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A Mysterious Request

Categories: Creative Writing Prompts Tags: creative writing exercises, creative writing prompts, writing prompts.

You receive a letter at your workplace from a high school classmate, who is now in prison. “I know I’ve caused you a lot of grief,” the letter says, “but there’s something I need that only you can get for me. Don’t tell anyone about this.”

Post your response (500 words or fewer) in the comments below.

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266 Responses to A Mysterious Request

  1. mokingjay says:

    I was sitting in the back yard one fine summer morning, listening to the birds and humming to myself. I could feel the sun baking my skin, and for a moment, I was in heaven. But it was just a moment, and as usual, i was interrupted; this time by the sound of my name.
    “Maggie, you have a letter!” My brother Jake was on top of me before I could sit up, waving the envelope in front of my face laughing. “I bet it’s from a boy.”
    “Shut up, you twerp!” I said snatching it from him. I was not happy at being disturbed, but also intrigued. I never got letters.
    I opened the envelope and out falls a curious looking coin, about the size of my palm, I place it beside be and began to read the unfamiliar handwriting.

    Dear Maggie,
    I know that you don’t know me well, and that I have caused you great grief. But please, do not think this is yet another plea for forgiveness. To be honest, I need something, and you are the only person I know will get it for me. I am in trouble, and I beg you to prove that you are braver than I was and to not desert me, like I did you. If you can help me I will be forever in your gratitude.
    Here is what to do: Go to Marilyn Park sometime between 4 and 9 Saturday, and make your way to the small Memorial Museum. Go in through the back door. There should be a small man in a large coat sitting at a desk, apparently asleep. Go up to him and rink the small bell on the table. Then hand him the coin I have given you and tall him that I sent you. He will know what to do. It may seem strange but trust him.
    When you have collected the…object…drop it off at my back door that night. Do not ring a bell or knock, just leave it by the back door. You cannot know how important this is.

    Samuel

  2. Vendetta says:

    The wrinkled, ripped, and taped envelope sat benignly on my desk. The return name and address clearly written in his block handwriting. I had pushed him so far into the back of my mind, a flood of memories and emotions well up inside me. Amazing how this happens just at the sight of a name.
    My day is lost, spent shuffling memo’s and papers arbitrarily keeping myself from opening the letter for fear of it’s contents. Maybe its some sort of 12 step program, apologizing to me for all the agony and pain he caused my family and I. Maybe it’s a taunt. What has he done to deserve the courtesy of reading whatever gesture this may be?
    High school seemed so long ago even though the incident and all the horrible memories seemed so close. I can’t fight it anymore, when I get to the car I fumble with the envelope finding the composure to read the letter and get answers to all my questions.

    Dear Ethan,
    To say the least, I have caused you a lot of grief. There is something that I need. Something only you can get for me. Your sisters forgiveness. Please try.

    Sincerely,
    Ben

    The letter has left more questions than answers I think to myself, folding the letter and placing it back into the envelope. I take a deep breathe, emotions continue to flood. I put the car in drive and pull out of my parking spot. This is one of those drives, the one where you’re driving but you don’t even recall doing it, because your thoughts are so tied up in the days events.
    I step out of the car and the door gently shuts behind me as I approach her. A single tear escapes when I place the envelope on her grave stone, I fight as hard as I can to keep the rest down. Walking away from the gravestone a lone dove sits on the hood of my car and as it angrily craps a stream of poop all over the newly detailed paint. I laugh hysterically wiping away the remaining tears, I know I have my answer.

  3. mshoward says:

    “Hey, how are you this evening?”
    “Great it was a beautiful day, just thought I would come in to finish some work early.” He said with a smile “What cha got for me?” he said excited
    “Well, I got a few magazines some proposals and this” she said as she held up an envelope addressed from the state prison system
    “You have a family member in prison?” She was curious
    A look of despair fell across his face and a sudden overwhelming fear overcame his body. “Boss, are you ok? You don’t look so good!” she became worried with his sudden change of demeanor.
    “Um, I’m fine” he stammered “just leave it on my desk, Thanks that’ll be all” he dismissed her
    “Ok let me know if you need anything else” she offered
    He nodded in agreement
    He studied the envelope, unsure if he wanted to open it. It didn’t have an inmate name on it but he knew who it was from. He flipped the envelope over and slowly tore the seal; he took a deep breath and began to read:
    Old friend,
    How’s it going? Haven’t heard from you in a while, especially since that night. I’ve thought about coming to find you to make sure you didn’t talk but as time went on I realized you were to scared to lose the precious life that you have built, you would never squeal because you knew you’d go down with me. I was all about forgetting what happened until recently. I know I’ve caused you a lot of grief, but there is something I need that only you can do for me. Now don’t tell anyone about this or you will lose everything you have. I know that you work as a bank manager, I will be released in a few days and I’m going to need some money to flee the country and move some things around. I know a guy who can set up an off shore account I need you to deliver $200,000 to him by 10pm on August 20th. Don’t try to get smart and call the police, if you know what’s good for you! You will meet at the old city bar he’ll be wearing a black biker jacket with a dragon tattoo on his hand. Don’t be late the clock is ticking.
    He looked around his office in fear and then up at the clock it was almost 4:30.
    “Where the hell am I going to get $200,000?” he panicked
    He pondered whether or not the threat was real, deciding he didn’t want to take that chance he took the keys to the safety deposit boxes and headed for the vault.

  4. Tye_Banks_Myers says:

    Sorry my writing is so rough. I haven’t written anything in about 10 years after a self-imposed sabbatical and I am trying to get back into it. Please be kind with your critiques but honest as well. Thanks!

  5. Tye_Banks_Myers says:

    After reading the first paragraph of the letter, I growled in outrage and crumpled the page in my fist. “How dare she?!” I raged as I replayed the opening paragraph of the letter in my head. Michelle had a lot of nerve to put pen to paper to ask me for anything, especially after everything I went through in the past ten years. I sat heavily down on the edge of the small cot at the halfway house where I had lived for the past six months since I had been released from prison. The paper felt sharp and hot in my hand and seemed to pulse with the urgency of Michelle’s words scrawled on it. I reluctantly straightened out the paper with shaking hands and picked up reading where she I left off.
    “I know you probably hate me and I can’t say I blame you. I didn’t mean for everything to go down the way it did. I had no idea that the police would arrest you. I guess the fact that we look so much alike, a fact that we used to pride ourselves on in high school, proved to be your downfall. The guilt I have lived with since you have been inside is almost more than I could bear. I don’t know why you didn’t fight harder to tell your truth. I don’t regret what I did and I guess I have another 20 years in this hell hole to think about my actions but I need you to finish this…”
    Hot tears fell from my eyes as I finished the letter and I folded it delicately into a neat triangle, just like Michelle and I used to do in high school when we would pass notes in class. I will never forget the day when she read the note I had passed her in algebra class, revealing my awful secret. Michelle was always protective of me and when she read my note she turned around in her seat to look at me in horror. Helpless and ashamed tears filled my eyes as I held my best friend’s gaze. “Tonight.” she said with finality.
    Now here I am, ten years later, doing my best friend’s bidding. Michelle never left anything undone. Once she sets her mind to something, she completes it. That’s what friends are for. I walked into the building she had described in the letter and was assaulted with the aroma of fresh urine and Pine-Sol. I walked quickly past the preoccupied front desk attendant and searched for room 212. I glanced into the open doorways that I passed and saw people in different kinds of stages of recuperation. I pulled my jacket closer around me against the chill of the air-conditioned air and pulled the hood of my jacket over my head. I reached into my pocket and rested my hand on the metallic heaviness there. I looked up and room 212 was in front of me. I stood in the doorway and gazed at the familiar form, lying in the bed, hooked to tubes and machines, severely disfigured from an earlier attempt. I pulled out my gun, aimed at the figure and pulled the trigger, proving my loyalty Michelle. After all, best friends are forever.

  6. I held the paper with contempt. The verbiage, the voice, everything about this letter disgusted me. A confession, a request; what he wanted more than anything was absolution. He began by admitting his fault, followed by an apology. He then had the audacity to follow up his apology with a list of excuses and asked that I accept his apology regardless.

    Take an opportunity to make amends and then ruin it.

    I imagined I was addressing him. Come humbly, I thought, and you’d get what you want; come to me with entitlement and get this instead. I crumpled up the letter and threw it in the fireplace, allowing the flames to embody my anger and consume his words.

  7. Birdee0809 says:

    CHARMED

    My cat’s yowling and incessant twirling around my ankles was forgotten and I stared at the letter in my hands as if my intense gaze upon it was enough to force further explanation from the paper. Not seeing any activity that signified a meal was forthcoming; my cat reared up and attempted to crawl up my leg.

    “Ouch! Alright, I’m getting it,” I said, surprised at the shaky sound of my voice.

    I busied myself in my home office for the rest of the evening, occasionally throwing quick glances toward the kitchen counter where I’d left the letter. How did he know? That was so long ago and I was so careful.

    Paul Hunsaker was the most popular boy in high school. He was tall with dark hair, blue eyes and a winning smile. Anyone lucky enough to be the object of his attention came away from the encounter with a swaggering walk and puff of pride, or a crimson blush and a dreamy look in their eyes. He was nice to me once. Once.

    For me this was yet another in a long line of schools with unfriendly faces. My parents were wanderers and it was not unusual for me to come home to find us packed. As much as I tried not to be noticed, I was the quiet chubby kid. Every school has one, the kid that gets all A’s and can’t do a pull up. I don’t remember what Paul and I spoke about but I remember smiling. Any hopes of having a friend were dashed the next day, however, when he stood, the jewel in the center of the puffed and blushing, laughing at me.

    “I know I’ve caused you a lot of grief,” he wrote in the letter, “but there’s something I need that only you can get for me. Don’t tell anyone about this.” The letter went on to tell me something of his life, the highs, the lows and the circumstances that landed him in prison, among other things.

    I went to the bedroom and opened my jewelry box. I reached inside and took out the little silver charm. Now tarnished, it was bright and shiny when I stole it out of his locker that early morning all those years ago. He had been beside himself when it went missing, repeatedly asking the students, including me, if they had seen it.

    I wrapped the charm in tissue paper and carefully placed it in a small box. I addressed it to someone in California as Paul had asked then I stood and looked at it for a long while, trying to figure out why I didn’t want to let it go.

    I breathed a sigh of relief once I made my decision and I took the little package and tucked it into the corner of my jewelry box. Although he said a lot of things in his letter, “I’m sorry” wasn’t one of them.

    • assaultymcnulty says:

      I liked your MC. I liked style as well. A couple things…why did she steal his charm…spite?? and How did he figure out she had it?

      • Birdee0809 says:

        Thanks for your comments!

        She did it because she was tired of always being hurt by other kids for being new, for being different. When he was nice to her, for the first time she saw a side of people she didn’t know existed, a nice side. She saw the possibility of having a friend and then he took that away.

        Besides the part about him being in prison and stealing from the locker, the story of the quiet chubby kid and wandering parents is actually true. I was that kid. He was a real person (although I did change the name), he was nice to me once and once only. I never stole from him and didn’t have his locker combination but I used to shove notes through the slots in his locker. Odd notes that made no sense and that was exactly their purpose. It drove him crazy and he had a good idea it was me but could never catch me doing it. I suppose that’s how the Paul in the story knew my character had the charm.

        Have a great night everybody.

  8. cdmina says:

    When I received the letter I was confused and honestly thought it might be some kind of joke, but as I read on I realized that it couldn’t be.
    “Do you remember my old house, the baby blue house on the corner of West and 5th?
    Do I remember his house? How could I forget? I was only required to go there every Wednesday for a whole semester to tutor him. I was such a silly girl then, silly and naive. I rolled my eyes at the thought.
    “I need you to go there and pick something up for me.”
    Was he kidding? After what he put me through he has the nerve to write me out of the blue ten years later and ask me for favors? I wanted to laugh out loud just to spite him. I wanted to tear his pitiful letter up into tiny little pieces and throw it over my head like joyous confetti, but I couldn’t. I read on.
    “I know that is probably the last place you want to go, but I wouldn’t ask if it weren’t important.”
    The last place I want to go? Boy was that an understatement. I was mad now, even more so than I was all those years ago. I could feel the heat rising in the meat of my cheeks.
    “My mother still lives there. I know she’ll be happy to see you. She always liked you.”
    Mrs. Franza. I had forgotten all about her. She used to bring us cookies while we studied and say how she wished her Joey would smarten up and find a good girl like me instead of dating those “lose cheerleaders.” I wished the same thing for a short time.
    After work I drove to the little blue house on the corner of West and 5th. I sat in my car for a while wondering why on earth I was there. I was about to pull away when a much older Mrs. Franza opened the front door and peered out at me over her thick glasses. I took a deep breath, then stepped out of my car and waived.
    After tea she led me up to his room and left to check on the cookies she was baking. I shut the door then knelt and pulled a shoebox out from under his bed.
    I opened the box and my eyes started to water. There on top of a pile of pictures was an ultra sound. More specifically, it was the ultrasound I had thrown at him in the hallway of our high school before I ran out sobbing. That was the year I dropped out.
    The rest of the pictures were of my son and me – ten years of pictures. I was crying as I looked through them. Then I noticed a note at the bottom of the stack. The handwriting was young, but it was his.
    “I’m so sorry.”

  9. mpatterson5 says:

    The letter in my hand felt like a lead weight. The return address was Woburn Women’s Prison. There was only one person this could be from, and there was only one thing she could want. Knowing this day would come did not make reading this letter any easier.

    “Sonya,

    I know I caused you a lot of grief. It was not fair of me to lay my burden on you, especially after the way I treated you in high school. I was such a bully. But since I’ve been in here, I’ve learned it’s not my fault. You know my family was such a mess and I only learned what I saw around me, that’s what the psychiatrist says. That’s why I shot my father, I felt I had no other option. But you were so lucky. You had a great mother with a good job at social services. I’m sure she find a good home for Dehlila. I will be released soon and I must see her. Please, you are the only one who knows where she is. You must get me the address. But don’t tell anyone because the terms of my release say that I am supposed to stay away from her and children in general.

    Thank you so much.
    Roberta”

    The nausea came in waves. Released so soon? It had only been 10 years. I thought we’d have more time. I looked at Dehlila hunched over her homework, so deep in thought that her little eyebrows were crinkled. “Mom” she said, “Is everything all right? You look like you’ve just seen a ghost.”

    • Wendy2020 says:

      Love the topic of the letter. I thought maybe she had taken on temporary custody, but seems like the friend only wants to “see” her daughter? Maybe help flesh this out for me as I would like to know the backstory in your mind?

      Was was also an accused child molester?

      Very good job!

  10. Hasturtargos says:

    A Mysterious Request
    He awoke in a daze.
    The room was warm yet he felt the rush of a cool breeze gently caressing his skin. He pressed his eyes together tightly, he then realized how precious these first few seconds were, and would do anything to keep himself from the harsh reality of where he was and what he had done. “If only I could stay….”he breathed, and with a sigh, opened his eyes.
    A wholly unwelcome scene greeted him. He gazed across his tiny 6×8 foot cell, displeasure engraved on his face. The harsh grey bricks were a mockery to the rolling green fields he had been dreaming of. He smiled as he recalled the cool breeze he had felt only moments ago, and at the painful irony of the dream he now left.
    His cell had no windows.
    With effort, he hauled himself over the side of the bed and cautiously peered under it. He hoped it wasn’t still there, he prayed that this was yet another dream and that the fate that awaited him was not still there, biding its time until they met at last. He never was very lucky, just ask any casino floor manager from Atlantic City to Vegas, but that was a lifetime ago; a lot had changed.
    This hadn’t changed, not since it was delivered weeks ago. He was no better than a child, scared by the monsters under his bed, but this monster was different.
    This monster never leaves.
    He reached under the bed and took the small envelope. His hands were shaking, he was terrified. he opened the unsealed letter and began to read….

    James,
    I’m not getting sucked into one of your ridiculous schemes again, those days are over. I’m sorry, but I have a family now, Josie is pregnant, I’m going to be a father. I have new responsibilities, a lot can happen in 15 years.
    We were best friends and don’t get me wrong, your situation it’s a real shame it turned out the way it did, you had a real future. We all did. But this isn’t high school anymore, we warned you what would happen if you kept picking and poking at the system, we tried to help you. What did you think was going to happen?
    I’m better now James, I’ve had help, I just want to keep my family safe and forget about all that shit. I’ve moved on. I’m better now.
    But I owe you this much. I’ll track her down, I’ll get you what you need, I’ll use my contacts in the wardens office, but after this I’m done with you for good. I will never understand why you did it, and I don’t want to. Some things are better left unsaid.
    Goodbye James
    Yours Sincerely William

    His mind swam. Nothing could have prepared him for this.
    “Well that was unexpected” he said to himself.
    A deep shiver ran through his spine, the breeze was back. He sat, bemused, for what seemed like hours.
    His contemplation was suddenly broken by the harsh clang of metal scraping on metal. He slowly drew his sunken eyes from the floor to meet this challenge.
    An unfamiliar figure met his lazy gaze. His plain black trousers and emblazoned blue overcoat marked him as one of the guards, but he was sure he had never seen him before.
    The guard scowled unapologetically, “breakfast time, trash”. He was unfazed by the insult, choosing to remain silent.
    Then out of the blue, the guard smirked and gave a slow nod towards the bowl of more-than-lumpy porridge.
    “Enjoy” he said making no effort to conceal his sarcasm. And with that he left.
    His heart suddenly racing, he got up and retrieved the breakfast tray. He hesitantly moved the bowl and was shocked at what he saw.
    Those eyes, eyes that had haunted him for years , laid bare before him.
    “There you are!” he cried out.
    “I’ve been waiting for you”. He whispered to his sapphire visage.
    He pressed his lips against the passport-sized picture, a young girl stared back at him, eyes no longer filled with judgement or anguish, only acceptance and understanding.
    He closed his eyes and repeatedly muttered.
    “It was an accident”

    (not exactly 500 words ;) im still a bit new at this!)

  11. free2fly says:

    I walked out of the hotel room, with my flight attendant bags. I made my way down to the lobby at 4:30 a.m. The shuttle bus took us to the airport, and we entered the crew room. As I sipped my java, with Captain Joe, and First Officer McCain, waiting for the delayed flight, I decided to check my filing cabinet in the crew room.

    “What a day this is going to be, already, delays at 4:30 in the morning. We don’t get paid for this crap. It’s freezing, and I’m annoyed already. Maybe I have some good mail.”

    “Crew schedule, check. Payroll check stub-check. Airport update, check. Weather report, check. Letter from federal prison?”

