied with an even tone. “We do have some evidence that seems to point the time of death around 11pm Saturday. The body that was found was one of the women who we think was the last survivor to die.”

“Not a domestic homicide then?” Darren questioned.

“No. These kids were not killed in a conventional sense.”

“Dr. D’Louverne seems to think they were killed by something … not human.”

Anna’s eyes widened slightly as she turned to the older woman. “Animal?”

“I can’t make a determination at this point. We were hoping you would be able to offer any insight.”

Anna turned and studied the officer intently, without replying.

“I’ve seen your record, Ms. Hart. You have a background in Marine Biology and various classified military experimentations.” Picaur stated.

Darren shook his head. “You’re saying that some marine creature came out of the water and killed four people in a matter of days?”

“In a matter of hours actually.” Dr.D’Louverne corrected. “I’m saying we’re not sure at the moment.”

Anna looked around the cabin once more. “Okay. Show me what you got.”

Dr. D’Louverne sat down at the computer and brought up a blog site on the internet.

“The deceased, Shelli Watson, blogged on this site regularly. She recorded their last hours.”

The doctor, with gloves on hands, worked on the keyboard until she leaned back. “You can start here.”

Dr. D’Louverne then stood up, stepped aside as Anna took the chair. She accepted a pair of latex gloves from Darren and pulled them on over her hands. She then read one of the postings.

“July 7th, Friday, 7:45pm. Whew! We finally made it after driving for God forever long, all 7 hours of it! We spent another 2 hours at a lakeside boating store trying to find a boat we could afford to rent. Lisa and Mark are making dinner, spaghetti I think; and Dru, not sure where he took off to, probably out exploring the island. I can’t believe we’re actually spending an entire weekend on a tiny little island in the middle of a lake, not an ocean, but a fresh water lake! Dru and Mark have been dead set on going out on the lake to fish, and hopefully also catch a glimpse of the local legend monster, Champ. Lisa and I keep telling them that those were only stories to lure tourists to the area, but boys will be boys. While they are doing that, we’ll be out on the beach sunning ourselves. Well, I’m being paged …”

Anna, using the keyboard, advanced to the next posting.

“July 8th, Saturday, 8am. The guys are off on the lake, fishing and looking for Champ. I keep telling Dru, in vain I know, that he wasn’t going to find anything. Oh well. Lisa and I are now off to relax for the morning.”

“Sounds like typical 20-something kids to me.” Darren commented.

“Yeah.” Anna replied with a nod. “Next post.”

“July 8th, Saturday, 12:35pm. The guys came back all excited. Dru claimed he got a picture of Champ. Lisa and I didn’t believe them, not until they showed us the picture. It doesn’t look quite like the pictures I’ve seen online of Champ, but it is definitely something. I’ve included the link here in case anyone was curious to take a look. Feel free to comment on what you think of it.”

Anna tabbed until the link was highlighted and hit the enter key. A picture filled the screen. Darren leaned over Anna’s shoulder and they both studied the picture. It was slightly blurry but there was a definite dark form rising partially above the surface of the water; the boat filled the bottom of the picture as one of the men had taken the photo looking across the lake towards the mainland. Anna studied this form. The sun was directly overhead, casting shadows on this figure, which obscured any clear view.

“What do you think?” Darren asked.

Anna shook her head slightly. “Not sure. Shelli was right. This doesn’t fit what we know about Champ. This doesn’t look like any amphibious being I’ve seen before. This here looks like a head.” She ran a finger along the profile of the form. “Champ is much more rounded. This looks like an arm, and a hand, or more like claws …” Anna leaned closer to the monitor. “To me it looks as if this creature was swimming towards their boat.”

“And perhaps followed them back here to the cabin.” Darren said blandly.

Anna exited out of the picture and continued to read.

“July 8th, 2pm. A strange thing has happened. Our boat’s gone. Mark swore he tied it to the dock. Now we’re stranded. Grr! None of our cells seem to be working now. Odd. We have no choice now but to wait until someone shows up to get off this island.”

Picaur then spoke up. “When we arrived there was no sign of their boat.”

Anna gave a quick nod and read on.

“July 8th, 6pm. I’m freaking out. Dru’s gone. Lisa’s hurt bad. There’s something out there trying to get in. I want to go home now. I’m so scared.”

“Someone that was wounded had been on the couch.” Dr. O’Louvern pointed to the torn, upturned furniture. “I found dried human blood.”