    “Anything exciting in there?” Asked Captain Joe?

    “Not really.” I mustered up a smile for the Captain.

    “Hey there, Luisa. I know it’s been a while. I am sure you were shocked that I killed my fiancé. Yet, I have a favor to ask of you. I need something only you can get for me. Please, don’t tell anyone about this.”

    I put the letter down, sipped my coffee, and pondered the audacity.

    “I am sure, punkin’, you are wondering how I got your work place address. That is a secret all in itself. I have my ways of finding my children. The main thing, is that I need your mother’s engagement ring sent to me immediately. You see, I am up for parole soon. I am going to need some cash for a new start. I bought it for your mother.”

    I put the letter down. I was now infuriated.

    Captain Joe, “Is everything ok, Luisa?”

    “I think I need to head down to the airport Starbuck’s, I’ll be back.”

    “Hurry back, the flight could leave at anytime.”

    Dad never paid one cent of child support. How dare he write me asking me for mom’s engagement ring?

    “What’ll it be?” “A double shot of espresso, please.”

    I know it was early, but I decided to call my Pastor and ask, “What would Jesus do?”
    “I remember your dad and how in love he was with your mother. Oh, how sad it makes me that they played on the worship team together and that he is now in prison. Herb had such a great voice. He always lifted up people to the Lord. I advised him to get that ring for her. I felt like he had truly changed, truly repented. Oh, Lou, I don’t know what Jesus would do.”

    My mind flooded with regret and anger.. Yet, at the same time, I realize we all sin and have mistakes. I had some sort of strange compassion for Herb-my dad.

    I hung up with the Pastor, and went back to the crew room with a Starbuck’s for the Captain. As I continued my thought process, I came across another letter.
    “How had I missed this?”

    It was from the same prison. I thought, “This day is going to completely suck.”

    It was from my bff in high-school. I couldn’t believe it. She was in prison?

    I couldn’t believe my eyeballs.

    “Dear Lou, I know you are surprised to be hearing from me. I have met your dad. He is quite the singer here in prison. He lifts us all up to the Lord. I need something from you, that only you can get for me.”

    Why is everyone I’ve ever loved in prison?

    “I need the necklace that we bought in high school. Remember, the bff heart necklace. You had one part of the heart, and I had the other. I know your dad is asking you for the engagement ring of your mother’s. When you send him the ring, you can send the other part of the necklace. You see, I am heading for death row. I desire to be reminded, as they put that lethal injection into my heart, of the fact that I at least had one BFF in my lifetime that truly loved me. Please don’t tell anyone about this. I want to die in peace.”

    I was still wearing the heart shaped BFF part of the necklace around my neck after all these years. We had lost touch, and she was always my BFF. I didn’t care about the crime she had committed.

    All I remember is us stealing the President’s shoes and socks and the sock hop. I remember senior skip day, and us at the lake singing “Bobby McGee” until our throats were so sore. I remember all the sleep over’s throughout high school. I remember….we said we would be BFF’s until…

    “Til death do us part.”

    “Flight Attendant Luisa, report to Gate CF for flight to the Bahama’s.”

    I would have to send them all the jewelry upon my return.

    • Wendy2020 says:

      Two interesting requests, but I think it would be stronger if you picked one: father or friend? Admittedly, I have never been in prison, but not sure young female prisoners and older male prisoners socialize, even in prayer?

      Was a bit confusing to know what was spoken, thought or read since they were all in quotations. Not sure the best deliniation, but maybe using italics for the letter, regular paragraphs for thoughts, and save quotes for dialogue?

      Overall, strong concept!

  12. D.Rose says:

    Elizabeth Lake sat at her coffee table, sifting through the morning mail, still in her nightgown. She sipped Earl Grey tea from a “World’s Best Mom” mug. She never was much of a coffee drinker.

    “Bills. Bills. Junk. More Bills,” she said aloud, to no one in particular, rummaging through each envelope. The last piece of mail was a bit more peculiar however; the return address said “Green Lake State Penitentiary.” ‘Maybe they’re writing to tell me little Sofie committed grand theft auto,’ she thought lightheartedly. ‘I sure hope she snagged a Mercedes.’

    With uncertain hands she ripped the top of the envelope off and sent it soaring through the air like a bewildered bird.

    “Dear Elizabeth,” the letter began.
    “I know I’ve caused you a lot of grief, but there’s something I need that only you can get for me. Don’t tell anyone about this. For the last eleven years I’ve spent my every waking minute thinking of you. I even think of you when I’m not awake and happen to find you in my dreams. I’m begrudgingly cognoscente of the fact that this may be an inopportune time for you to receive a letter from me, what with your new family. But then again, would there ever truly be a good time? Nevertheless I have succumbed to my feelings for you and contacted you in order to learn your feelings for me. I hope that maybe, just maybe, deep inside you lies some residual feelings like the ones I fathomlessly harbor for you still. After all we were so madly in love for a short period of time. I know that I’ve made mistakes in my life, one that I regret every day, but you know in your heart that I’m a good man. Please write back to me and reveal your true feelings. I need to know.”
    Forever yours,
    Arthur Trubridge”

    “How dare he!?” She shrieked, grabbing a pen and a piece of pink construction paper—one of Sofie’s would-be-masterpieces.

    “Arthur,” she began.
    “In what recess of your diluted and imbecilic mind did you believe that I would EVER have feelings for you again. After what you put me and Cole’s family through all those years ago. You killed their son, my boyfriend, and a great person. We were just in high school Arthur! You and I dated for three weeks! And now that I’ve finally started a new family and begun to forget, you try to come back into my life. You should rot in that prison for the rest of eternity. Don’t write me again. I will never feel anything but hatred for you.”

    She folded the letter vehemently and shoved it into an envelope. ‘In 3-5 business days I will never have to worry about Arthur Trubridge again,’ Elizabeth thought.

    The mail came early. Two days later Arthur was found hanging in his cell by his bed sheets. His suicide note was written on the back of a piece of pink construction paper.

  13. D.Rose says:

    Elizabeth Lake sat at her coffee table, sifting through the morning mail, still in her nightgown. She sipped Earl Grey tea from a “World’s Best Mom” mug. She never was much of a coffee drinker.

    “Bills. Bills. Junk. More Bills,” she said aloud, to no one in particular, rummaging through each envelope. The last piece of mail was a bit more peculiar however; the return address said “Green Lake State Penitentiary.” ‘Maybe they’re writing to tell me little Sofie committed grand theft auto,’ she thought lightheartedly. ‘I sure hope she snagged a Mercedes.’

    With uncertain hands she ripped the top of the envelope off and sent it soaring through the air like a bewildered bird.

    “Dear Elizabeth,” the letter began.
    “I know I’ve caused you a lot of grief, but there’s something I need that only you can get for me. Don’t tell anyone about this. For the last eleven years I’ve spent my every waking minute thinking of you. I even think of you when I’m not awake and happen to find you in my dreams. I’m begrudgingly cognoscente of the fact that this may be an inopportune time for you to receive a letter from me, what with your new family. But then again, would there ever truly be a good time? Nevertheless I have succumbed to my feelings for you and contacted you in order to learn your feelings for me. I hope that maybe, just maybe, deep inside you lies some residual feelings like the ones I fathomlessly harbor for you still. After all we were so madly in love for a short period of time. I know that I’ve made mistakes in my life, one that I regret every day, but you know in your heart that I’m a good man. Please write back to me and reveal your true feelings. I need to know.”
    Forever yours,
    Arthur Trubridge”

    “How dare he!?” She shrieked, grabbing a pen and a piece of pink construction paper—one of Sofie’s would-be-masterpieces.

    “Arthur,” she began.
    “In what recess of your diluted and imbecilic mind did you believe that I would EVER have feelings for you again. After what you put me and Cole’s family through all those years ago. You killed their son, my boyfriend, and a great person. We were just in high school Arthur! You and I dated for three weeks! And now that I’ve finally started a new family and begun to forget, you try to come back into my life. You should rot in that prison for the rest of eternity. Don’t write me again. I will never feel anything but hatred for you.”

    She folded the letter vehemently and shoved it into an envelope. In 3-5 business days I will never have to worry about Arthur Trubridge again, Elizabeth thought.

    The mail came early. Two days later Arthur was found hanging in his cell by his bed sheets. His suicide note was written on the back of a piece of pink construction paper.

    • Wendy2020 says:

      I think the deluded unquited love angle is a good one. Probably could have trimmed some of the words and still gotten the strong message across. Like the the suicide note was written on the back of her letter.

      Good job!

  14. slayerdan says:

    A sleight laugh at the number of us that : used murder, 25 years ago, and correctional places for elements of the story. Definitely found it amusing. Carry on.

  15. rob akers says:

    A Captain Bill Rimes Story

    16 August 2012

    Finishing their yearly tradition that honored The King, Elvis Aaron Presley. Anna put down her peanut butter and banana sandwich to answer her ringing cell phone while Bill turned down the Elvis music blasting from the IPOD. Anna listened for a couple of minutes before a quizzical look furled her brow. She handed the phone to Bill.

    “Hello?” Bill replied.

    “Billy, how are you brother?”

    “Jimmy?” Bill asked.

    “Yea, how have you been?”

    “Lousy, for the last 3 months the Office of Special Investigations keeps asking if I know where you are. For some reason they think we are friends. You skipped town and left me with the check. It is pissing me off.”

    “Dude, sorry about that but I can’t do prison. I will try to get them off your back. By the way, I fell into something really good, if you ever need a different career I can hook you up.”

    Bill ignored the offer. “I am not going to lie to them, if they ask me about you calling.”

    “That’s cool. I need a favor.”

    “You always need a favor. No is my final answer. I am not doing it, no matter what it is.” Bill yelled into the phone.

    “Hear me out and if you don’t want to do it, no worries. Remember the waitress from the Bean Dip?”

    Bill remembered the beautiful young hostess. He sat in silence and waited for Jimmy to drop his bomb.

    Jimmy continued. “Her name is Marta. She is pregnant and wants to have an abortion in the morning. Dude, I know I am a train wreck husband and a deadbeat father but I do have some morals. I would take care of this myself, but…well you know. Anyway, I don’t care if you tell the OSI about me calling. I do care about the life of that kid. Please help her make a different decision.”

    Bill sat in stunned silence. He and Anna had tried for years to have a child but after extensive testing it was discovered that Bill’s swimmers were few and slow. His friends teased that he just needed to get closer to Anna’s ovaries. Several had jokingly offered to take his place. They teased because they cared and in reality, if anyone ever actually considered a relationship with Anna, that person would instantly earn 120 deadly enemies. Bill sat in silence long enough that Jimmy thought the phone had been disconnected. “Okay, I will talk to her but do not ever call me again.”

    “Thanks dude.”

    Bill and Anna spoke for a couple of hours before heading over to Marta’s apartment. They found that she lived with 17 other men and women. All of them were from Mexico and all were illegal in the eyes of the US Government. Taking several minutes to earn the trust of the man who answered the door, Marta finally stepped out of the apartment. Hours later, an agreement had been struck. Bill and Anna were finally going to be parents.

    • Wendy2020 says:

      Interesting storyline concept.

      A couple thoughts:

      Instead of saying Elvis music was playing, how about mentioning a specific song like “Hound Dog” or “Jailhouse Rock”? I like the specific better.

      I might make some of the dialogue more informal, add contractions or incomplete sentences?

      Good effort!

      • rob akers says:

        You are right, I should have named the song instead of the general Elvis refrence.

        About the dialogue, that is something I always struggle with. How informal can it be and still be okay? Also, when I first write the dialogue, it is very informal with a personal voice. During the edit phase, I really clean it up then and that is usually where I cut the extra words. Would love to have some discussion about dialogue from everyone.

        • wilson hara says:

          I liked this story. I’ve been reading previous posts (to become better acquainted with Captain Bill Rimes) and enjoyed them. The story you ‘fleshed out’ on your blog was excellent! (I couldn’t leave a comment… tech. issues), I felt a part of the action (thrilling) and that line “heart breaking pause”.. well, it broke my heart a little, and I read breathlessly on. It’s difficult for me to keep up with the …technology(?) of war but that is because I know nothing about it.
          As for dialogue, I struggle too but informal is fine (in this story). It’s interesting what you said about editing your own dial., that’s the one part of my stories that almost never get edited. And I’d love to hear more about dialogue too.

          • rob akers says:

            Wilson,

            I am honored that you took the time to read the story on my blog. I am humbled that you found it worth the time you spent. I Thank You and I thank everyone for visiting. Since last week there have been 121 visits to the blog. I am blown away because of everyone. You guys rock!

            The newest post will be up this time Sunday.

            About the dialogue: I feel that this is one area where I need to be stronger. I have been told otherwise but I dont believe it yet so I am lacking faith.

        • fbxwriter says:

          First of all, I love the fact that immoral Jimmy doesn’t like abortion. That’s the kind of contradiction that’s laugh-out-loud funny yet poignantly human.

          As to dialogue: I also find places to cut words in my dialogue in the edit phase. But I try hard to not clean up the grammar. I tend to think that what comes off the top of your head has a certain authenticity. That said, in real life we “edit” what others say, ignoring the extraneous stuff and honing in on what’s relevant. I think our job as writers is to do that for the readers. Dialogue should reflect the feel of the conversation (formal or informal), but it should be directly to the point. No wasted words.

          • fbxwriter says:

            P.S. A minor edit: “a quizzical look furled her brow.” I believe that should be “furrowed.”

          • rob akers says:

            I am glad you noticed that about Jimmy. I personally know people like this, like we all do. A unborn child was about the only thing that would encourage Bill to help Jimmy.

            Thanks for picking out that I have choosen the wrong furled. You are right it is furrowed. I made the mistake because of the combination of a wasted high school career and spell check choosing furled at the top of the list. Thanks for keeping me honest.

        • DMelde says:

          Hi Rob. Cool tie-in between Jimmie and Bill. Speaking of dialogue, when I read your story I thought you were using informal/formal dialogue to distinguish between Jimmie and Bill. Jimmie being the informal speaker, and Bill, since he was mad at Jimmie, took the more formal, and stern (in this case), way of speaking. But then Jimmie said “She is pregnant” instead of saying, She’s pregnant, and that, for me, made it fall apart. …and then later…”Dude, I know I am a train wreck”…instead of, I know I’m a… If the informal had stayed consistent it would have further highlighted your artistry, but I’m confident you, or an editor, would have caught these little mistakes a little farther along the editing trail anyway. Dialogue, for me, is having the voice stay consistent once it starts talking. Great job, and thanks for sharing. I like where this story is going.

    • MCKEVIN says:

      Nice. Good read Rob.

      • rob akers says:

        Thanks for reading.

        By the way I am looking for a prompt that would allow Bill to express his feelings on the homosexual lifestyle. I do think it is a important topic that should be explored and solved. It is one of the issues that has a negative impact on society because it has become a larger issue than it really should be. We need to grow up as a country and allow everyone to have the right to follow their own path.

        Sorry I got political and I am not looking to start a fight or a seperate discussion. Just making a comment that is intended for MCKEVIN only.

    • Icabu says:

      Wonderful story, Rob. Can’t wait to find out how Bill & Anna deal with parenting.

      I’m with you on dialogue – it’s tough to get a ‘voice’ and not just quoted words.

    • JR MacBeth says:

      Awesome story concept Rob. Dialogue? Yeah, could be more relaxed and natural. I sometimes read what I write out loud, and find that if I don’t talk that way, maybe my character shouldn’t either.

      Still, this is such a creative concept over all that I think it could deserve an expansion. Great job!

      • rob akers says:

        Thanks for your comments and encouragement.

        I have found that I can hear the character’s voice in my head but transmitting it to paper is very tough. This is even more difficult when you have several characters.

    • radioPanic says:

      Well done, Rob. The more of these I read, the more layers and depth the characters show.

      About dialogue, I always try to mimic the way people speak as close as possible. And that means contractions, often ones that spellcheck hasn’t even heard of. The only time I use fully formal sounding speech is when I’m trying to make a character seem alien. Or very educated. Or if they’e trying to emphasize a point, writing it formally makes each word stand out, gives speech a little more power.

      As for the homosexual issue, that’s a toughie. I tried to play off that a bit this week w/the ‘kiss’, but that was mainly to add to the uncomfortable effect I was trying to achieve, since I realize how uncomfortable the issue makes a lot of people. Looking forward to how you approach it when it comes up.

      • rob akers says:

        Radio,

        Thank you for seeing the depth in these characters that is starting to develop. The Jimmy character is a template for a character that will appear in the novel that I am working on. I was struggling to get my head around him and decided to flesh him out via the weekly prompts. I think I have a better idea of who he will be.

        It is actually the second novel, the first one is complete and in the edit phase. I have posted the first 1300 words on my blog if anyone cares to take a look and let me know your thoughts.

        About the homosexual issue, I want to respond to a challenge from MCKEVIN but I think it is important to have the right prompt. For me, it is not a difficult issue at all. But I am a simple man and see it in its most basic form.

  16. JohnBethlehem says:

    With no family, no acquaintances and being one of two remaining graduates from the class of 1941 a letter is the last thing I expected. The other survivor is the man who stole my wife after I left for the war.”
    To my luck, he was the writer.

    “Harry,” he wrote, “I want to begin with an apology for the grief I caused you many years back.”

    He drabbled on for a bit about his life, never gave an apology, then got to his point; “I need a favor. I’m in prison.”

    “What I’m about to tell you is practically unbelievable. For the last twenty-six years I have been Santa Claus. For a hint of proof, refer to the picture of me on my 62nd birthday, the year I started. The other is of me three months back, before my arrest.”

    He looked exactly the same.

    “There’s a candy cane shaped necklace that is worn, see picture, so your biological clock stands still. You’ll remain as you are for as long as you don your gay apparel (the necklace).”

    Glad he cleared that up.

    “We’ll need to meet face to face for details. I know at eighty eight, your first concern is your lack of strength or energy. Trust me, it won’t be a problem. The only part about you that will be 88 is your appearance. Please keep reading.”

    How could I not?

    “I was arrested last Christmas for breaking and entering. Santa’s life is much different than Tim Allen portrayed it. It’s not as quaint as we were made to believe. Our parents played the role because they could. The real Santa acts only on behalf of the poor. For parents that can’t give their children a gift. (Jesus said it wasn’t the healthy that needed the doctor). Toys are made from a classified organization holding agreements worldwide with manufacturers. Everything else is pretty accurate: Reindeer, sleigh, red suit. The necklace is a key. More details later.”

    I see why he thought it was crazy.