“There were also tracks around the cabin. They are unlike any animal prints I have ever seen.” Picaur added.

“Let’s see what happened next.

July 8th, 8:30pm. There’s still no sign of Dru. I can still hear him screaming in my head. He had gone into the woods to find Lisa while Mark stayed with me. Then I heard Dru screaming, and Lisa came running back a few moments later. She was covered in blood. And her right arm was completely gone! My god. What is happening here?”

Anna leaned back in the chair, rubbed both hands on the back of her neck. “This creature’s intelligent. It stalked them, watched and studied them. Waited. Dru was the first to die. Lisa was allowed to get away. Kind of like a cat and mouse game.”

“Like a predator hunting its prey.” Picaur muttered. “Would this be anything the military’s responsible for?”

Anna glanced over at the big man and eyed him momentarily before she answered. “No, this creature was not created by the military, or by any other country that I know of.”

She turned and focused on the monitor for a moment. “Nor is this any marine specie I have ever encountered before. This is either specie we’ve never seen before now or …”

Anna looked up at Darren as he asked. “Think this has anything to with the meteor shower we had several months ago?”

She shrugged her shoulders. “I’m not sure. Perhaps.”

Picaur took a step closer. “What are you suggesting?

Anna nodded. “I still have some connections in the military and I inquired about this meteor shower we had here a few months ago. I was told that an unidentified object exploded just above the earth’s atmosphere. Pieces of it rained down and landed in this lake. Nothing was ever recovered. Not too long afterwards people began reporting strange sightings of a creature that wasn’t Champ. Fish and other water life became scarce.”

She paused to glance over at the closest window before she met Picaur’s dark brown eyes. “The point is that this creature didn’t appear until after the so-called meteor shower, and as far as I know it never killed … until now.”

“Perhaps the guys did something to provoke it.” Darren suggested.

“That is a possibility. Okay, the final posting.

July 8th, 10:40pm. I can hear it scraping around outside. It’s growling. Mark is standing watch by the back door. God, I don’t want to die. Please, anyone who’s reading this send help. Please! “

They were quiet for several moments before Anna stood up and peered over at the back door where the window was shattered.

“It came through the window.” Anna began. “Killed Mark on the spot. It then came after Shelli. Shelli fought and died hard. Then it killed Lisa, or perhaps she was already dead.”

“How would it have gotten out?” Picaur asked.

Anna walked over to the back door and studied it for a moment. “It simply just opened the door and walked out.” To demonstrate she turned the door knob and the door slowly swung open on its own. She then stepped out and onto a small deck. “Doc, shine your laser light over here.”

Dr. O’Louvern did just that. “Blood. It goes down the steps and into the woods.”

“This is where we go as well.” Picaur said.

When Picaur and Darren started down the steps Anna reached out and touched Darren’s arm. “Wait. The sun’s gone. Looks like a storm is coming.”

Darren peered up at the sky and sure enough, the sky was now covered with dark clouds. The wind, now cooler, had picked up in intensity. He looked over at Anna. “You’re thinking it’s still out there?”

Anna’s eyes were focused on the moving shadows of the trees as the wind whipped through them. “Yes.”

Everyone stood still for several moments as they listened to the howling of the wind and the rain started to splatter on and around them in big drops. Just then, Picaur gave a shout as he stomped to the other side of the deck.

“God damn it all! The boats are gone!” He bellowed.

Darren moved besides him. “Both of them?”

The women came to look as well and saw that both vessels had simply vanished.

“We should get inside.” Darren muttered.

They quietly went back inside the cabin with Picaur being the last one in as he shut the door behind him. He ran his fingers through his wet hair and said almost in a whisper. “So, now we’re the hunted.”

“It appears that way.” Anna replied. “We need to be ready. The doors need to be secured.”

Darren gave a nod as they worked together to drag the ragged couch over and leaned it against the back door. The other door they barricaded with the heavy oak coffee table.

Picaur took a step back to study what they had done. “These probably won’t hold it back for very long.”

“No.” Anna answered as she checked her weapon to be sure it was fully loaded. “But it should buy us enough time to respond.”

They all suddenly froze when they heard large branches outside cracking and snapping.

“The winds have died down some.” Darren whispered.

“The creature?” the doctor asked in a shaky voice.