    “The rules are strict: don’t get caught (hence my arrest), wear a bullet proof vest, etc. Enclosed are train tickets to Manassas Virginia where I am staying. I assure you, I do not need money. I need you to be Santa.”

    “If you’re asking, “why me?” There’s no one else. In twenty years I have lost all those close to me, except for my kids (banned from being Santa per rule number eight). You’re the only one left, literally.”
    “With a two year sentence, I need a replacement and to retire. I’ll know you’re interested if you show up here by the end of the month. ”

    “P.S. Rule number one, don’t tell anyone.”

    That was it. Thankfully, telling a journal is still telling myself.
    He’s right, it is crazy.
    I’m going to see him. I figure, at eighty-eight years old I got more to gain than to lose. Plus, I’ve waited seventy years to punch that old libertine right in his nose.

    • DMelde says:

      Oh no, punch Santa?! Good story. It makes me wonder what the other rules are…

    • radioPanic says:

      Great ending, nice way to pull an element from the beginning forward to close the story. Very creative take on the prompt.

      “The first rule about being Santa: Don’t talk about being Santa.”

      Sorry, couldn’t resist!

      Really enjoyed this and look forward to more.

  17. It has been almost fifteen years now sense I relocated to Regina. It seemed like the perfect place to start a new life. I had spent one whole summer here in Regina, the capital of Saskatchewan, a Canadian Prairie Providence as a kid visiting relatives. I instantly fell in love with this place that summer and swore I would return someday. They called it the land of the living skies. It was the home of the great North American Prairie Bison, it was beautiful, and it lived up to every bit of its reputation.
    It had been almost twenty three years sense I last seen or spoke with Evengalia. We were best friends growing up. but had a falling out shortly after our high school graduation. It was because of her that I was forced to take on a new Identity and move from our small New England town. It had cost me a small future to obtain new identity, a name change, new social security number, birth certificate; etc. Everything I would need to start over with a new life and new Identity.
    I was terrified and shocked looking at the name and return address in the upper left corner of the letter just delivered. It was from Evangalia. How could she have found me? No one, not even my family knew about my new Identity. I had staged my death as an attempt to escape the fate that awaited me. No one knew anything about my change of identity I thought. Yet the envelope was addressed to me under my new name. My parents; along with myself and my two siblings had died years before in a tragic accident. How could she have found out, who else knew I wondered.
    With trembling hands I opened the letter and began reading. She offered no explanation as to how she knew of my new identity, where I now lived, or why she sent this letter to my place of employment. She merely stated she was now incarcerated and had been for the past several years and was doing a fifteen year sentence for a financial scheme in which she fraudulently received more than six million dollars from at least six major U.S. banks.
    “I know I’ve caused you a lot of grief” the letter went on to say, “but there is something I need that only you can get for me. Don’t tell anyone about this.” These were the words I had feared my whole life and the reason I went into hiding. We had planned for this many years ago.
    The words our parents had given us with instructions growing up. Those were the words that meant
    a dozen sleeping dogs had been awakened and were about to wreak havoc and destruction across the United States. They were the code words that meant a declaration of war had been declared. I knew what I had to do. Evangalia had already been successful in eliminating four sleepers already before going to prison, but It was now up to me to stop the remainder of them.

    • JR MacBeth says:

      Interesting story, with potential I think. Some confusing elements for me that I was hoping would be cleared up by the end, but weren’t. Here’s one where it looked like a stock phrase got mixed up, “cost me a small future” (usually “fortune”). Not “Providence”, but “Province”. Punctuation issues. One last one to mention is what an old professor used to call “quirky capitalizations”. In this case, you capitalize various words that don’t seem to need it, like “…Prairie Providence”, “Identity” was capped twice, which made it appear to be not “just” a typo. Hope these little observations help. Again, still a creative story with some potential IMO.

      • Thanks JR, I’ve been so busy lately and have had little to no time to write anything, It’s been a struggle to get even a simple sentence or syllable written, let alone a small micro story. I just whipped this up this morning on the fly while having my morning cup of java. It is a first draft, with no editing or revision. Yes JR, any and all critique and or as you say ‘little observations’ is/are welcomed and helpful thanks.

  18. radioPanic says:

    Well, this one follows two years after the wedding prompt. Actually, last week’s, the Worst Concert Ever prompt followed the same story line too, but it spun out of control, way past 500 words, so I didn’t post it.
    ________________________________________

    I take a seat across the low table from Marty.

    He offers a bite of Ding-Dong.

    I shake my head. “So. Life here’s been good to you. Physically.”

    He leans back, chewing. “Decent gym,” he mumbles around black cake.

    I spread my hands. “Your email said you wanted me to bring you something, but not what.” I put hands on my knees. “So, since this visit’s pointless, I have a family to get back to.”

    He lifts a finger, washes down cake with Pepsi. “Know how you feel,” he says. “Lorna ain’t never brought the kids,” he says, blinking, eyes a blue left to harden and decay on a cold planet. “Miss my kids,” he says.

    My eyes narrow.

    “See… what you bring,” he says, “is strength. A certain kind of strength you can give me.”

    “Really.”

    “Strength where, f’rinstance, poison won’t kill you, just put you in…” he rolls a hand in the air. “Hibernation.”

    The back of my neck goes cold. Hadn’t heard that one.

    “Strength to… hold your breath, for a few hours, say. While you dig.”

    “What makes you—”

    “‘Cause you’re a man of God,” he says.

    I squint at him, seeing his eyes dart, seeing the reflection in the Pepsi can of a guard passing behind my chair.

    Marty leans in, voice lowered. “It’s just obvious. Lookin’ at you.”

    The chill coats my shoulders. “Why me?”

    He shrugs. “You’re in the white pages. And if anyone from school was sure to be a victim… well….” He smiles, cake pressed between teeth.

    I stand up. “Yeah, well, I’ve nothing to give you. So, if you’ll excuse me.” I turn away.

    “One more thing.”

    I turn.

    Marty lunges over the table, grabs my shoulders, plants lips over mine.

    I stagger, recoiling, getting my hands against his shoulders before it starts.

    My tongue rips free of its disguise and plunges down his throat.

    His eyes go wide, meaty lips and stubble pressed to my face.

    Shouting, from beyond a crackling, sparkling haze.

    The parasite worms up through the underside of my tongue and scrabbles for purchase inside him.

    More shouting, hands over arms, pulling. My fingers dig into his jumpsuit and my lips press harder into his. My tongue withdraws, leaving the parasite behind.

    Five sets of rough hands separate us, voices barking.

    Arms drag me toward one door, Marty toward the other. His voice punches through the buzz with a laugh. “Be seein’ ya, asshole!”

    Guards pull me, heels dragging, into the hall. Voices chatter my name.

    The heat melts under a chill that blossoms from my head down through my chest and limbs. Two years since Pete’s wedding; two years of avoiding that primitive drive.

    My feet find purchase and start moving on their own. I face a guard, stare at his moving lips, and tear my eyes away.

    The cold bursts from the last shreds of humanity within me, spilling down my back.

    I’ve finally infected another. And I’ll do it again.

    • wilson hara says:

      So well written. So many lines I love (‘life.s been good.. Physically…and if anyone from school was sure to be a victim’.. ) great story (and follow up).

    • DMelde says:

      Good creative writing. I liked the energy in this story.

      • rob akers says:

        Nice job overall. It is tough to keep a theme going from week to week and you do a nice job of keeping it going. If you can work in a little back story to keep a new reader involved that would be helpful. Something I try to do is make each story stand alone while keeping the flow of a character going. It is tough for me but you make it look easy.

        There is a novel that is similar to this written by a friend of mine. If anyone likes this story, check out: thecrossovertest.com

        • radioPanic says:

          Thank you wilson, DMelde, rob!

          Yeah, rob, the word limit kept me from including much back story. In that way, this is less of a story than a chapter in a larger story. I hope to be able to use future prompts to flesh it out, though it’s taking on a life of its own, and I’ve already got a couple more scenes written, and another simmering.

          Curious about your novel and thecrossovertest. I’ll check those out.

  19. JR MacBeth says:

    “It’s a letter. A letter from Brian Vandevier.”

    Sharon’s mouth dropped open. Years before she met her husband, he had a little girl. Vandevier brutally murdered her. Vandevier was Rob’s neighbor, a mentally retarded man cared for by his elderly parents.

    “Wrote you? He writes? Please tell me he’s still in prison!”

    “Yes, he is.”

    “Thank God! What the hell does he want?”

    Rob swallowed, holding back tears, “He says he’s found Jesus. He wants my forgiveness…for starters.”

    “Jesus?”

    “There’s more…” Rob stopped again. This would be the part he couldn’t tell his wife about. But then, there’s the last part, he could say that at least.

    “He’s getting out.”

    “What? Not possible!”

    “He had an operation…They say a brain tumor made him do it. They’re just waiting for a judge to make it official.”

    “I don’t understand? The police? They never called you?”

    “Nothing.” Rob’s head drooped forward as his wife caught him in her arms. His sobs were unstoppable now, he had to let it run it’s course.

    Sharon had many questions, but they would wait. First and foremost, the question that burned in her mind was, why an innocent person would ask for forgiveness. She continued to comfort Rob, but kept replaying the scene in her head. There must be something more going on. What else was in that letter?

    Rob had stopped now, some minutes passed. “I’m going out. Need to take a walk, think about things.”

    “Uh, OK,” Sharon said. “You want me to go with you?”

    “No, no. It’s cold out, it’ll probably rain. I won’t be gone long.” He kissed her and put on his jacket.

    Sharon watched him go out the door. Immediately she went back to find the letter, but it was gone. He must have picked it up again, although she continued looking around anyway. Something was wrong with the whole thing.

    Rob hurried down the street. It was only a few blocks away, his old house. Somehow, that idiot Vandevier managed to hide an old VCR tape of himself right after the murder, right in his old house. There were renters there now, but he would get up to the attic one way or the other.

    Thankfully, they let him in without too much trouble. Their stuff filled the attic, but there was that part of the wall, right behind…ah, ha! It’s here!

    He walked three more blocks to his mother’s house. She was the only one he knew that still had a VCR machine. He hit Play and waited.

    “Hi Robbie. I saw what you did! Why you did that? She’s not waking up… Why you put her in my basement?”

    The video panned around, showing his bloody little Lizzy. Rob cried so loud he was sure his mother would hear him. Must regain composure!

    He walked back out onto the street. Vandevier!

    “Holy shit! What the…you’re out already?”

    “I’m out Rob, and I’m not stupid anymore.”

    • wilson hara says:

      Oh! Excellent.

    • DMelde says:

      Nicely told. I liked this.

    • Wendy2020 says:

      Great last line!

      Nowadays, “mentally retarded” is considered a derogatory/offensive term. You might want to consider a different term. Not sure if the narrator is omniscient or stating what is in Sharon’s thought’s, but an if omniscient I think you need to rephrase the early paragraph. Something like: Year’s before she’d ever met her husband, Rob, his six-year old daughter had been murdered. Rob’s neighbor, Vandiever, a mentally challenged man who lived under the care of his elderly parents, had been convicted of the brutal crime.

      Wondering why Rob would live such incriminating evidence lying around, but guess criminals don’t always think of everything, do they?

      Wondering what really happened to his daughter and why. Do you have a backstory in your head? Would love to hear it.

      • JR MacBeth says:

        Thanks Wendy, and everyone else for the feedback. Wow, some things to think about.

        First I should say that In this era of PC dominance, I appreciate the fact that you could see the “offensive” usage as potentially character POV (Sharon’s), thank you for that.

        Personally, I prefer to stay away from omniscient narrative, only because it usually ends up being an intrusion on the characters and “their” story. In this case, the proto-story was larger (as usual with me!) and contained more nuance relating to the “victim” (who turned out not to be). That probably would have helped to better couch it, but I think the mere fact that a term considered so sensitive today was used in the first paragraph was already an error in my judgement. It immediately begs for a knee-jerk response from the average reader, and judgments are made, right then and there, like it or not. So again, I appreciate the feedback here very much, which is typically nonjudgemental in that sense. Good observations.

        So, I think I would perhaps make some changes, being too short of a story to fully flesh out just how depraved “Rob” is (as well as his wife, even if to a lesser extent, but he chose her for a reason, both of them thinking similarly). Rob is the guy who casually regarded Vandevier, the guy he framed, as an “idiot”. Yes, “idiot” is offensive, but at least at that point in the story, the reader was beginning to see that Rob was a real first class jerk, the usage then simply confirming the suspicion.

        The twist wasn’t merely that the apparent “victim” did the crime, but that the “mentally challenged” guy (I actually hate that term, but that’s a preference I suppose), Vandevier, was probably more of a savant, actually quite intelligent all along, the monstrous injustice done to him only magnified by that fact. Once the tumor was removed, the wheels began to turn better, and a small plot from behind prison walls could be imagined. If not with vengeance as the goal, perhaps a more noble “justice” or accounting could be hoped for by Vandevier.

        Lastly, and this probably sounds funny, but I half expected that using the name “Jesus” might cause more reaction. Looking back, I think I initially had a few more things that could have rubbed people wrong there too, but I must have edited them out, lucky for me!

        Thanks again to all for the feedback, much appreciated!

        • fbxwriter says:

          Very nice effort and interesting twist. I think you could have made the story stronger with a couple of changes. For one, I think you should have kept your POV tightly focused on Rob. When you moved the POV to Sharon, you took a step toward the omniscient narrator. You could have easily shown Sharon’s character through her actions.

          I also think Rob’s first emotion should have been fear of discovery. His tears at the beginning made me start feeling sorry for him. So, it took me a while to figure out that Rob and Sharon are depraved. Tears at the end would be useful since they could move Rob from being just a cold-hearted killer to someone with more complex feelings.

          You moved Rob around quite a bit. I don’t think you needed to. The movement distracted me. If he had been storing the videotape at his new house that would have made him seem even more depraved. I can see the need for getting a VCR machine from somewhere else, but I would think Rob would bring it back home. I don’t think he wants to be discovered. Then, rather than have Rob accidentally bump into Brian on the street, you could have Brian come to Rob’s door as he is watching the video (perhaps over and over). That could end the scene in a nice tense way.

          Lastly, I think you should have picked something besides a tumor as a cause for Brian’s problem. It seems highly unlikely that a tumor would have remained undiscovered for years. A new medical procedure to repair his condition could explain his recovery.

          Sorry to pick at your story, but I only do so because I think it’s good. A well-written story really gets my brain clicking.

          • JR MacBeth says:

            Thanks fbx, interesting feedback, for sure. I think maybe the story idea itself was flawed looking back at it. It was “too big” really to force into such a small box, at least for me to attempt it.

            I certainly failed to get across a key point, namely, that it was Vandevier, the assumed killer, who managed to make the video, and hide it, in the real killers’s attic. Sort of a “smart” thing to do (maybe too smart for him?), but when more than one reader reads it the same, it’s generally because the writing wasn’t clear enough, mea culpa. Appreciate the observation. (Possibly, having that key point in close juxtaposition to the offensive word “idiot” was problematic too, something I never would have thought of until reading the various comments.)

            As far as a brain tumor being unbelievable, I never even thought of that! This is probably a bit too autobiographical, but my brain tumor grew for over 20 years before it was discovered (after almost killing me). But, no doubt few people have any idea about the realities of brain tumors, being rather rare. Maybe truth is stranger than fiction? Just one more thing to be careful of as writers!

          • fbxwriter says:

            Wow. I stand corrected. Sorry to hear about your brain tumor, but glad it was discovered before killing you. Yes, truth is stranger than fiction. And when that happens, I think you have to spend time (and words) building credibility.

            Which brings me to your first point. I agree that the story was a lot to fit into 500 words. But that’s the beauty of these prompts. You can try challenging things and if you stumble, there’s always next week. I, too, have tried to fit too much into 500 words, but I’m beginning to learn to zero in my focus. Writing short-shorts is a challenge.

            I read back and see that you clearly stated Vandevier made the video. So, my mistake. On the second read it finally dawned on me that that’s what was in the letter that Rob didn’t read to Sharon. I didn’t catch that the first time. What I didn’t quite understand this time is why Brian hid it in Rob’s house. Was he hoping Rob would stumble across it? And why didn’t Brian just ask Rob directly, especially since he went to the trouble of hiding the video in Rob’s house.

            All these things could have been explained, but that would have taken more words.

            Here’s an interesting thought. Write this story as a single scene with just two people, Rob and Brian. They “accidentally” bump into each other in the street and have a tense conversation. That would eliminate a lot of extraneous stuff while still getting to the core of the story.

            Anyway, I still think you made a good effort.

    • jincomt says:

      I have to be honest, I cringed a bit with the “mentally retarded” label. The story seemed to perpetrate a bit of a stereotype that is out there already about people with disabilities (“He writes?”, “I’m not stupid anymore.”) I spent years working with students with disabilities, so maybe I’m a tad more sensitive about this than most folks, but not sure it adds anything significant to the story. I did like the unexpected twist of the murderer being Rob! Makes me wonder what is, as Paul Harvey said, “the rest of the story.” You did a great job building that suspense.

      • jincomt says:

        …er…make that “perpetuate”. :)

        • rob akers says:

          I like that you are willing to try big ideas. I like that you are taking chances and going for the shock factor. I am not necessarily offended by the Jesus or mentally retarded comments. Only because they are used in the story and used to describe how a fictional character’s thinks. I am offended if I hear it on the street

          Not sure if the tumor is a valid medical condition but it could be useful. When you flesh this out into a novel, I know you will research it better. I think you done good.

          • jincomt says:

            Good observation, Rob, about the difference between the terms embedded in the story context and using them conversationally in a derogatory manner. This whole thing has triggered a cascade of thoughts for me. I’m glad people on here are gutsy enough to try things that challenge me!

  20. Flight says:

    The letter smelled sweet, penned neatly on a standard sheet of college rule paper, not at all what you would expect coming from a prison. Such an usual request, he has a lot of nerve asking for a favor after what went down. I vowed to never forgive him, but let’s be honest, that really isn’t really in my nature. He knows that too. Just because it is in my nature to forgive doesn’t mean that I forget. Still something about his tone, his earnestness, hits a chord. This letter cannot be dismissed. The tone is uncharacteristically desperate.
     
    We had gone backpacking together in our senior year of high school, long before his life started spiraling. The air in the remote wilderness had made us feel alive and free. High school was over and we were embarking on a new adventure. We were so naïve, thinking that life would always remain so carefree. Every step along the path brought new mysteries. Vivid red Indian Paintbrush, green False Flower, the rich blue of the mountain lakes. It felt good to be free. We had picked a route on the topographic map but the destination was far from known. We camped in a clearing off the main path near little rock lake. The mosquitoes so thick we spent most of the evening zipped into our thin skinned tent in the company of playing cards.
     
    Remembering back I thought nothing of it when he stepped out of the tent after dark into the cool night air, the full moon rendering the landscape in a pale but clear light. I understand now why he went out for a walk. He went to hide what he was asking for now, a smooth purple stone. The stone represented every bruised and painful memory he had ever desired to forget, and found a way to do so. The stone, which was now buried in the ground, was much of what made him a person. He had hoped to forget the past but in the process forgot who he was. He realized that now and needed the stone back. The memories difficult to face, but urgently needed. Touching the stone now I understood. Losing his humanity had come at too high a cost.

  21. quiqui says:

    I sat in my cubicle staring across the partition at the candy bowl full of peanut M&Ms sitting on the receptionist’s desk. Audrey always kept candy on her desk. I was puzzled that someone who couldn’t open an email attachment had somehow managed this ingenious set up. Luring unsuspecting office mates with the promise of tasty treats only to trap them and gossip about her daughter-in-law. I resigned myself to a peanut M&M free day and returned to my inbox.

    There a new email marked confidential from m.mcguffin@kingpen.com caught my eye. “McGuffin?” I thought. “The only McGuffin I know is Mark and he’s in prison for… Mark’s at Kingston Penitentiary!” An email from prison! This was wonderful. I opened the email from my ex-boyfriend.

    “Hi Sarah,
    I don’t know how much you know, or if you’ve ever forgiven me for what happened in grade 10, but I really need your help. You’re the only person I know who can get this for me…”

    “No way!” I gasped. Audrey was gone! She wasn’t at her desk! I peeked over the partition, looked left, looked right, and looked left again. No sign of her! Now was my chance. I sprung up from my chair and near sprinted the short span of space that separated me from the peanut M&Ms.

    No sooner had my fingers touched the bowl did my eyes widen in fear. There bent over her desk, picking up paper clips from the floor, was Audrey. It was too late. As my fingers displaced the peanut M&Ms the quiet tinkle of that damned candy coating trumpeted my arrival. Immediately my central nervous system sounded the alarm, fight or flight? At the sound of the M&Ms, or my heart stopping, Audrey’s predatory instincts kicked in and she bolted straight up and smiled that big toothy, receptionist smile.

    “Oh hi! I swear if I didn’t have those M&Ms you’d never drop by to chat.” The string pulled taut, the box fell, and I was trapped.

    “Peanut M&Ms,” I corrected. “Shut up!” I thought. “Don’t engage. Evasive maneuvers.” “I am really busy today…” I stammered, stuffing more peanut M&Ms in my mouth. “Just needed a little sugar to keep me going.”

    “Oh, no. You have a minute,” Audrey stated with certainty. “I have to tell you about Jennifer, my D, O, L, daughter-in-law? She is NO doll, let me tell you. Do you know what she did last week to Chris? Blah, blah, hotdog, blah… ”

    As she rambled on about how horrible DOL was and how Chris should have married his high school girlfriend, Rita, I was reminded of my email from Mark.

    “Audrey,” I gasped, peanut M&M shrapnel flying from my mouth, “I completely forgot! I have an email from prison!”

    “Prison?” Obviously hurt and noticeably sceptical she said, “Go then. Go to your prison email,”

    I thought, as I emptied the bowl of peanut M&Ms and returned to the safety of my cubby, “Mark, now we’re even.”

    • Wendy2020 says:

      Hmmm, I do not know how they are even? Because he left her waiting when she needed him, and now she left him waiting? She’s more into Audrey and M&Ms than she is into the email? Would like some insight into what your thoughts were when writing this.

      • quiqui says:

        My thought was to use the email as a “McGuffin” to give Sarah a way out of the conversation with Audrey. The “now we’re even.” is intended to be interpreted by the reader as they see fit, so your interpretation is bang-on. Just a fun little piece. (I think)
        Thanks for reading it and providing your input .

  22. aksarben60 says:

    The floor was cold, hard yet soft with dirt and stank of urine. Paul sat on the ground, legs outstretched and head tilted back as it rested on the bumpy stone wall, which also stank of urine. His eyes were closed but he knew there was light; a sliver of light which shone through the small window 20 feet high on the south wall of his Turkish prison cell.

    He didn’t much care about the smell or the uncomfortable floor which made his tail bone sear with pain. All he cared about was getting his thoughts into a semblance which represented how he felt. This much he knew: his persecutions of Jesse had lead to life-altering epiphany. That sight-losing, heart-changing divination and subsequent leadership role, lead him to this prison, which wouldn’t be his last.

    When they were younger, Paul had ridiculed Jesse; mocked him and all he stood for. Jesse’s beliefs were new, radical and went against nearly everything Paul had been taught. He had thrown rocks at Jesse when they were in grade school and through high school, even into their young adult years, he’d pummeled Jesse with hateful smears and derogatory remarks. Essentially, Paul was a bully; a big bully. Now, he rested his eyes and mind in an unforgiving place after having been captured by the Turkish army and brought up on charges for crimes he didn’t commit. “Crimes” of faith which the Turks believed impeded on their way of life; crimes which may end up getting him hanged.

    They’d allowed him a small piece of what looked like ancient papyrus as well as a writing implement and inkwell. He wasn’t sure how to write his thoughts to Jesse and he wasn’t even sure how Jesse would know how Paul felt, but he had faith and he wrote:

    Grace be with you, Jesse. I pray that you are well. I realize how cruel I was to you; “cruel”, that’s not even the right word. “Unforgivable, reprehensible persecution” is more appropriate. What I ask of you, dear Jesse, is that you forgive me.

    I know it was you who blinded me so that I could see the light and the way. I trust you fully with everything that I am and I intend on speaking of you to everyone I meet! I can only ask this of you, Jesse, as only you can do it.

    Please, I ask you keep this between us as I want this forgiveness to be our bond. In faith, I am truly yours.

    Love,
    Paul

    I knew Paul’s heart and knew he would eventually come to me on his own accord. What he didn’t know is that I had long since forgiven him. But, he needed to know I had forgiven him so that he would be able to move forward in his journey with strength and love. His journey would prove to be trying, agonizing and long.

    In a short note, I wrote, “Paul, I forgive you. Know that I will always be with you.”

  23. DMelde says:

    Father Ryan rolled to a stop in his rusty, light blue Chevy fifty feet from the prison’s main gate, and peered out through the windshield. Thick fog swirled upward, and although it was late morning the light was dim, as if it were already sunset. The car sat surrounded by a mix of light and dark shadows, with dark gray trees barely visible in the distance. Guard towers rose up black on each side of the iron gate, and stood in contrast to the dull gray sky. Guards were dark silhouettes rhythmically walking back and forth high up along the wall. It seemed like all color had abandoned this dismal place. Father Ryan prayed that hope had not deserted it as well.
    Inside, the prison looked no better. Dank cold chilled the air. Faded lime green walls showed dirty white where the old paint had peeled away. Father Ryan was taken to a small bleak room, and he was ordered to sit on the left side of the table. Into the room, guards escorted a prisoner shackled by chains. They sat him on the right side, and padlocked him to the floor. One guard remained in the room when the others left. He stood away from the table, over by the door.
    “Ryan thanks for coming.” the prisoner said, “Or should I say, Father Ryan now.”
    The prisoner tried laughing but choked and coughed instead, a prolonged cough that left him shaking afterwards. A tube led from his nose to an oxygen tank, helping to keep him alive, for now. He looked too old for a man so young, but living hard had caught up to him.
    “Hello Eddie.” Father Ryan said. “How are you doing?”
    “They give me six months to live.” Eddie replied. He doubled over in a coughing fit again. “Did you see her? Did you talk to my mom?”
    “I saw her. She looked well.”
    “What did she say? You didn’t tell my dad, did you?”
    “I didn’t see your dad, just your mom. She told me to tell you—“
    Father Ryan paused. This was hard for him to say.
    “She said she can’t come to see you. That you died to her a long time ago. She said her heart can’t take anymore heartache. I’m sorry Eddie.”
    Eddie bowed his head, and the chair creaked mournfully underneath his thin, wasted body.
    “Well,” Eddie finally said, “that’s that.”
    “Eddie, you wrote to me instead of your mom. Why?”
    “I figured she wouldn’t read it from me. You treated me right in school, even after I treated you wrong. Now you’re a priest. I figured she might listen to you.”
    “Write to her. I’ll deliver it.”
    “It’s too late.” Eddie said.
    “You have six months. Tell her you don’t blame her for what your father did to you. Tell her you know it wasn’t her fault.”
    “I don’t know.” Eddie said as he looked down at the floor. The chair creaked.

    • jincomt says:

      Very poignant. You have a wide range of styles. I’ve read prompts from you that were humorous and serious, like this one. Will you expand on this idea? Seems lime there’s a background story waiting to be told.

      You did a great job showing the feelings without stating them outright. I also liked how you wrote from the prompt without rehashing it. Well done.

    • fbxwriter says:

      Nice take on the prompt. I like your imagery, but I’m willing to bet you could trim that first paragraph down and still get the feeling across. Your writing is good, but it takes a while to get to meat of the story.

      I like all the unanswered questions: What did Eddie do to Ryan in school? What did Eddie’s father do to him? What disease does Eddie have? They add tension to the story without being distracting. You keep your focus on the characters and their interaction, which is what makes it a strong effort.

      • DMelde says:

        Thanks fbx. You’re right, I am long winded, and I could have used the extra words to describe Eddie’s actions at the end (that I edited). That would have been a good idea. You didn’t mention the big unanswered question (no reason you would have to) that I was trying to end with, which was, what did Eddie mean at the end when he said “I don’t know”. He didn’t know whether to write to his mom? or He didn’t know whether his mom was at fault? I should have written that out more. :) Thanks for the feedback.

        • fbxwriter says:

          I like the way you ended your piece. I like how things are left hanging and unanswered, especially that last question of what Eddie is really saying. I think it works.

    • JR MacBeth says:

      Great dialogue DMelde, but a bit of an abrupt ending! But it’s a good thing when the reader wants more, right?

    • Icabu says:

      Great story – definitely left me wishing for a higher word count.

  24. fbxwriter says:

    THE LAST LAUGH

    (500 words)

    Jordy smiled as he hung his jacket on the Flippin’ the Finger Coat hook. Every day he tried to do a good deed, but since following through with the Big Forgiveness, he had an extra spring in his step.

    As he unpacked a box of Squirting Flowers, Jordy thought about how that letter from Dick Santori had surprised him. Dick and his gang had terrorized Jordy throughout high school. Graduation finally came and Jordy took over a booming real estate business from his dying father. Dick had surprised everyone by becoming a successful investment consultant. When Dick came to Jordy with a deal to earn 50 percent in six months AND pool his money with the Governor, Jordy had decided to forgive the bully and invest.

    Jordy had been devastated when Dick’s investment deal was revealed as a Ponzi scheme. Even worse, Jordy had used the earnings to leverage more real estate deals. When it all came crashing down, Jordy had bankrupted his father’s business. Still, at the trial he publicly vowed to forgive the contrite Dick, who had been sent to the Devil’s Patch Penitentiary with a 30-year sentence. It doesn’t pay to screw the Governor.

    So, Jordy was surprised when he got the letter from Dick apologizing for the grief he had caused and asking for a favor. Jordy had opened Jordy’s Jokes in the aftermath of the bankruptcy. Now he was bringing joy to people everyday, which was much better than dealing in heartless real estate.

    Dick’s request had been simple if odd: “There’s something I need that only you can get for me. Don’t tell anyone about this.”

    At first Jordy had balked, but then he remembered his public vow of forgiveness. He had been proud of that act of humility.

    Besides, all Dick had wanted were simple novelty items to lighten life in prison. Apparently, the Governor was making life miserable for Dick and those around him. It took some doing, but Jordy was able to get the package sent through a friend who cleaned laundry for the prison. Now Jordy could imagine the joy being spread by his simple gifts. He had proved he had truly forgiven Dick. That was enough, really, but Jordy wondered if the newspaper could somehow reveal the news. That would bring joy to others, and that was what drove Jordy, he wanted everyone’s day a little brighter.

    The Gas Clock farted 10 times. Jordy scooped his keys from the Severed Hand and unlocked the front door, happy to start a new day.

    Sid greeted Jordy from his newsstand.

    “Paper?” asked Sid.

    “C’mon,” said Jordy, smiling. “You know I find the news too depressing.”

    “Not this one,” Sid said. “You’ll love the top story. Some inmates broke out of Devil’s Patch using a bunch of novelty items like itching powder, exploding cigarettes, and squirting flowers. It’s hilarious!”

    Jordy stared at the paper in Sid’s hand.

    “Here. The paper’s on me,” said Sid, tossing it to Jordy. “It’ll lighten your day.”

  25. mariascharmed says:

    assaultymcnulty , i enjoyed that. Clever.

  26. laurentravian says:

    My life was going perfectly. I had just landed my dream job, with a big salary, and I was pretty sure I was going to be proposed to that night. I skipped to the mailbox. Bill, junk mail, ancient birthday card from Grandma that just arrived, my eyes jumped to the PRISON MAIL letter in my hand. I carried my hoard of mail back to the house, and immediately opened it. PUNK, it read (I frowned. Something familiar…) I AM NOW IN JAIL. WAS ORIGINALLY PUT ON TRIAL FOR VANDALISM. NOW AM IN BIG TROUBLE FOR PISSING OFF JUDGE WITH MY BIG GROUP OF JOKES. I DO NOT KNOW WHAT A GROUP OF JOKES IS BECAUSE I ALWAYS HAD YOU DO MY BIOLOGY HOMEWORK, REMEMBER??? HAHAHAHA (I snapped my fingers. Of course! BJ Lauderdale. My first boyfriend. The school bully.) OKAY, NOW I AM SERIOUS. I AM ABOUT TO BE INCARCERATED. I JUST NEED TO TELL ONE REALLY FUNNY JOKE. THEY WILL GIVE ME A PHONE CALL. PLEASE GIVE ME YOUR NUMBER. IF YOU DO THIS, I WILL GIVE YOU WHATEVER YOU WANT. EVEN A DATE. EVEN MARRIAGE. ANYTHING! LOVE BJ. I put down the letter, and passed my hand over my eyes. Suddenly, Antonio was home. “How was your day, handsome?” I asked, kissing him. “Good. Better now. And yours, beautiful?” “I got an ancient birthday card, and a letter…” He sat me down. “Lily, what was in that letter?” He asked sternly. He is very protective of me. I handed it to him. He quickly scanned it and said, “No.” I looked up at him.”No?” I asked hopefully. He nodded. “Because BJ Lauderdale just got released. And I was his lawyer. And that’s how he knows our address. But beautiful, you aren’t going to see him. He was arrested for public nudity, and for trying to get a waitress to have sex with him. I know what will happen if he sees you. And anyway, I have a question for you.” “Yes?” I said expectantly. “Will you marry me?” “Of course, baby.” BJ showed up two days later, as drunk as possible. He is now serving 10 years for trespassing. I told you Antonio was protective of me.

  27. zo-zo says:

    Something was wrong with Annie Samuel.

    I could see through the frail print, leaving no spaces for the letters to breathe, and the deep scratches littering the page. Annie Sam, the girl who distinguished herself in the classroom through her impeccable cursive, the girl who distinguished herself in the girls bathroom by singing the loudest on the toilet.

    Our friendship ended with one of those bathroom songs. I cut a jagged line in her hair, from her scalp to her loose ends. For good reason. In a jealous rage she’d just sung a song that spilled all Nick DuPlessis and my secrets – in front of all the girls in our grade. The bathroom door slammed as I left, the wisps of her glossy hair scattered over the tiles.

    We hadn’t spoken since.

    I held the letter in my hand. Pink lipstick marks stained the envelope, just like when we were in grade 7 where everything – books, assignments and even chocolate wrappers – was covered in smudges. The letter inside the envelope displayed no pink dreams.

    Maybe that’s why I wiped my tears and bitterness away that crisp October morning and raced to the shops. I bought her gift, and arrived at the prison in my pink truck in record time.

    I hadn’t scheduled a visit, but as long as the guard was straight, that’d be fine. He was. He grinned at me, stumbling over his words as he apologised. It devastated him that I’d have to wait a couple of minutes for them to organise a room.

    ‘You are so kind,’ I said, staring into his eyes. The piece of paper flapped in his hand as he blinked back at me.

    In exactly seven minutes I sat opposite Annie in a sterile room that had once been white. It stank of cheap floor cleaner. Annie’s dark hair was peroxided, dangling in her eyes. She put her head in her hands and started to cry.

    ‘I didn’t want anyone to see me like this,’ she said, her scrawny body shaking with sobs. ‘Especially not Nikki. I feel like I’ve abandoned my baby-’

    I never thought I’d see the day when Annie Samuel crumbled into defeat, let alone allow someone to witness it. I held that girl in my arms and squeezed so hard she was in danger of snapping. Eventually her tears turned to whimpers.

    ‘Shhh,’ I said, like her mother would have if she was still alive. ‘I brought the book.’

    Annie’s eyes widened, the first sign of life. ‘Really?’

    I nodded, grabbing the Dr Seuss book from my suede leather handbag. I started reading.

    ‘Oh the places you’ll go,’ I started, steadying my voice. ‘Congratulations! Today is your day! You’re off to great places! You’re off and away!’

    After I’d finished, she stared out the window for a long time. The room was perfectly silent.

    ‘I’m getting released in a month,’ she said to her hands, ‘and I wanted to start a new story.’

    • Wendy2020 says:

      Interesting. I can’t tell if the narrator will be pleased or not with this news? And the child named Nikki. Is the father, Nick? Or does she just name her after Nick, a long lost love that she could never have so she made sure her friend couldn’t either.

      My favorite line is the letters not having room to breathe. I can totally take in the emotion of a person who writes like that.

      Only thing I might is to give the narrator a name, maybe through Annie’s dialogue? I think it would help the reader attach to her?

      But one of the best stories I have read here.

    • JR MacBeth says:

      Some great visuals here, from the pink truck, to the suede handbag. Not sure about the singing on the toilets, but could be, I’ve never been in the girls’s bathroom!

  28. ggbrown says:

    HolyCrap! A letter from President Bush from inside prison. I guess they finnaly got him on all those charges of genocide.

    Let me see what it says; and how does he know my address?