For the next several moments, they stood completely still as they waited. The silence in the cabin was eerie. Anna held her breath as she strained to listen for any sound from the approaching creature. She heard nothing until suddenly, a loud bang slammed against the back door as the couch literally shot across the room, smashing into both Darren and Dr. D’Louverne as they flew across the living room floor.

Before either Picaur or Anna could react, the officer yelled out as a claw-like hand reached inside and grabbed one of his feet and pulled him effortlessly outside into the rainstorm and fog. It happened so fast the creature and Picaur were nothing but a blur to Anna.

Next thing she knew, she stood alone.

* * *

The wind had died down as the fog settled heavily over the island. Rain came down in large droplets. As she stood in the doorway, Anna stared out in disbelief. The fog was so thick she couldn’t see beyond the deck. As she looked back into the cabin, she saw both Darren and Dr. D’Louverne lying on the floor, still breathing. They were alive. For now. She listened for sounds but could not hear anything above the pouring rain. It would make no sense to go out into the storm, blind and practically deaf. It would be suicide, not to mention foolish. Picaur was most likely dead. Her responsibility now was to the injured inside.

Anna stepped inside and went to close the door but saw that the hinges were damaged, so she left it partially ajar. She needed to get them off this island; however, she had a feeling this creature didn’t intend to let any of them leave alive. This left her with only one choice. She must find a way to kill it.

* * *

Darren moaned as he tried to sit up, but Anna, as she knelt beside him, pressed him back down. “Easy there, cowboy.” She spoke gently. “You have a head injury and I don’t want you moving too quickly right now.”

He met her eyes that held no emotion. “Picaur?”

She shook her head. “I don’t know. He’s gone now. The doc is fine. She’s over there sitting up with a broken arm.”

He turned his head gingerly to see Dr. D’Louverne sitting on the floor, with her back against the kitchen’s counter. “Did you see how fast it moved?”

“I did. I saw a glimpse of it too. It’s bigger than I thought, about seven feet tall.”

“It was standing?”

“Yeah, like a human, yet it’s not human. I’m not sure what it is.”

“So, now what, partner?”

Anna was finished with his head bandage as she stood up. “You and the doc are going to try and get a message to the mainland to send help. We still have power, for now.”

“Done.” Darren slowly sat up and leaned against the wall. “What about you?”

Anna avoided his eyes as she looked away, “I’m going hunting.”

“Bullshit!” Darren attempted to stand up, but intense dizziness threatened to overwhelm him so he sat back down. “Anna, I’m not letting you go out there alone against that thing.”

This time she met his panicked gaze as she laid a hand on his shoulder. “You are in no condition to help. I need to buy you two time to get help out here.”

He shook his head. ” No talking you out of it, is there?”

“Afraid not.”

“Help me up. Shit.”

As she placed her hands under his arms Anna helped Darren up to his feet. As he stood he leaned against the wall until the dizzy spell passed and he was steady. “You come back, ya hear? Or else the chief will have my sorry ass.”

Anna smiled at her partner and friend. “I come back in one piece and you owe me an extra week’s vacation.”

“Deal.”

* * *

With the loaded gun in hand, Anna stepped down off the deck. The rain had stopped, but the fog remained dense. She slowly made her way towards the woods where her instincts told her she would find the creature. It was mid-day, but with the thick mist that hung over everything it felt like dusk. The woods ahead of her were dark and full of shadows. She swallowed hard, and knew that any of the shadows could be the creature. As she moved into the trees she felt pressed by the overwhelming sound of silence where even her shallow breaths sounded too loud.

Anna glanced at the fir needle-riddled ground; she could barely make out the path. Then something shiny caught her attention as she bent down to inspect. It was Picaur’s badge. Picking it up she turned it over a few times in her hand, and fought back the hot tears that threatened to spill from her eyes. She slipped the badge into her pants pocket and continued onward. She was on the right path. It was only a matter of time now.

The narrow path led her up a steep incline and deeper into the fog. She could barely see inches in front of her. Then, somewhere behind her, she heard branches and dried fir on the ground crackling and snapping. For an instance, Anna froze as her heart pounded in her chest and she could hear the blood roaring in her ears. It was coming directly behind her. She must act now or die, like a coward.

She was no coward.

When she heard the low growl, Anna swung around, dropped down to her knees, aimed and fired into the fog. The bullet found its mark as she heard the creature screeched, and then came loud crashing sounds, and then silence.