    Dear Chris, I know i caused you alot of grief in highschool, but
    as you can see from the letter head and all the news reports they got me.
    The reason im writing you is i remember that in those days that you were somewhat of a rebel.
    Not sure if you are still a man of those means, but i need something and i can get you something in return.
    This is opportunity knocking, will you answer? This is what i need. In an old burned out bus where we use to play i placed a box that i received from a man that told me , if i burried the box i could be anything that i wanted. So i burried the box and wished to be president. Obviously it worked to my surprise.
    This mysterious man said if i ever got into trouble i could dig up this box read the note inside and something would happen that would help me.

    Immediately Chris thought,”If i dig up that box the note is mine”.

    The letter continues, “do not read the note, place it an envelope, send it back to me and i will make sure that you get a ticket to a place where someone will meet you. They will give you something for your trouble. It will be well worth your trouble.
    Signed George W Bush.

    Chris thinks that the prison officials, the FBI, and probably every law enforcment officer from here to kingdom come have all read this letter from the pres and are waiting for me to do what it says.

    Luckily Chris has all his mail forwarded to his workplace, so maybe they didnt trace it there. Chris goes to look out the window and does’nt see anything suspicious.

    He leaves his job and goes directly to the old bus. He knows where to look because the hiding place was where they would hide their drugs.

    Chris finds the box ,opens the note, reads the note. The not simply said,”Make a wish”.

    He wishes for a billion dollars, turns around and theres a man standing there in a black suit, glowing blue skin, and an umbrella.

    Stunned by the starnge man, Chris drops the note and begins to run in the opposite direction, and there stands the strange man in his path.

    Chris says, ” what the fuck do you want” in a horrified way.

    The blue man says,” You made the wish that opened the door and i am here to help you”.

    :”Help me what?”

    “To help u get whatever you want”

    “Ok, what the fuck is the door, where does it lead, and why didnt George ask you that?’

    “The door is the other realm, would you like to go?”

    “George got what he wanted Chris. What do you want?”

    Chris says,” I want to live in the other realm.”

    The blue man says,” You cant, but i can help you in this one.”

    “ok”, Chris says, “help me what?”

    “Help you to get what u want. What do u want?”

    Chris says, “look brother, i’ve been trying to figure out what I want for 37 years; still have’nt figured it out. Maybe thats what you can do. Tell me what I want?”

    The blue man begins to slowly fade, and with his fading the sky begins to dim, and with the sky dimming, the ground begins to shake, and with the ground shaking the note begins to burn, and with the note burning, the minds of all the worlds in all the galaxies in all the universe begin to be at peace in he knowledge that Chris is God and peace is here.

    As the world begins to calm, the knowledge of all things enter into the mind of the first living God.

    Chris speaks from his knowing and says, “George deserves to be in prison.”

    The End

  29. slayerdan says:

    It was a hot August day in Florida. The light beat it in through the blinds, telling me I fell asleep in the office again. My mouth was dry and my neck felt like some two bit wrestler had twisted it the wrong way. It was 10 am and I needed a drink.

    That was happening a lot lately.

    I pulled myself from my office chair and there was a solid rap on the door.

    That wasn’t happening a lot lately.

    “Who is it?” I growled, perturbed my post sleep ritual of Jack and Coke had been postponed.

    For a few seconds anyway.

    “ Courier—got a certified letter for Jack Slade,” came the petite female voice that didn’t seem to match the preceding knock on the door. But that voice—it was female.

    And Jack Slade isn’t known for not letting a woman in, long as she wasn’t packing. Or an ex wife.

    I grabbed my desk bottle and threw back 3 quick gulps and wet my hands with the rest, slicking my hair back. Women love a man with whiskey drenched hair.

    I opened the door and the rest of the days light assaulted me. There stood that petite voice, outstretched hand with a yellow envelope. And petite she was.Big innocent smile and perky boobs that Jack Slade had a fondness for.

    “Rough morning sir?” she asked. She didn’t know the half of it.

    “Who is it from?” I asked, taking a bead on her brown eyes and breast meat.

    “From the prison upstate I think,” she answered quickly. She had obviously looked. Of course she had.

    She was a woman.

    My interest piqued, I slid her my last 4 bucks and shut the door. I got the courier company name first. And hers.

    I opened the enclosed letter bottom first. I always started at the bottom it seemed.

    Life’s funny like that.

    I smelled a familiar scent. Lilies. Last time I smelled lilies that strong…

    It was from Tams McGee. She had legs from the floor to the ceiling and a fair amount of breast meat herself. Burgundy hair to her shoulders and lips that a man would kill for.

    Just trust me on that one.

    I hadn’t seen her in 25 years. We had been close in school, but after…well she took to chasing after pilots and I took to chasing after….well just chasing it seems. Seems I may have did a might better, her in prison and all..

    Course, there are all kinds of prisons.

    The letter was short, and sweet. Just opposite of the leggy hotness that was Tams. She apologized for disappearing all those years ago.

    Funny, usually I did the apologizing.
    She wanted forgiveness. Said she was doing a life stretch for killing some pilot that dumped her. Said she was trying to make right with all the people she had ever wronged.

    Funny how when you get all hemmed up, you wanna fix it with all the people you wronged.

    I sat down and read the letter again.

    Forgiveness?

    I could do that. No harm there.

    Right after another drink. And a call to that courier service…

  30. oceanjewel says:

    Today, you believe, is just like any other day. You get out of bed, take a shower, have a quick cup of coffee that, in your hurry, always tends to taste somewhat like hot dishwater. Then, you bring in the mail before heading out to work. You quickly shuffle through the pile before you thinking, “Bill, bill, neighbor’s mail, bill, letter from federal prison.” Your morning race comes to a screeching halt. You open the letter to discover it’s from Robert Blade. THE Robert Blade. Your reason for 5 years of therapy. Yes, that Robert Blade. With trembling hands you hold the letter before you and begin to read.

    He apologizes for causing you the years of anxiety you have had. He knows you would be better off not hearing from him. He tells you, however, that he has to contact you because you are the only person who can help him now. “Mike, I have been in prison for 12 years now for a crime I didn’t commit. You know I couldn’t have done it and only you know why.”

    You try to maintain your composure as you consider various the ways of handling this situation. You could throw away the letter and make an emergency phone call to your therapist, write him back telling him to shove it or you could help him out. Couldn’t you?

    You sit at your kitchen table and think back. You were just 16 years old. You didn’t know what you were doing. No one taught you right from wrong. You made a . . . mistake. It was about that time that you met Rob. He quickly became your confidante. You shared everything with him as he did with you. Somewhere along the line he turned on you though. He began pushing you to turn yourself in. It was a MISTAKE! Why should you throw away your life because of it? When he told you it was more than a mistake it sent shivers down your spine. He really did know you. And he knew you wouldn’t be able to live with the guilt. So, he made the ultimate sacrifice and went for you. And THAT guilt has been eating you alive for years.

    You pick up the letter and read on. “Please, Mike, you know I don’t exist. You know you created me in order to deal with the chaos you unleashed in your mind when you killed that man. I did not commit this crime. You did. It’s time Mike. Turn yourself in and set me free.”

    You bury your face in your hands and finally take the time to make a decent cup of coffee. You savor every sip. Then, you reach for your keys, get into your car and head to the police station.

    • MCKEVIN says:

      One day I am going to write something like this. One day. This was good. I mean really good. I was totally engaged until the “does not exist” was revealed. I wished you had taken me somewhere else because you had me going seriously. Overall, I loved it and I hope you write more of these. Good job. Love Love Loved it!

      • Wendy2020 says:

        I agree with McKevin. It is well written and interesting (in a really good way, interesting), but you lost with the “I don’t exist”. Is he not even really reading a letter?

        What made you choose to write in second person? It was unsusual and made your story very different.

        Good writing and good job.

        • oceanjewel says:

          Thank you for the comments. Perhaps I would have gone a different way or stretched it out without the word limit. Yet, yes, I was trying to convey that Robert Blade did not really exist and it’s up to you whether or not the letter really did. Maybe he wrote it and doesn’t know it. Maybe this is all in his imagination. I have to admit I didn’t like outright saying “I don’t exist” but I wasnt sure how else to show that Mike was alone. There was no Robert. After he had committed a murder he basically created someone to talk to. No one actually went to prison and he’s tried to spend the past years keeping busy to try and forget what happened. Some part of his mind wouldn’t let this happen anymore and he knew he had to turn himself in. At least this is what I was trying to convey. If anyone has any suggestions as to how they would have handled it I would be more than happy to hear them. This is why I am here. Until these writing prompts I have written next to nothing creatively for years. Any feedback I get (positive or negative) is gold to me.

          I opted for write in second person as an experiment. The only story I have read that used second person was “Until Gwen” by Dennis Lehane. I thought it was a pretty unique way to write. Something different than the “I said, she said, etc”. It drew me into the story in a totally different way because it made you feel like an active participant in the story. I may try this tense again in a future prompt.

          • wilson hara says:

            The 2 nd person I’ m not too familiar with ( will try to find until Gwen) but anyway, it sets up the mood for dissociation well and who knows why people with mental issues do the things they do (always fascinating. And sad.). I think your story was well done and tricky!

          • MCKEVIN says:

            Hi again Oceanjewel, I honestly don’t know how you could have conveyed all you wanted to convery. But I still love the story. Also, if you go back and read some of the prior prompts there is a writer named Amy, and she writes everything in second person. You two definitely have a gift being able to do what you do. Take care and I’ll see you at the forum.
            McKevin

    • assaultymcnulty says:

      I like this…good premise. 2nd person is tough but it works in this piece.

  31. kapman33 says:

    I was minding my own business one day, just relaxing watching TV when the phone rang. I answered, “Hello?” The voice I heard on the other end was one I hadn’t heard in many, many years. At first I was very taken aback, seeing as how this was not a voice I was very fond of or remember in a good way. In fact it was the voice of a man I didn’t particulary care for.
    “Is this Michael?” the voice asked. “Who is calling?” was my reply.
    “It’s Peter Jones, from Yale,” the man answered.
    “Wow, blast from the past,” I responded. “What can I do for you?” I asked.

  32. Erick Jacobs says:

    My secretary met me at my office door. She held an envelope in her hand, and had a rather vexing look about her. It was one that eerily reminded me of my wife.
    “Care to explain this letter postmarked from the Santa Viela prison?” She asked rather fervently. Even sounding like my wife. The short pause, while my challenged brain scanned old memories, did nothing to absolve me from her gaze. I gave up.
    “Sorry, don’t have a clue.” I said with the utmost conviction. “Who’s it from anyhow?”
    “Don’t know, didn’t open it. It’s a federal offense need I remind you.” She held it out; I grabbed it, “And you will let me know if this is something I need to be worried about? Jobs are hard to come by nowadays.” She said with a smile and headed off to do whatever she does.
    Still befuddled, I plopped my bag on the floor and the letter on the desk. I sat in my chair, staring, uneasy. Remarkable how the writer tracked me down, and why would I be so important that the writer felt the need to reach out? What weaves of intrigue are held within? Someone’s sob-story I imagine – oh poor me. Someone’s attempt at making amends or, better yet, someone’s declaration of vengeance – should that suit you all the better.
    “Meeting time!’ Addison bellowed from the doorway.
    I jumped, don’t know why really.
    “Well what’d it say?” She asked.
    “Nosey are we, well I haven’t gotten around to reading it yet.” I replied
    “No, really, what have you been doing the past two hours?” She asked, with a hint of agitation.
    “You know…my usual routine.” I said rather unconvincingly.
    She handed over my folder and had that look again.
    “I’ll dig into it after the budget meeting.” I nodded.
    James Pinny wasn’t someone I’d call a friend, but not someone I’d call a stranger. He was long-haired, lanky, and fairly articulate, which seemed oddly contrasting after reading his letter. Two life sentences for homicide wasn’t what I expected. Unsure what I expected now that I think about it. The letter continued.
    I paused. I had all but forgotten about that week. James was still after an old pocket watch my cousin had given me before she shipped out to Kuwait. James and Dana dated a while, but she broke it off when she enlisted. He then became the poster child for “stalking 101”.
    Anyhow, to make a long story short he threatened, I threatened, we scuffled, he vandalized and things went too far. Eventually, police rounded him up. He landed at Tate psych hospital for six months, then juvi for another six.
    Disturbingly, he mentioned repeatedly he and the pocket watch are one in the same – he can still hear its ticks, his heart. He needs the watch to become whole again.
    “Line one, Thomas!” Addison blared.
    I thought and sighed.
    Pulling the watch from my pocket, I fed the shredder, and answered the phone.

    • assaultymcnulty says:

      I like your descriptions and style…I’m a little confused abou the watch…if he destroys the watch will James die?? Also got confused by the Juvie part. Was he a minor then??

      • Erick Jacobs says:

        Many thanks and, yes, that was the overall image is was attempting to convey in the flashback. The importance of the request and the bitterness of the rebuke.

  33. Harriet Berg says:

    I received your letter yesterday. I must tell you I was surprised to hear from you, especially at my office. How in the world did you find out where I worked? I was very sad and disappointed to hear about your conviction and prison sentence. I thought much higher of you when we were in high school and I never would have thought you would have been involved in something like that crime.

    I wonder how your family is getting along. Your wife was such a lovely girl in school. And I’m sure your three children are quite handsome and smart. Does she have a job that can support them and put money away for their college, too? Do you think she enjoys sleeping alone? Or is she? Don’t you feel the least bit ashamed that by being involved in that crime you have shirked your responsibility to all of them? And how do the children explain to their friends why their father is in prison? Do their former friends’ parents still allow them to associate? Your behavior affects so much more than you ever thought about, I’m sure.

    What about you? I’m quite sure you’ve made some friends who are “less than desirable” during the time you’ve been in there. One of them probably had the contacts that got you the information on how to reach me at work. Fine friends! Good for your future!

    And did you cause me trouble? Oh, yes, indeed! All those rumors about us! And you, the only one who could squelch them, did nothing! I was so glad to finish high school and leave all those kids behind who believed those lies. I don’t know how you ever talked that sweet girl into marrying you. You must have had some kind of line and she must have been terribly gullible. Or pregnant. Or both.

    Which brings me up to now. I’m sure you know I finished college, and even got my Master’s degree. I have a fine job, which pays me well. You have some idea of what I do, I’m sure, since your “friends” found my contact information. No, I’m not returning your letter from my workplace or on company time. I wouldn’t dream of it. I would not ever want my name connected with yours. And as to your request to not tell anyone? How could that not smell of something illegal, with your history?

    You say that I am the only one who can help you. I guess that means you won’t be getting any help because my answer is an unequivocal “NO!” There is no way that I will do anything for you.

    I am looking forward to not hearing from you again. I shall report this request to my immediate superiors at work, so that they know you have contacted me. You will not jeopardize me at work or anywhere else. You see, I, too, have new “friends” who will help me.

  34. wilson hara says:

    AAAH! Mistakes everywhere…. and supposed to say ‘neither MARI, nor her parents..” not NAOKO!!! (Naoko is my friend and she keeps popping up in my stories, unasked.)

    • jincomt says:

      As always, I love your stories and your writing. Are you published?

      As for mistakes,pffffff negligible. I call my weekly contributions a written version of “where’s Waldo”: at least one or two mistakes are bound to show up, unbidden and unwanted in my stories, no matter how many times I proof read. It’s always a challenge: find my mistakes in the crowd of words. They’re there, probably well dressed in a red and white striped sweater with horn-rimmed glasses.

      • ggbrown says:

        thouroughly enjoyed the story, couldnt keep up with some of those big words though! i wish i could write so well. i will keep trying , thank you

        • wilson hara says:

          Yes they’re a mouthful! Obligatory formality, I can live with but Execution for desertion!. Why not just plain execution? Glad you enjoyed the story!

          • rob akers says:

            Just a wonderful story. I echo everything written so far. I love your mastery of the English language and how you weave in the beautiful Japanese culture. We are all students at your feet. I bow in honor to you.

    • JR MacBeth says:

      Wilson, I very much enjoy your stories about the Japanese culture. There is another who posts here, sharing about life in Africa. I personally think it’s refreshing to poke our heads out of our English / American universe now and again and look at things from another perspective. Keep up the good work!

  35. wilson hara says:

    okay, a quick note. In Japan it is important to cremate and bury the dead, from there the dead have 49 days before they go Over There, let’s call it Heaven. A recent example : after the tsunami, people were unable to locate the bodies of the dead, leading to despair for many reasons. It is good for the body to be intact. Ghosts are often depicted as having no feet.

  36. wilson hara says:

    Many years ago, one of my best friends broke my heart when he stated dating the girl I loved. After graduation, I left Japan to study medicine in Germany and once in a while, my mother would write with news from home and to tell me a little bit about the girl. ‘Mari is engaged to Akihiro.’ ‘She is married,’ … ’Expecting her first child…’

    And now, my old friend’s letter has been forwarded by my parents to the Kobe Imperial Hospital, where I am trying to deal with an outbreak of cholera. Carefully, I place his letter in my pocket and continue my rounds. Finally, I go outside to escape the stink and read my letter in private.

    April 1945

    Satoshi,

    Old friend.
    It is with trepidation that I write you this letter. I do not have the time for the obligatory formality so I will say this : I hope that the war has not been too hard on you and your family. You have probably heard by now that my crime was desertion. I have brought dishonor on my family. What they do not know is that on the day I decided to run, I tried to get to the south side of Okinawa and managed about 2 miles before General Ito and his men caught me. Ito was furious, and told me to start digging, which I did, all the while thinking that he would shoot me and it would be over. But this was not so, he got the men to bind my hands and feet. He lifted his sword up and brought it down expertly on my ankles, amputating my feet cleanly off. He told the men that from now on this is what would happen to deserters. Our company doctor ran to my side and started to bandage my wounds as best he could all the while saying “this is too much.” Ito threw my feet in the hole. They are buried near Yomitan Village; if you face the sea, with the castle directly behind you, to the left there is a palm tree and near that tree is the hole. Like I said, neither Naoko, nor my parents know about this, I wished to spare them this, they know only that I face execution for desertion.

    It’s funny, I have never thought about God as such but now that death is coming…what I am trying to say is: I wish to walk over There, to the Kingdom of Heaven and ask Him for forgiveness. I am not afraid of dying, and conveniently, I do not believe in Hell. I am, however, afraid of roaming this world. You are the most honourable man I know. Reunite my body and allow me to leave this world. Bring my ashes back home to Mari and take care of her. I have asked a lot.
    Akihiro

  37. JWLaviguer says:

    I’m close to 600 words, but I HAD to go past 500 with this.

    “I know that name,” I thought, but the “Lompoc Federal Prison” part threw me off. I set the envelope aside, choosing not to deal with it this morning. I hadn’t even finished my coffee, and I’m getting letters from inmates? This was going to be one helluva day.

    I drank my coffee slowly while going through my e-mail in box. I have no idea why I get so much spam…maybe I should be working during the day instead of surfing the web. No, I don’t need a penis enhancement, thanks for asking. No, I don’t need a free breast enhancement evaluation either, but could you send me some before and after photos? Do I want to send money to Nigeria? No.

    I could see I wasn’t going to get anywhere this way, so I logged into Facebook and went to the California High School group page, on the off chance that his name might appear in the members list.

    “I knew that name sounded familiar.” I clicked on his name and went to his Facebook page. I didn’t recognize the profile picture, so I looked at his photo album, and found one of him from high school.

    “Holy fuck, that’s the son of a bitch that picked on me my junior year,” I said. “Somehow, I’m not surprised he’s in prison. Man, if I could go back in time, I would kick his ass.” I wasn’t much of an ass kicker back in the day, but if I knew then what I know now, things would have been different.

    “So why is that scumbag writing me from prison?” I wondered. I couldn’t wait any longer, so I grabbed the letter and ripped it open. It read:

    “Hi Joe, I don’t know if you remember me, but we went to high school together. I was a real asshole back then, and I wanted to apologize for picking on you so much. I hope you can forgive me.”
    “Yeah, right,” I said.

    “I know you must be wondering why I’m writing to you after all this time,” he continued, “and with a postmark of Lompoc Federal Prison no less. Well, long story short, I murdered someone 12 years ago…the details aren’t important, but I’m on Death Row. What I’m asking from you is for you to be there for my execution and tell me that you forgive me for how I treated you back in high school.”

    Wow. I had to read that over at least a dozen times. Half the time I could hardly read the words, as tears filled my eyes.

    I was there, sitting with a room full of people, some crying, others praying, still others silently starting at their shoes. He was escorted into the glass-enclosed chamber and was led to the front, where he stood shakily with a guard on either side.

    A voice came over the PA. “If anyone has any words for this man, please come forward.” I stood up hesitantly and stood behind a podium with a mic.

    I told him my name, then said, “I am sorry for the path in your life that led you to this moment, and I,” I had to take a moment to compose myself before I could continue. “I forgive you for your behavior towards me back in high school.”

    Tears streamed down his face and mine. I went back to my chair and watched while one person after another came up to the podium to speak to this man, who I never really knew, for the last time.

    • wilson hara says:

      Well written and enjoyable!

    • assaultymcnulty says:

      You knocked this one out of the park. This is the best post I’ve read so far. Great concept, Great story!!!!

      • JWLaviguer says:

        Thank you so much for the praise! Good to know I’m on the right track sometimes lol

        • rob akers says:

          Nice story. As much as I like twisted dark stories, I love stories about forgiveness and redemption. Not much to add about the story and I do appreciate your thoughts.

          Not to be critical but you could have cut about 50 words with a little more effort. The entire 2nd paragraph could have been cut and the next 4 paragraphs could have been combined and kept the meat of the story intact. I laughed when reading the second paragraph but it didnt have much to do with the story.

          • fbxwriter says:

            I agree. You could easily stayed within the word limit if you were willing to “kill your darlings.”

            Your story also contains a time shift when your protagonist moves from dealing with the letter to being at the execution. I found that jarring and had to read the paragraph a second time to figure out what had happened. I suggest more space between those paragraphs or something else to alert the reader to the transition, such as a tense shift: “Now I am sitting with a room full of people…”

            I like the forgiveness aspect of the story. Forgiveness is powerful medicine. Nice job.

          • JWLaviguer says:

            I appreciate the feedback; thank you.

  38. Just B says:

    Hey Crisco (bet you haven’t heard that in awhile ;)

    I know you’ve tried for a long, long time to keep me on the straight and narrow. Remember that time at Valley High when you caught me breaking into lockers? You always were my toughest hall monitor to get around. I got three day’s suspension for that one (won’t tell you what use I made of my time off – ha ha).

    I know you’ve always had my best interest at heart, and I appreciate that. Just trying to make an honest man out of me. I did try it for awhile too, but a fellow can only flip so many burgers, ya know? Seemed like the register was making a few dollars more than I was and not working nearly as hard. Easing its load came so easy, I signed on at a few other places. So, you see, I was gainfully employed just like you always said I should be. Even have the paystubs to prove it.

    But then ever vigilant you just had to come along again, didn’t you? First, I was going to school then I got a job, but they just never seem to be good enough for you. So here you come breathing on me all over again. And, yeah, I guess I caused you a lot of grief by not being at the places you kept thinking I was going to be for a few years running.

    But now I’m sitting here cooling my heels. Have had some time to think about things and consider my options and guess what? I was just offered a really great opportunity over the Internet. These guys in Nigeria want me to get them a used car. Say they’ll pay really well for it too. So what do you think of that? Something finally legit that you don’t have to worry about. From the size of this payload, I won’t be bothering you ever again.

    But the thing is that in order to hop onto this gravy train and roll out of here into high clover, I need something that only you can get for me. Don’t tell anyone about this, ok? I think you might have my cell key…

    “Hey, Chief Cris!” I swung my head up from the letter to see my First Staff Sergeant leaning in the doorway of my office, “We’re gonna need you on this one. Got a call that the Mayor’s daughter got swept up in a drug net. You’re gonna have to handle the press.”

    I jumped to my feet and threw the letter on my desk. We may have been high school classmates, but that joker was going to have to wait.

  39. Wendy2020 says:

    The previous one posted before I had a chance to format it, and I don’t know how to delete or edit it. HTML is new to me.

    That Bad Taste in Your Mouth
                    When I was kid, my bus stop was right in front of Johnny Webber’s house, so there was no taking an alternate route to avoid him.   Johnny’s driveway sloped deeply downward from the sidewalk, twisted back on itself like a broken elbow, then righted its course till it met the carport of his cedar house.  Its natural wood tone was devoured by olive green paint, hinting that this was a place to raise an army, not a family.

    Every morning, as I approached the bus stop, Johnny and his minions, otherwise known as his six younger siblings, would rise up the black pitch driveway looking dead-eyed and looking straight at me.

    Johnny would thrust his red calloused hand out towards the brown paper sack in my puny fingers.   My name, Gordon, was scrawled on the bag in black marker, as if that meant something.

    “Lunch,” he’d droned, like a B-movie zombie trolling for brains.

    Johnny and I wore the age fourteen very differently.  He grew past it while I was outsized by his sixth-grade twin sisters and his ten year-old bully-prodigy brother.  The “wee-Webbers”, boys aged six, four and two, clutched pink, flaky stones in their little tight fists.

    Without a fight, I’d drop my crinkled bag into Johnny’s open palm.  He’d pry open the top, making sure I hadn’t deceived him with the likes of pimento cheese or liverwurst.

    “Two tunas on wheat? And peanut butter cookies?  Six of them?”

    I’d nod, then wait for the bus to come and pray for Johnny to die.

    It took God a long time answer my prayer.  Twenty-seven years.   But finally Johnny was about die, courtesy of the Nebraska death penalty.  He’d killed his own parents, in self-defense he’d said.  But the jury didn’t buy it.  Good for them.

    He sends me his last request, straight from death row.

    “I know I’ve caused you a lot of grief,” the letter says, “but there’s something I need that only you can get for me. Don’t tell anyone about this.”

    “Please send me the recipes for your mother’s tuna salad and snickerdoodle cookies.  I’d like them to be my last meal. Thank you very much.”

    I find a low rated tuna salad recipe on the internet and mangle it further by doubling the celery salt and halving the mayonnaise.  I omit the baking soda from my mother’s list of snickerdoodle ingredients. They’ll be tooth-breaking rocks.  Choke on this, Johnny, Thank you very much.

                Two days after Johnny’s execution, I get another letter.

                Dear Gordon,

                Thank you for sending Johnny your mother’s recipes.  We found them tucked into the splitting spine of his Bible.  Johnny was never good at hiding things.

                We’re so grateful he finally got to try them.  Our brother used to say he was allergic to tuna and peanuts, and we were too hungry to call him on his lie. The sandwiches and cookies sure beat the salt lick stones our parents had us suck on for breakfast.  

                Johnny always felt bad about what he did to you.  I know your forgiveness meant the world to him.

                Sincerely,

                            The Webbers

                p.s:  Can’t wait to make the recipes at home.  Bet they taste even better than we remember.

    • Icabu says:

      Nice, dark, story. It twisted much like that ‘broken elbow’ driveway.
      Good job!

    • zo-zo says:

      Wow, I loved this!! Strong descriptions and fluid writing. Some beautiful lines – ‘Johnny and I wore the age fourteen very differently.

      • Wendy2020 says:

        Thank you very much. Was an interesting tone and voice to write in. I enjoyed yours as well. Am going to comment below.

        • JR MacBeth says:

          “Interesting” Wendy? Do you mean that the voice and tone in this story was sort of an experiment or test for you? Well IMO, you pulled it off! The voice was strong, consistent and appealing. I’m impressed if that wasn’t your usual. You might hold on to some of that, worked for me.

          • Wendy2020 says:

            I’d say it is darker than I tend to write, though like many, I have plenty of darkness to tap into. I do find myself drawing more from “deep waters” recently, so not really an experiment, more a deepening?

            My POV character is usually female, so that was a change also.

            Thank you for your feedback. Have felt that reading others’ works has been as rewarding as writing my own.

    • fbxwriter says:

      Your imagery is strong, as is the irony of the situation.

      I was a little jarred when you changed from past tense to present tense. The story would have been fine in past tense. Perhaps when Gordon receives the last letter, you could change to present tense. That would give the moment more immediacy. Also, after 27 years I find it hard to believe the Webber kids are all still living together and would sign their letter “The Webbers.” That makes it sound contrived. Having one of the siblings write and sign the letter would make it more real.

      My criticisms are small, though. This is an excellent effort. The bitterness of your protagonist comes through strong in his actions. His remorse is anticipated, but I felt it immediately.

      • Wendy2020 says:

        Thanks fbx. Good points! Didn’t think they would all still live together, but thought they might still write a joint thank you letter. But I can see that perhaps coming from just one sister like, Sincerely, Gretchen Webber. And maybe in the letter I could say, “on behalf of brothers and sister”?

        Did think about the tense, but thought maybe I had to swap to present since the prompt was in present tense? But maybe that was a just a starting point and did not have to be literal.

        Really appreciate your insight. Thank you.

        • rob akers says:

          Nice story and good twist at the end. I like how you intertwined the letter with the action. That is very difficult and you pulled it off.

          A different twist would have been for the family to have known the tuna reciepe was bogus. This would give a very different end and solved the problems fbxwriter mentioned.

          Good Job!

        • fbxwriter says:

          I think “on behalf of” would have worked fine. Don’t get too stuck on responding to the prompt literally. As you read through other submissions you’ll notice others take a lot license with the prompt. I like to stay as true to the prompt as I can, but I also like to experiment with different tenses and points-of-view. I figure this is a great forum for experimenting. For example, if you haven’t read Imaginalchemy’s Aug 14 entry “A Bad Idea,” you should. That one’s pretty interesting.

    • smseda says:

      Love the bittersweet ending. Almost made me cry. Very well rounded story line.

  40. Wendy2020 says:

    That Bad Taste in Your Mouth
    When I was kid, my bus stop was right in front of Johnny Webber’s house, so there was no taking an alternate route to avoid him. Johnny’s driveway sloped deeply downward from the sidewalk, twisted back on itself like a broken elbow, then righted its course till it met the carport of his cedar house. Its natural wood tone was devoured by olive green paint, hinting that this was a place to raise an army, not a family.
    Every morning, as I approached the bus stop, Johnny and his minions, otherwise known as his six younger siblings, would rise up the black pitch driveway looking dead-eyed and looking straight at me.
    Johnny would thrust his red calloused hand out towards the brown paper sack in my puny fingers. My name, Gordon, was scrawled on the bag in black marker, as if that meant something.
    “Lunch,” he’d droned, like a B-movie zombie trolling for brains.
    Johnny and I wore the age fourteen very differently. He grew past it while I was outsized by his sixth-grade twin sisters and his ten year-old bully-prodigy brother. The “wee-Webbers”, boys aged six, four and two, clutched pink, flaky stones in their little tight fists.
    Without a fight, I’d drop my crinkled bag into Johnny’s open palm. He’d pry open the top, making sure I hadn’t deceived him with the likes of pimento cheese or liverwurst.
    “Two tunas on wheat? And peanut butter cookies? Six of them?”
    I’d nod, then wait for the bus to come and pray for Johnny to die.
    It took God a long time answer my prayer. Twenty-seven years. But finally Johnny was about die, courtesy of the Nebraska death penalty. He’d killed his own parents, in self-defense he’d said. But the jury didn’t buy it. Good for them.
    He sends me his last request, straight from death row.
    “I know I’ve caused you a lot of grief,” the letter says, “but there’s something I need that only you can get for me. Don’t tell anyone about this.”
    “Please send me the recipes for your mother’s tuna salad and snickerdoodle cookies. I’d like them to be my last meal. Thank you very much.”
    I find a low rated tuna salad recipe on the internet and mangle it further by doubling the celery salt and halving the mayonnaise. I omit the baking soda from my mother’s list of snickerdoodle ingredients. They’ll be tooth-breaking rocks. Choke on this, Johnny, Thank you very much.
    Two days after Johnny’s execution, I get another letter.
    Dear Gordon,
    Thank you for sending Johnny your mother’s recipes. We found them tucked into the splitting spine of his Bible. Johnny was never good at hiding things.
    We’re so grateful he finally got to try them. Our brother used to say he was allergic to tuna and peanuts, and we were too hungry to call him on his lie. The sandwiches and cookies sure beat the salt lick stones our parents had us suck on for breakfast.
    Johnny always felt bad about what he did to you. I know your forgiveness meant the world to him.
    Sincerely,
    The Webbers
    p.s: Can’t wait to make these recipes at home. Bet they taste even better than we remember.

  41. ashe345 says:

    You receive a letter at your workplace from a high school classmate, who is now in prison. “I know I’ve caused you a lot of grief,” the letter says, “but there’s something I need that only you can get for me. Don’t tell anyone about this.”

    Why was Jason writing after all this time? I had known him in high school, and we dated for awhile in senior year. But all we did was get into trouble when we were together. It was mostly prank-type stuff, but I let him convince me to break into a couple houses while he kept lookout. And we did lots of drugs, all kinds. He was handsome and confident, and convinced me that he needed me, that I was helping him. The last time we were together was the night he beat me up on the way home from a party. A neighbor called police after he saw us coming up the walk. He could tell I was bleeding badly. Jason ended up doing time for that because I was in such bad shape. But we were both so drunk and high that night, I don’t think he really meant to hurt me.

    I knew things could never be the same between us, and I didn’t think I’d ever hear from him again. I focused on trying to get my act together. It took four years and two stints in rehab, but I finally felt like I could live without my two drugs, Jason and meth.

    The letter continued, “You’ve been in my folks’ cabin several times, so I know you’ll remember the spot where I used to keep things under the cabinet, in that space between the studs in the wall. I need some papers that I stashed there. I know you’ll remember which room.”

    I’m finally doing well, I thought. I’ve been married for a year, and we have a beautiful daughter. My husband has a lot of cred with the company he works for, and he makes a good living for us… Am I willing to jeopardize that???

    “I’ve never needed you more than I do now, Ally, and I hope you can help me this one last time. Please call me as soon as you get this, and I’ll tell you more. I’m looking forward to hearing your voice again.”

    Ally hesitated. Hearing from Jason brought a smile to her face, and memories began to flood her mind. There had been tender times along with all of the difficult ones in their relationship. She picked up the phone and hesitated. Then she began to dial. Her husband answered. When he heard her voice, he asked what was wrong. She replied, “Can you come home early??? I really need you here”…

  42. Philby47 says:

    “That’s it for today. Class dismissed.” , said Humbart Fortescue to his class. Humbart was an archaeology teacher at the University of Oxford. He was a tall, dark-haired man in his fifties. Everything about him was plain and boring at first glance except for his eyes, one deep-brown, the other ice-blue. Having finished all of his lessons for the day, Humbart looked at his wrist watch. “Half past eight,”, he thought, “Just in time for the movie.” As he was stepping through the door, a voice shouted his name. “Professor Fortescue! Professor Fortescue!” He turned around to see the university secretary waving to him with something in his hand. “Professor Fortescue! This just arrived for you!” , he struggled to get to his breath. He handed Humbart a black envelope which the professor inspected with curiosity. “Thank you, Ronnie.”

    Humbart Fortescue sat on a in the nearest empty classroom. He took out a white piece of paper from the envelope and set eyes on the very first lines of the letter.

    “Dear Humbart,
    as you know, I am in prison. Oh,the irony! I, the greatest archaeologist of all times, spend my time rotting in my cell.”

    Humbart sprang from his seat in astonishment. “Why in the world would Sardak write to me?”, he thought.

    “I know I’ve caused you a lot of grief,” the letter says, “but there’s something I need that only you can get for me. Don’t tell anyone about this.”

    Things started to look grim for professor Fortescue. Sardak was his old friend and fellow archaeologist who specialized in digging out artifacts of the dark arts, mainly necromancy. “This cannot bring any good…” , he barely uttered.

    “Bear with me! You are my only friend in this sad, lonely world. Listen closely. Go to the Darkwood cemetery and find the gravestone with the words “In death, his life shall continue!” Open the grave – be sure to bring a shovel with you – and inspect it for a small, black ring with golden engravings.”

    “What?! He wants me to go tomb raiding! He is completely mad, that I am assured of…”, the professor sighed. Suddenly, he froze. Drops of cold sweat appeared on his forehead. “Black ring…gold…death…Vizzharan…”, he uttered, frightened.

    Humbart Fortescue ran like the wind towards the library. At the ‘forbidden section’, the part of library which was off-limits to students, the professor plucked out from an old bookshelf an old, dust covered book. He opened it, nearly tearing its pages. And there it was. The ominous drawing froze the very blood in Humbart Fortescue’s veins. It represented a black ring with strange, golden engravings scribbled over it. ‘Vizzharan’s Death’ , the title said.

  43. Lynch says:

    The wind was a cold arrogant bully. The snow fell in a way that tricked your mind into thinking it would never reach the ground and yet somehow it accumulated. The streets were crowded with hurried bodies all seeking warmth. If you were one of the first out in the morning you could see the snow while it was still white, before the grease and grime of the city darkened it.