A voice. She heard a voice. It sounded like Picaur! Cautiously, Anna stood back up and jogged towards the source of the sound. As she looked down the hill, she spotted a figure on the ground.

Anna quickly ran down the fir covered path to the figure of Jean Picaur as he sat on the ground, leaned back against a dead tree stump. He had an open gash in his left thigh, but he was alive.

“By the devil, Anna, it’s you!”

“Yes, sir.” Anna answered with a smile as she knelt down beside him.

He placed a bloodied hand on her arm closest to him. “I thought I was a goner.”

“Don’t thank me yet, lieutenant.” Her eyes scanned around them. “I only wounded it, and I’m sure it’s really pissed now.”

He gave a solemn nod. “Gotcha.”

With her free hand, Anna pulled the man up to his feet as he leaned heavily against her.

“Alright there?” She eyed him closely.

“Just feeling woozy.”

“It’s from the blood loss.”

One step at a time they slowly made their way back up the hill and down the other side towards the cabin. Overhead the sun was now visible as the fog began to retreat.

“Thank goodness the sun will be out soon.”

“Not soon enough.” Anna barely whispered as they came to a sudden stop. She focused ahead. They were close to the cabin now as she could barely make out its outline beyond the tree lines. To their left was Lake Champlain. Just ahead on the path, she saw the dark shadow of the creature as it stood between them and the cabin.

Anna couldn’t quite make out the body other than it was tall and lean, but she saw the eyes. It was like tiger’s eyes, red and black. Its face was human like but scaly and greenish like a reptile that held no nose, only two slits. The mouth was as wide as the width of its head, and as it seemingly grinned at them the mouth spread open to reveal razor sharp teeth of a carnivore. The growl that escaped from its body sounded so deep and low it resonated through her body from the feet up to her head.

She’d known fear and death, and had faced predators, but nothing like this. All she wanted to do was curl up on the ground and whimper.

“Holy mother of God!” Picaur exclaimed in a hoarse voice.

“Don’t move.”

They both stood, unmoving, as did the creature.

“What is it waiting for?” the officer breathed in a whisper.

“For us to make the first move.”

“Jesus, we’re dead.”

As she kept her eyes on the shadowy form ahead, Anna tightened her grip on the gun.

“Do you still have your gun?”

“No, I dropped it by the deck after it grabbed me. I-er-can see it from here, on the ground.”

“Still loaded?”

“Yeah.”

“When I count to three, I’m going to give you my gun. You keep it busy long enough for me to get to your gun, and we’ll blast it to hell.”

“Beats just standing here.”

“One-two-THREE!!!”

In one movement, Anna placed the gun in Picaur’s waiting hand and dashed to the right. The officer instantly began firing as she ran as fast as her legs would go. She could hear the creature hissing and growling somewhere nearby. She didn’t know exactly where it was anymore. Her focus now was the gun on the ground, as she bounded forward, dodged low branches and leapt over rocks and fallen trees.

The deck was now only a few feet away, but so was the roar of the creature. Anna took a deep breath and jumped high up into the air and flew for the gun that lay on the hard, bare ground. As she landed on her side, she felt the air whooshed right out of her lungs with a loud thud. She wrapped her hand around the gun, rolled over onto her back just in time to see a flash of white teeth, and fired. Then there was nothing.

* * *

Her head roared and spun as she slowly became aware that her body was on the cool, wet ground. She opened her eyes to see both Darren and Picaur standing over her; both wore wide grins on their faces.

“Damn, girl! You gave us a scare!” Darren cried.

Anna tasted blood as she carefully stood up onto her feet. Her eyes scanned around her.

“Where is it?”

Picaur sat down on the steps of the deck as he spoke. “You shot it point blank in its face. I don’t know how the hell you got the shot off; it was practically on top of you.”

“So, I shot it. Where did it go?” Anna asked again.

Picaur looked over towards the lake. “It crawled into the water. It was wheezing and bleeding. Then it was gone.”

Anna, steadier now, walked to the edge of the shore. She could see its blood on the rocks and sand. It was a black-red color, and lots of it.

Darren and the hobbling Picaur came and stood on each side of Anna as they studied the water. Everything was still. Calm. The fog was completely gone and the sun shone brightly.

(Published in Piker Press August 24th, 2009)

The Journey of Rediscovering a Lost Story

Click on the image to access this group's official page

Click on the image to access this group’s official page

 

March IWSG Day Question: Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it? Did it work out?