    Saul had been puzzled for days before deciding to take matters into his own hands. He received a letter at work from an old friend he went to high school with. It read in part, “I know I’ve caused you a lot of grief but there’s something I need that only you can get for me. Don’t tell anyone about this.” Saul did not think that this man had caused him a lot of grief and that was the first thing that left him puzzled.

    When he had heard that Arthur had killed another man he instantly thought he got what he deserved. It was hard to fathom feeling grief towards a man that Saul considered to be nothing more than an acquaintance. Why would this man write me? What could I have helped him with? Two years ago Arthur had been put to death by order of a judge. Now a letter arrives asking for help. At first Saul crumpled up the letter and threw it out thinking there was nothing he could do now.

    A day later, while walking past the waste basket, he picked up the letter and had a change of heart. Perhaps what this man needed help with could still be achieved. The contents of the letter were pretty bare, an address to an attorney, apologies for forgotten offenses, and the numbers 1, 3, 9. That was all Saul had to work with. The rest of the letter was a sad dribble written by a man at the end of his life. Maybe Arthur was innocent? Framed? None of it seemed to fit and it left Saul wanting answers even if it was just for his own sake. Why hadn’t Arthur just written what he needed help with instead of leaving Saul to his wits?

    The only thing he could think to do was try his luck at the City Hall of Records, so he walked through the snow headed for downtown. Perhaps getting himself a little more educated on the contents of Arthur’s murder case would help. For two hours he went over every article written about the case. Nothing seemed to make any sense. It was like trying to put together a puzzle but not having all of the pieces. As he said the numbers again in his head it jumped off the page.

    Jurors 1, 3, and 9! Arthur was trying to point out something about jurors 1, 3, and 9. Saul knew this was right because those three jurors were all dead. Juror 1 missing and never found, juror 3 found floating in the bay, and juror 9 found dead outside the city limits. Did Arthur know these people were in danger? Did he have them killed? The room began to spin and Saul felt sick. Now was a good time to contact that lawyer Arthur mentioned in the letter.

  44. penney says:

    The soft, airy voice of the automated prison guard broke into the silence of cellblock 13. “Illumination shut down at Far Point Station Penal Colony in five minutes. All activities will resume at 0600. Countdown begins in 5-4-3.”

    Dane wasn’t finished composing his letter. The screen on the wall would go dead any moment and the forced solitary confinement would commence like clock work. It had been 15 years and no contact with another human except through the communicator. Even than, Visual Messaging was forbidden, the only way to get word to anyone was letters. This was definitely hell.

    “Bitch, I’m not done!” Dane yelled at the ceiling of his cell. He looked over to the porthole and the stars that surrounded the station. His twelve by twelve access window to the universe was his source of hope. The timer on the screen in front of him reminded him of his lack of time management today. Usually he spends his last five minutes staring out at the stars before that bitch blacks out the facility. Ever since he got his friends coordinates, time seem to fly. He had to get to her. He quickly lay on his bedding not letting the stars leave his sight for a moment as the lights blackened and the security shield lowered over the window. Pitch back.

    On the other side of the galaxy, Danny was hard at work. Moon stones past her each day. She sat there daydreaming.

    “No matter what, we’ll always be together.” Dane promised that they would be together always. Now Danny was alone, stuck on this mineral station.

    “I need you, I can’t do this alone,” she told him. They went away for trying to stay on Earth after outward pilgrimage to the new planet, like many others, they realized how optional it really was. They and the others were fanatics against the new world order. They were put to work or lost on penal stations.

    Danny’s computer beeped she had a message. It was Danny, her Danny. He wanted the chip. It was time. The chip was their way out. He apologized over and over, but promised to make it right. She wasn’t sure; it had been a long time.

    The automated guard’s voice was overhead again, “Cafeteria and mail in 20 minutes.”

    Dane’s door lifted open, and he followed the lights set in the floor. He slid his tray in front of the cook, “What’s on the menu?”

    Cook replied, “Chips, and there’s a package for you.”

    It took years and endless salutary but Danny came through. Dane escaped and one day while she sorted moon rocks someone tapped her on the shoulder. She slowly turned, removing her ear plugs. “Yah, whatchu want?”

    A gray haired man smiling at her. Her head tilted to one side. “Do I know you?”

    “Danny it’s me Dane.”

    She responded, “Took you long enough.”

    He laughed. “Let’s go home.”

    He pulled her close, kissed her passionately, and left.

    • penney says:

      paragraph #7 Danny gets message from Dane not herself (typo)

      • penney says:

        I can see now that after going from 628words to just shy of 500 made my closing a little choppy. Dane(him) and Danny(her) leave together in the end. Danny came through and got the requested (micro)chip to Dane to help him escape. Would appreciate any pointers and opinions

        • Wendy2020 says:

          This was kind of confusing for me to follow. Maybe because I am not a big science fiction reader? I didn’t get the microchip thing at all.

          Might consider giving the main characters names that are more dissimilar.

          Good plot, though.

          • penney says:

            Yah would have hopefully made more sense with the other 128 words. I never wrote a sci-fi and tried to give a minor back story as to why their where they are. Micro-chip and what kind of info was lost in cutting. And as earlier disclaimer, names got jumbled toward end. Thought little romantic for to similar names(yuck right). Thanks for comment

          • penney says:

            Yah would have hopefully made more sense with the other 128 words. I never wrote a sci-fi and tried to give a minor back story as to why they’re where they are. Micro-chip and what kind of info was lost in cutting. And as earlier disclaimer, names got jumbled toward end. Thought little romantic for them to have similar names(yuck right). Thanks for comment

  45. Icabu says:

    Pam’s hand trembled as it touched the return address on the letter that the mail clerk tossed onto her desk. It had been a year ago that Zach was sentenced to Pleasant Valley State Prison and nearly two years since their fateful high school graduation night. A night that should have heralded new beginnings instead dealt violent endings to her dear sister and Zach’s handsome brother. She never knew who brought the booze or why Zach drank it. Surviving the accident seemed as painful as the void of those that didn’t. Zach’s price: twenty, times two, for manslaughter.

    “I know I’ve caused you a lot of grief,” Zach’s letter began, “but there’s something I need that only you can get for me. Don’t tell anyone about this.” Pam had to stop reading and grab tissues from her drawer before continuing. “I know everyone would give you a hard time if you agree to this. Please just keep it between us.” Pam dabbed at her eyes as she remembered how close the four of them had been. The only thing that could separate them was plowing into a tree doing sixty.

    She read on. “I’m paying for my mistakes in more ways than I can count. I won’t ask for anyone’s forgiveness – not even my own. What I need is for you to write to me. Just tell me what you see. What you hear. What you taste. There’s nothing here and I need to know there is a world out there still.” Pam paused for more tissues.

    “Tell me when the sun is shining, how it feels on your skin. Is it raining? Can you smell the freshness of the air after a storm? The sweet fresh taste of the first ripe strawberry of the season. The crisp bite of a white wine. The chirp of the birds in the morning or the deep rumbling echo of thunder.”

    Folding the letter, Pam tucked it into her purse. She thought about Zach’s request and realized that she hadn’t really paid much attention to the things he’d asked about. She had stopped enjoying the richness of living as she went to and from work. It was like she had been imprisoned, too. But, unlike Zach, she could – and would – escape.

    Pam parked her car at the lookout above the rocky shore. She picked her way to a boulder and watched the sky bloom colors as the sun sank towards the horizon. She pulled the newly purchased notepad and pen from her jacket pocket. “The hues in the sky as the sun sinks into the placid Pacific are beautiful,” she wrote. “Blues, violets, blazing orange. A pair of gulls are squabbling noisily over some morsel.” She sighed deeply. “The air is heavy with salt and damp.”

    • Wendy2020 says:

      I like your theme here!

      The only thing I might change is to make Zach’s prose more devoid of descriptors. Just a request to remind him about the smells, tastes, sights and sounds of life. Like his memory can’t remember how to describe them any more. That would make the color and flavor of Pam’s response more poignant, and a greater contrast.

      Just a thought.

      I think your writing is good.

    • MCKEVIN says:

      Very good. I liked it. I thought the name of the prison ( Pleasant Valley) was funny. Good job.

      • Icabu says:

        Thanks for reading. PVSP is a min-max facility just east of Coalinga, CA … in the middle of nowhere and I’m sure not very Pleasant.

        • fbxwriter says:

          Interesting. So there is a real Pleasant Valley State Prison. Like McKevin, I thought the name was a joke, too!

          Nice moral tale. You did an excellent job of describing the contrasts of their lives. I like how Zach’s request freed Pam of the prison of her own making.

          • Icabu says:

            It is a real CA State Prison – Sirhan Sirhan was moved there in ’09 (was on death row an San Quentin) and one of the Menendez brothers is there.

            Thanks for reading and the feedback. Prisons can be physical or emotional – glad my message got through.

    • zo-zo says:

      This is so beautiful. Very well-written, and it’s a great reminder to enjoy and savour life.

    • DMelde says:

      Nice story. You write so well.

      • rob akers says:

        Great Job,

        I like how you weave in a moral lesson for us all. When I was over there, I forgot what life was like back here. I am sure that you had the same memories of when you were over there. Free air is priceless.

        This is a great story and only you could pull it off with such class and ease!

        • Icabu says:

          Rob – you pinned my inspiration. I only lasted a month or so in the desert before writing my husband with somewhat the same request. Still had to rely on snail mail back in Shield/Storm. The salty damp air of Hampton (Langley AFB) was a welcome relief after the arid deserts!
          I appreciate your wonderful feedback.

      • Icabu says:

        Thanks for reading. I appreciate your positive feedback.

  46. duchessofmalfi says:

    MAGNANIMITY

    I sit at my desk and the first letter on the pile makes my jaw drop. Its handwritten and postmarked from a local prison. The inky scrawl in the letter is quickly deciphered.

    01/04/2012
    Dear Maggie,
    I know I’ve caused you a lot of grief but there’s something I need that only you can get for me. Don’t tell anyone about this. Its highly embarrassing and in fact I would understand if you ignore this letter but my head is itching like crazy. Crap solicitors, strange cell mates and the chafe of cuffs I can deal with. Headlice I cannot. You would understand right? Help me out.
    Lorraine.

    I gasp in outrage at the sheer audacity of the letter. The girl had been the bane of my existence in High School, she had picked on me mercilessly because with my thick unruly tangle of curls it had taken weeks to fully rectify my head lice problem. Macabre echoes of my pubescent insecurities and old grudges swell up to the surface of my now more developed mind, momentarily blinding me.
    I consider throwing the letter away, noting that the little shit could have just sent this as an April Fool’s joke. But then I glance around at the enormous expanse of my solid oak desk, Halsburys Statutes sitting behind me and think of my whopping pay check. I was sitting cosy while this girl who had a similar upbringing to my own was probably curled fetal in a prison cell, with only her nostalgic wit to entertain her. Oh hell, I could do a little pro bono.
    So I visit the Prison. Lorraine was arrested for burglary. Times are rough and I’m no angel so I don’t judge. But surprise surprise, because she’s obnoxious to the point of distraction I quickly discover that the Custody Officer on duty the night of her arrest failed to fill in his report correctly. So with a few carefully placed complaints her case will be struck off. I visit her, allowed to briefly enter her miniscule cell.
    “Maggie, you’re a star. Did you bring headlice cream? A comb?” Her hand raking through her hair is like an outrageous parody of a Head and Shoulders advert.
    “Must have slipped my mind.” I say, with little attempt at a sincere apology. “But sign this contract I’ve drafted and you’ll be out in a few days.”
    She reads the contract. “You want me to shave my head!” She screeches.
    “Yep.” I grinned. “Shave your head and I represent you and get you out of here.”
    “What good will shaving my hair do for my case?”
    “Absolutely nothing. But it will make me feel better.”
    Hey, I may be magnanimous but like I said. I’m no angel.

  47. Handpicked76 says:

    This is the correct version:

    Nigel Llamas, I never thought that I would hear from him again. Then again, I never thought that he would wind up in prison either. Yet, this letter explains it all. He went to defend his mother in a bad side of town only to find out that she was the one who started everything. “I had this Ni!” I can clearly hear her saying that. She said that each time that he tried to help her do anything. I wished that he would have spent more time taking care of his own responsibilities.

    My twins, Blanca and Bianca, have never laid eyes on him. We had one night together before the prom where he made out in his mother’s car. I was not ready to go the whole distance that night, but it did not keep him from pushing. Then on the evening of the prom we did have sex. I was head over heels with him until a few weeks later when I got sick. His words cut me like a hot seering knife in butter. You whore! You’ve slept with more guys than just me! You weren’t no virgin! I told him to prove it and be available for a blood test in eight months.

    The next week at school he began to spread vicious rumors about me. I ended up moving to Sacramento with my aunt and completing my schooling there. I called him for the blood test but I got no response. I ended up working night and day to raise my girls. I graduated summa cum laude and went right on to graduate school. I was amazed at the amount of scholarships that I was able to obtain being a single mom of twins. Eighteen years later when I am Doctor Hannah Zuarbe-Rivas, this buffoon has the nerve to contact me!

    Hannah, I know I did you wrong by spreading all those rumors and not being there for you when you were carrying my child. I apologize for that. I don’t know if you kept the baby or not. However, if you did, then I need a huge favor. I am experiencing kidney failure and I would like to see if my child is a match. So, can we arrange a blood test?

    I made a trip to the prison and I sat across from him. He explained to me that he only had four months to live unless he found a match. I only had these words to say: “After all you did to us, you have high expectations. They are just unmerited. You pushed me out of your life and forced me to go it alone. It’s only right that you experience the same. When I left Dallas, I never looked back so I want you to leave this conversation and do the same.”

    • fbxwriter says:

      Interesting story, but I’m not buying that Hannah went to visit him in prison and remained so calm during the conversation. Nigel is still clearly very self-centered. I think she would have just tossed the letter and ignored him. If you have her go to the meeting, then there needs to be some sort of emotion. It could be outrage that she kept a lid on for many years, or anger that comes out as bittersweet revenge. In the latter case, she could have teased him along, giving him hope, for the sole purpose of telling him no and seeing his disappointment. In either case, as a reader I want more emotion.

  48. Handpicked76 says:

    Mysterious Request -

    Nigel Llamas, I never thought that I would hear from him again. Then again, I never thought that he would wind up in prison either. Yet, this letter explains it all. He went to defend his mother in a bad side of town only to find out that she was the one who started everything. “I had this Ni!” I can clearly hear her saying that. She said that each time that he tried to help her do anything. I wished that he would have spent more time taking care of his own responsibilities.

    My twins, Blanca and Bianca, have never laid eyes on him. We had one night together before the prom where he made out in his mother’s car. I was not ready to go the whole distance that night, but it did not keep him from pushing. Then on the evening of the prom we did have sex. I was head over heels with him until a few weeks later when I got sick. His words cut me like a hot seering knife in butter. You whore! You’ve slept with more guys than just me! You weren’t no virgin! I told him to prove it and be available for a blood test in eight months.

    The next week at school he began to spread vicious rumors about me. I ended up moving to Sacramento with my aunt and completing my schooling there. I called him for the blood test but I got no response. I ended up working night and day to raise my girls. I graduated summa cum laude and went right on to graduate school. I was amazed at the amount of scholarships that I was able to obtain being a single mom of twins. Eighteen years later when I am Doctor Hannah Zuarbe-Rivas, this buffoon has the nerve to contact me!

    Hannah, I know I did you wrong by spreading all those rumors and not being there for you when you were carrying my child. I apologize for that. I don’t know if you kept the baby or not. However, if you did, then I need a huge favor. I am experiencing kidney failure and I would like to see if my child is a match. So, can we arrange a blood test?

    I made a trip to the prison and I sat across from him. After all you did to us, you have high expectations. They are just unmerited. You pushed me out of your life and forced me to go it alone. It’s only right that you experience the same. When I left Dallas, I never looked back so I want you to leave this conversation and do the same.

    • Birdee0809 says:

      Ah, there’s a little part of all of us that would like to see those that have wronged us get their comeuppance. Good story. You might want to brush up on your dialogue tags a bit, some were missing.

  49. MCKEVIN says:

    Drama queen extraordinaire LaDoris Motten, rushed toward me. Something was up because we’ve barely spoken two words since I told her that her taco salad smelled like feet. She had a letter in one hand and wiped sweat with the other. She was wide eyed and out of breath.
    “Tracy, a letter came for you. It seems important. She said.
    “How does a letter seem important LaDoris?”
    “I didn’t read it, but signed for it because of where it’s from.”
    She handed me the letter without taking her eyes off me. “This letter is from an inmate at correction facility.” I didn’t know anyone locked up and had no idea who would be writing me, at my job.
    “Thank you LaDoris.” I said hoping she’d go away.
    “Aren’t you going to open it?”
    “Not now.”
    “It might be important.”
    “It might. Talk to you later.”
    I walked away leaving her with mouth open. The letter was from Quincy Gordon. I hadn’t heard his name since high school. What could he want and how did he find me? Disturbed, I ripped it open.

    “Dear Tracy:
    I am probably the last person you expect or want to hear from. We don’t have much in common, so I’ll be brief. I’ve turned my life around since you last seen me. I’m writing to apologize for what I and those four guys did. After they raped you, I should have had enough sense not to. But I didn’t and I’m sorry. I’ve always felt guilty but never apologized. But I am now and to ask for forgiveness. I never planned to rape you. I’m not even gay. We were stupid kids, playing a prank that got out of hand and should’ve known better. It wasn’t supposed to happen. The Chaplin helped me to find you. I don’t mean to impose or to open wounds I hope, have healed.
    Sincerely,
    Quincy Gordon”

    My eyes welled with tears because I could smell his scent again. I wanted to vomit. Nightmares and memories I buried all flashed back. I grabbed paper and pen from my desk. I had to give the hurt and pain a voice. My lips quivered. My hands and body shook. I cried as I wrote.

    “Dear Quincy:
    How dare you and your Chaplin write me at work or anywhere else! You and the others are no better than slave masters raping slaves. They didn’t know God and I don’t believe you or your Chaplin does either. You weren’t high, drunk or delusional. You knew exactly what you were doing. I was a kid and didn’t deserve what the five of you did. You’re all sick! There’s nothing to forgive. I’m gay and a child of God. I survived. I pray God forgives you before you all burn in hell! Eat shit and die! I hope your dicks fall off!
    Tracy

    I rushed to the mailbox before I changed my mind. Oh no! Not LaDoris again.
    “Tracy, is your friend okay?”
    Vomit went everywhere.

    • assaultymcnulty says:

      Wow this is disturbing but good! I only have a couple things…one is the MC a guy? Two, when she sees who wrote her the letter maybe heighten the anxiety. The walls close in or the room spins, she crumbles to her knees. A bolt of fear tore through her like a marksmans bullet.