Over the years, I’ve written several stories (both short and book-length), and for various reasons, I set them to one side never to go back to them.

Time passes…

Voices of one of those abandoned projects begin to cry out to me…

Please tell my story.

Complete me so I can rest in peace.

Finish what you’ve started so that the world may know what happened.

Someone somewhere need to hear this.

Come back to me.

Eventually, I give in.

I have to.

These voices give me no choice; just an ultimatum.

Write, or completely lose my mind.

Or, my soul.

Both are bad in my opinion.

The challenges?

Choosing which one to pick up and continue.

And…

How should this particular story end?

Especially since I may not have set eyes on it for a number of years.  I find that I have to get to know the character(s) all over again (which isn’t necessarily a terrible thing).  I enjoy rediscoveries.  Sometimes I look at a story and ask myself-what was I thinking of when I wrote this?  Was I possibly possessed????

Nah, someone else wrote this one.  Couldn’t be me.

Then slowly, the memories return as well as the excitement.

I pick up the pen, and begin once more.

*To answer the question above…I am currently working on an old story with the hope of one day finding a “home” for it.

Story Saturday: Jewel

black hooded figure

 

She hurt all over. Inside and out.

She wore no shoes against the jagged rocks on the trail, and no jacket against the skin-biting cold of the late autumn air. She had run away so quickly there was no time to grab anything.

The pain in her chest throbbed as she tried to ignore it. She hated feeling this way. It was a nagging reminder of all she had lost.

She stumbled on as she kept her back to the destruction that lay behind. Black smokes rose to the sky as the putrid smell of burnt flesh permeated her nostrils. Bile burned in her stomach as she covered her cracked lips with a dirt-streaked hand.

Images and thoughts tried to force themselves into her mind, but she shook them away. No, she couldn’t face them now. They would break her into a million of pieces, pieces that she could never put back together.

A snarled tree root suddenly snagged a foot as she tripped and fell to her knees with a whimper. The impacted skin burned, and something warm trickled down that foot.

She brushed the once golden-brown-now-mud-caked hair away from her pale face, and stared down at herself. The left pant-leg now torn which exposed her ankle completely. There was a gash on the top of her foot where blood oozed from. As she sat on the icy, hard ground, she debated with herself on whether she should bother to continue. With an injured foot, she’d either be an easy prey, or die from an infection.

Stifling back the urge to scream, she pounded the earth with both fists. Hot tears blinded her as her teeth ground together.

Life was so unfair! What had she done to deserve such a cruel fate? What?!

The snapping of nearby branches startled her as she sat up and peered ahead. All she saw was a thick canopy of dark hardwood trees. A moment later though there were several shadows moving within them.

The predators have found their prey.

“N-no!” She rolled over on her knees and stood up. She then scanned around but realized that it was too late to run. She reached down and grabbed a sharp-edged rock.

And waited.

Ignoring the burning pain, she faced the wavering shadows as they neared. Her nails dug into the rock as she fought to steady her panting.

Would death come quickly for her? Or would they take their time as they tortured her?

She tried to swallow but discovered that her mouth had become parched as she licked her chapped lips, and tasted blood.

The awning of the trees closed in as roaring filled her head. With her other hand, she pressed against her temple.

She couldn’t pass out now!

The sound of a horse’s neigh roused her back to full consciousness as she turned towards the source, and sucked in her breath.

The high stature of the animal clopped towards her. Its brown coat shiny with sweat and rain water. A figure sat on it, draped in a long, black coat. Her eyes moved up the muddied black boots, black pants, and finally to the face which stayed hidden behind the hood.

“State your name.” A deep male voice spoke.

Her body began to tremble, but she forced herself to stand tall and steady. “I’m called Traviata.” Her words barely came out in a hoarse whisper. Her hand gripped the rock tighter.

The hooded figure turned its head towards the smoke-laden sky above her. “State your crime.”

“Crime?” Vivid memories of her past life filled her mind. “The only crime I’ve committed is by being born!” She couldn’t hold the pain and rage back any longer as she threw the rock, and it smashed against the back of the black figure. The explosive movement caused her to fall forward as she landed hard on her knees and hands. There she stayed as she allowed the tears to flow freely down her face.

Unmoved, the low voice asked again, “Your crime?”

Without raising her head, Traviata answered, “For being me. That’s my crime.”

“You were forced out of your home?”

“Yes, by my own family!” Her chest heaved. “A-abandoned. They burned the house and my cats!” She needed to get it all out. “Why? For what? For not being like them, normal? For choosing my own path and not theirs?” She shook her head. “Why? I don’t know why — they couldn’t accept me as me. And somehow that became my crime.”

Several moments of silence passed as she continued to stare down at the gray earth. She expected pain to come at any time. She prayed that the end would be swift.

The leather from the saddle creaked, and then a loud thud sounded when a pair of boots hit the hard ground.

“Traviata.” The tone now soft, kinder.

She hesitated before glancing up. The figure now stood before her, exposed. The golden-brown eyes that adorned a youthful face squinted as a smile spread across his lips. He held out a hand to her. “Stand, please.”

Traviata exhaled and then reached for the hand. The man pulled her gently up.

“You are a jewel. Rare and precious.” His face radiated benevolence behind the smile as he continued to hold her hand. “Come with me and leave your old life behind.”

She blinked at him, and then smiled back.

(first published with Piker Press December 15th, 2014)

Story Sunday: The Pocket Watch (Flash Fiction)

the-pocket-watch

 

Rob gripped the steering wheel as he watched a brown leaf roll across the gray hood. His haggard face covered with salt and pepper beard helped conceal the white scar across his right cheek. He stared ahead as he half-listened to the car radio.

“The President is expected to address the nation tonight for the final time.” The radio garbled. “Before leaving with his family to an undisclosed location.”

He leaned over and changed the stations.

“CDC still have no answers as to what is causing the flu-like pandemic, nor are they any closer to an effective vaccine or treatment…”

Another station.

“With the death toll skyrocketing across the country and hospitals completely overwhelmed with the sick, medical personnel are urging everyone to stay indoors in hope of slowing down the spread…”

Yet another.

“Ten more police officers gunned down by looters as they struggle to protect the civilians still in the downtown area…”

The radio went silent when Rob opened the door. He didn’t bother to close it as he staggered into the expansive cemetery. Shadows lurked everywhere yet his own moved with each faltered step. His shoulders slumped forward as he buried both hands deep in the pockets of the ragged trench coat.

He passed rows and rows of old and broken stones until he approached a mangled oak tree. He stooped over a particular headstone, half-buried in yellowed grass. He pulled his right hand out and pressed it on top of the cold stone.

Julie Lerne
Born March 3, 1972-Died November 12, 2010

Craig Lerne
Born April 15, 2008-Died November 10, 2010

He bowed his head, eyes closed. “Jules…three years, Jules.”

He stood still for several moments. A dark lock of hair fell over his left eye as his lips quivered. Rob then deliberately reached into the right pocket, and pulled out a pistol.

“I’m so tired of just surviving.” He mumbled as he shifted the weapon to his left and then back to the right hand. “Everyone’s gone.” He pressed the trigger back. “I don’t want to be alone anymore.” And raised the gun towards his temple.

He suddenly paused midway when the branches of the nearby tree swayed and creaked. A breeze swept over his thin body as his hazel eyes searched each and every stone.

“Jules?” His voice shook.

Everything grew still. Including the shadows.

Rob sucked in a trembling breath as he extended the free hand into the left pocket, and extracted a tarnished, gold-colored pocket watch. He used the thumb to flip the lid open.

“7:15.” He whispered.

He blinked several times. There was something engraved in the lid as he continued to stare at it.

Safe haven
79 S 30 W

A smile slowly spread across his lips. “Dad, you son of a b–” He chuckled as he snapped the lid shut, and dropped the watch back into the pocket.

Rob leaned against the headstone as he pushed the trigger back down.

“There’s something I need to do, Jules.” He muttered with excitement. “I’ll be back to…” His voice trailed off when he turned around.

Crack!

A piece of wood slammed against the side of his head, and he instantly slumped to the ground. As he lied in a heap, his eyes remained open.

They saw nothing.

A murky shadow moved across the earth and enveloped the body, and lifted the watch out of the pocket.

“Whatcha got, Jim?” A scrawny girl in a tattered dress appeared next to the corpse.

The male teen’s crooked smile revealed two missing front teeth as he grasped the ticking object in his grimy hand. “Lunch!”

 

(First published with Asylum Ink on April, 11th 2014)