      • MCKEVIN says:

        Hi assaultymcnult, thanks for stopping by and taking to read my story. I really appreciate it. Let me ask you something, if you knew the sex of the MC, how would the story be different for you? Just curious. And i’d pllanned to describe the rape scene but with a 500 limit, i chose to tell a complete story. Thanks again, and don’t be shy coming by in the future. McKevin

        PS – if you liked this story you might want to check out my entry under “Today is the day you save a life” entry.

        • MCKEVIN says:

          forgive the typos and missing words. Chalk it up to my head, not my heart.

        • assaultymcnulty says:

          I don’t think it would different I guess I just thought it was a woman until the line about not being gay. I think that if the MC was gay and a male I don’t want to sound like a jerk but it would be worse for a man I’d imagine.
          It reminded me of an english film I saw once where the MC confronts a gang of thugs that raped his brother and during the dispicable act the brother had an orgasm. This was so defiling to him he killed himself. Sad movie but his brother gets good revenge.

          • MCKEVIN says:

            The MC is a man. Rape is horrible for a man, woman or a child. If you know the name of that film I would like to look it up. Thanks again, and don’t forget to see my “Today is the day you save a life” entry. You owe it to yourself.

        • assaultymcnulty says:

          I read the other post…gripping

    • Icabu says:

      A lot going on in this story – definitely could use a larger word count.
      Dark and sensitive topics
      Interesting read

      • wilson hara says:

        Agree with icabu

      • MCKEVIN says:

        Hi Icabu, thanks for reading my story and commenting. Rape is complex subject and to write a story about man being raped is even more comple because it is something that’s not talked about. Throw in the other players and we have the workings of a novel. Our information driven world is changing the way we receive and process information. Writing is being reduced to a few type written characters to tell a whole story or to speak volumes of conversation. TVs can show multiple channels at one time. All this is causing our brains to rewire itself in order to process all that is coming through. I think art is slowly catching up to or mirroring life. There is no such thing as a one piece puzzle or a one issue subject. Writers of the future (in my opinion) are going to have to adapt if they want to succeed commercially. Thanks again and I’ll see you at the forum next time. McKevin

        • MCKEVIN says:

          This is for Ishmael and the others who have advised me to be more focused. Ishmael, I hope I beat you to the punch this time with this revised edition. McKevin

          “Dear Tracy:
          I am probably the last person you expect or want to hear from. We don’t have much in common, so I’ll be brief. I’ve turned my life around since you last seen me. I’m writing to apologize for what I and those four guys did. After they raped you, I should’ve had enough sense not to. But I didn’t, and I’m sorry. I’ve always felt guilty but never apologized. But I am now, and to ask you for forgiveness. I never planned to rape you. I’m not even gay. We were stupid kids, playing a prank that got out of hand and should’ve known better. It wasn’t supposed to happen. I asked the Chaplin to help me to find you. If you’re reading this, I guess he did. I don’t mean to impose or to open old wounds, I hope, have healed.
          Sincerely,
          Quincy Gordon”

          I felt hot, dizzy and sick to my stomach. My eyes tear because I could smell his scent again. I wanted to vomit. Everything turns black as I taste my blood from that night. Nightmares and the madness I buried all flashed back. I am ashamed and feel dirty. My head spins and I want to yell. But I can’t! I’m back there when no one chose to help me. I gag as I remember hands covering my mouth, muffling my screams. I want to die again. Ghost pains play havoc with my body. I want to run and hide. I need to give voice to the pain. My lips quiver. My hands and body shake. I am sick. They left me for dead. God, please help me. I’m crying as I write.
          “Quincy:
          How dare you and your Chaplin write me at work or anywhere else! You and the others are no better than slave masters raping slaves. They didn’t know God and I don’t believe you or your Chaplin does either. You weren’t high, drunk or delusional. You knew exactly what you were doing because you had to be aroused to do what you did. I was a kid you sick fuck! I didn’t deserve what the five of you did. You’re all sick! There’s nothing to forgive. I’m gay and a child of God. I survived. May God forgive you before you all burn in hell! Eat shit and die! I hope your dicks rot off! You don’t deserve it!
          Tracy
          I rushed to the mailbox before I could change my mind about mailing it. Oh no! Not LaDoris. She signed for the letter as part of her job. She’s the office drama queen/ gossip/lead clerical and…

          “That letter seemed important Tracy. Did you get a chance to read it?”
          “How does an unopened letter seem important LaDoris?”
          “Because, where it came from.”
          “Not now LaDoris.’
          “I was just concerned that’s all.”
          “I have to go.”
          I side step her.
          “Tracy…”
          I turn and face her.
          “What!”
          “Is my brother okay?”
          I couldn’t hold it any longer. Vomit went everywhere.

          • fbxwriter says:

            This is better, McKevin. In your first version I wondered why LaDoris was even included. She seemed to use up words without moving the story forward. (In either version I don’t think it’s important that she’s a drama queen.) In any story, especially one with a 500-word limit, everything has to push the story forward.

          • rob akers says:

            McKevin,

            Nice story about a very tough subject. I like the idea in the second version than focuses on the letter and the response. That is the right track for you to tell the story. And I agree with fbxwriter that LaDoris is a distractor and she uses up some of your word count. However, you have a real tallent for making up names. Every story you write, I always smile when reading the names. If that is your only reason to include LaDoris, to me it is more than enough.

            Just a question. Why does the main character’s sexual orientation matter? Like gender, it does not change the pain, anguish and all the other emotions that one would expierience following a rape.

            Either way, Nice Job as usual. I appreciate everything you write.

          • MCKEVIN says:

            fbxwriter and Rob,

            Thanks for reading and commenting. Your input is slways valued. I’m glad the 2nd version is more to your liking. I try hard to please my readers while trying to remain true to myself. Rob, I’m glad you like the names I use. Believe it or not some of them are real and not made up. Lol. And a character’s sexual orientation has nothing to do with a story at all. Wouldn’t it be great if we treated each like that in ilife.

          • Ishmael says:

            Hey McKev – I’ve had several lengthier projects garnering my attention lately (as well as the many demands of my day job), but a friend emailed me and told me to come by the board to check out your story. I had read the original earlier in the week, but had no time to make a comment. It’s like you read my mind about a few things.

            First off, wonderful job of self-editing and revising! Seriously – I cannot emphasize that enough. The revised story is 100% better than the original. On your first draft (and let’s just call it a draft), I felt no pity for the protagonist. Yes, I had the knowledge of his being raped, but that was it: I was ‘told’ he was raped. I even mentioned it in a scribble I wrote to a friend about the board and the stories and writers I follow (you being one of them).

            “…I guess it was supposed to be heart-wrenching. No. The protagonist was a jerk. The message was that he never got over it and it made him sick, but his hatred and vindictiveness did NOT make me like the guy, or feel for his circumstance. And the story did not pull me in. If one wants to write about that, one can do it where there’s a more empathy for the protagonist (even if he still can’t forgive the guy), you feel the actual pain that he went through (at the time of the rape), leave the hatred out, but keep the vomit.”

            Exact words – I cut and pasted. And you DID IT. In your revised version, you opened much more effectively with the letter and set the situation immediately. Then, after reading the letter, you took us to his feelings – GREAT. Wonderful time for the backstory of the rape. And you didn’t just tell us he was raped, you showed us. I was the protagonist. I felt his pain, tasted his blood, smelled the scents. That whole paragraph pulled me in. Suddenly, the hate felt justified! You didn’t change his responding letter, but it felt differently to me now, and I didn’t dislike the protagonist nor think him a jerk.

            I’m glad you took a second look at it And you kept the vomit. Yes.

            I applaud your advocacy of gay rights, and appreciate how you include the community in your works. I too, would like to see a different side to what you can do. From the perspective of a dog, or a lamppost, or something totally different – perhaps without any gay characters, or even human characters. Or if you keep it gay, write about how the lamps and knick-knacks make fun of the candle because he’s such a flamer, or the prejudices towards gay aliens…Galiens. Show the world your stories and observations in a different kind of way. Animal Farm wasn’t about the animals. I encourage you to flex your writing muscles…I can tell how much you enjoy the craft.

            Thanks for posting a revision – it was quite an improvement, in my book. See what letting it sit and looking at it a little later can do? Great use of the 500 words. You took away what needed to be taken, and added the parts I needed as a reader to feel more connected to the story and theme.

            Now…I’ve got to get back to work. :)

  50. StarshipRanger says:

    I pushed away what was left of my lunch, suddenly feeling a lot less hungry. The letter in my hand weighted a ton in my hand, so I released it and watched it flutter down onto my desk. If only I hadn’t been so curious, if only I had ripped the letter and thrown it away, if only…
    ‘I know I’ve caused you a lot of grief but there’s something I need that only you can get for me. Don’t tell anyone about this.’
    The envelope hadn’t had a name on it, only the address of the prison in my home state. At first I thought it was a joke, probably from my younger brother, but the handwriting seemed slightly familiar, so I ripped it open.
    ‘I’m sorry for all of the things I did to you in high school; all the teasing and such. I’m going to be in here for a few years, I won’t tell you what for, but for some reason while sitting bored in my cell, I thought of you. Don’t worry, this isn’t some letter where I’ll reveal my long-time love for you and ask you to bail me out.’
    All they did to me in high school? Teasing? My stomach turned sour. Writing me from prison, eight years after we graduated, was none other than James Malloy. He had been a pain in the neck throughout high school. However hard I tried to change my schedule, we always had at least one class together every year. James would toss chunks of eraser and corn nuts at the back of my head during class and always make fun of me for always having a book in front of my face.
    ‘I thought of how you loved to read and I was wondering if you could possibly send me some books to read while I’m here. I’ll understand if you refuse, I was a jackass after all. If you do, though, I want you to know that I’ll pay you back in full for the books and the shipping as soon as I’m out of here. And I won’t steal the money, I swear. I’ve learned my lesson from that. Damnit, I said I wasn’t going to say what I did. Why did I write this in pen? Well, thank you if you agree and if not, I hope you’re doing well. I always knew you’d get out of our dumb little town and do good. I guess that’s why I messed with you a lot. Anyway, sorry again. – JM’
    Books. My old high school bully that’s in prison wanted me to send him books? And why did he say not to tell anyone? I don’t see why he wouldn’t want people to know he was reading. Then I looked back at the paper.
    ‘P.S. Can you cut a hole in one and possibly hide a sharp object of some kind?’
    There it was.

  51. Mr1969 says:

    Burn baby burn

  52. shlbycindy says:

    To say I was surprised to receive a letter from Cheryl would be putting it mildly. How did she even know where I worked? A lot had changed since we had last seen each other in high school. Twenty-five years had passed and I had a full life now. A loving husband, two children, and a partnership in a law firm. Cheryl had made my life miserable during those high school years. Her constant taunts and dirty tricks still stung. She had even stolen away my prom date. I started to throw the letter away but decided to go see her instead.
    The guards led me to a small room with dull green paint on the walls. A few minutes later a small older looking woman was led to the steel table where her handcuffs were secured. I was shocked to see it was Cheryl. Her eyes were sunken, her skin sallow, and there was an air of desperation surrounding her. At first she looked at me in disbelief.
    “ I didn’t think you would come” she said while trying to grab my hand. The handcuffs stopped her short.
    “ I just have a few minutes Cheryl. What do you need?” I kept a business like tone. I knew she was in jail for a murder that had occurred over twenty-five years ago. My specialty in the law firm was business law so I didn’t see how I could help her.
    “Sandra, you know I’m in jail for murdering Paul don’t you? Do you remember Paul?”
    Of course I knew who Paul was. He was my ’almost’ prom date that Cheryl had stolen away. He had mysteriously disappeared the night of the prom. In fact they had only found his body, laying in the bottom of a ravine, about five years ago.
    “Sandra, you were there after I left. You could tell them Paul was alive after I left him in the parking lot at school. Then I could be free!”
    I looked at her for a moment and weighed the consequences.
    “Cheryl, I would help you if I could but, it just wouldn’t be a good idea”. I tried to put aside my past feelings and gave her a small pat on the shoulder while I stood up to leave. She seemed to sink even farther into herself and just shook her head as if resigned to her fate.
    The only sound in the prison hallway was the click of my high heels as I left. By the time I reached my car I realized my decision was for the best. After all, if I gave Cheryl an alibi then they may all eventually figure out that I was the real murderer. And that just wouldn’t do.

  53. onaway says:

    My potato farm ran right down the edge of the old Eastern prison. I had been following the directions in the letters for weeks, I had dug a hole, I had braced the hole, brought a ladder, extra clothes and water and left them in the hole. I expected to receive another letter telling me to be at the hole one night at a certain time so they could kill me and steal my truck. I did as I was told.
    That morning it was darker than usual and I watched the guards pace in the towers as I often did and the sun began to rise and make orange the cloudless sky as the stars faded away and I got ready to die by the end of the day. I kissed my wife good-bye and strolled out with my dog to the road and the mailbox and sure as shit there was the brown envelope the kind they always used and I don’t know how they kept getting in my mailbox without me wakin in the night.
    They wanted my Chevy truck and my Winchester shotgun tonight at midnight or they would burn down my house.
    “Well Seamus, I guess this is it.” Seamus said nothing he scratched a flea.
    I put all the equipment in the back of the truck and sloshed out to the edge of the field. I watched the guards pacing and wondered if they would remember seeing my truck tomorrow.
    I walked down the tunnel backwards as I emptied the 5 gallon cans and dropped ‘em. I climbed the ladder and kneeled there up top, listening for footsteps. There was quiet, hushed murmuring. The gang was coming down the tunnel. I thought any minute they’ll be at this here ladder so I sparked the lighter and threw it into the hole and the whooooosh nearly knocked me back into my potatoes. There was hollering and screaming something awful for a time but no one to hear it but me and the fields. To Hell with that gang.

    • assaultymcnulty says:

      While interesting, I love a good revenge story. Critique…I’m not sure it sticks to the prompt. Also if a gang could get to his mailbox everynight wouldnt they be able to steal his truck as well and if they did want his truck instead of going to them wouldn’t he send his family off in his truck and grab a few buddies that have winchesters and use the house to their advantage? After all he has insurance right? haha This type of story is right up my alley. Good stuff!!

      • bwilson says:

        Onaway,
        Although ‘assaultymcnulty’ made excellent points, I think your piece shows talent, so don’t be discouraged. You have a feel for the thriller genre, and included some nice details, which brought a feeling of being there. Expand, and expound on that as you keep in mind that logic is important.

  54. WriterInHiding says:

    Ethan tossed the sheet of paper on the dining room table. He never expected to hear from Matt again. Now, Matt wanted a favor? Really? He picked up the letter and scanned through the lines that echoed in his mind. “I know I’ve caused you a lot of pain and grief. No teenage boy should have to go through the loss of their parents, let alone in such a gruesome fashion. However, I need your help. I need something done only you can do.” He jumped to the bottom of the page. “Please, hurry. Also, don’t tell anyone about this.”

    Instantly, Ethan knew he must act. He snagged a shovel on the way out the door and headed for the high school where he and Matt had been classmates.

    It was difficult to find the marker in the darkness, but after some effort Ethan found the grey cross and submerged the blade into thick dirt. Right away, he struck metal. His pace quickened as he uncovered all four corners of the box. His muscles swelled as he hefted the container into the back of his pickup.

    He watched for headlights in his rear view mirror as he blasted down the highway. For a moment, he was glad for his divorce. No one would be home to question him about the box.

    The hammer pulverized the lock, and he swung the weighted lid open. He spread books, journals, pieces of paper, and other items onto his kitchen table. With the determination of a jewel miner, he sifted through the loot. The whole trail of deception cluttered the table, and his mind.

    He picked up a newspaper clipping and read. “Morgan, Utah – Police arrested 17-year-old Matthew Givens last night at his home for the murder of Boss & Linda Frampton that occurred on April 15, 1992.” The date on the paper was March 2, 1992. He slammed it back onto the table. Then he saw it; his dad’s journal sitting in the bottom of the box.

    He pried the pages open to April 14, 1992. A letter flooded onto the floor. “Linda, we are in a great deal of trouble. Matt, has figured out the truth. He will tell Ethan, and that will blow our cover. Ethan will then know that Matt is not only his friend, but his brother. I need not remind you that we must keep this information from the Legion of Sorcerers. What’s worse, Ethan must die. Now is our time to move. I know Matt will try to prevent his death at all costs.”

    All at once, Ethan no longer knew who he was. He knew one thing, however. Matt had saved his life and was telling the truth. If that was the case, the Legion of Sorcerers, whoever they are, wanted him dead, and they were on their way now.

    Ethan pushed a change of clothes into his duffle bag and raced out the door. He wouldn’t be here when they arrived.

    • Chrissy says:

      Nice job. I’m a sucker for sci-fi.

    • Mr1969 says:

      Ok liked this one really good

    • onaway says:

      I like this. Are the dates correct?

    • assaultymcnulty says:

      Good imagination. Fast pace. Although some things stood out to me. Why mention his divorce if it doesn’t move the story along? The dates don’t make sense. Maybe this is some sort of time travel if so it needs to be more clear and lastly why would his parents raise him then try to kill him when he finds out they’re sorcerer’s? What’s the motive??

      • fbxwriter says:

        I agree, especially about the last point. It would make more sense that Matt should die rather than Ethan. The story does move along quickly and with tension.

    • bwilson says:

      Dear WriterInHiding, stop hiding! You write extremely well. The idea of this short is the making of a novel. You left me wanting to read more. Have faith in your talent and get your work out there.

    • WriterInHiding says:

      Great feedback, everyone. I will certainly take it to heart. I did mess up on the dates. The March date is supposed to be May. However, in hindsight it would have been best to simply leave them out. They don’t really add to the story.

      • assaultymcnulty says:

        Your writing style is great. Fast paced and suspenseful my favorite part is when he finds the box and he’s checking over his shoulder for followers blasting down the highway. I was on edge.

        • rob akers says:

          Good job. I like the dates but they have to make sense. It would be cool if those dates held some relevance to him as well. More of a tangled web to flesh out. I agree with everyone this has so much potiential as a bigger story.

  55. Sitting at my desk one day while working, I was shocked when I received a letter from my old high school pal Cheryl.

    Cheryl was found guilty and is doing life in prison for killing her entire family.
    The news came as a shock to the community. “Now she’s writing to me?” I questioned out loud.

    ‘Cathy, I know I’ve caused you a lot of grief, but there’s something I need that only you can get for me. Don’t tell anyone about this but I need your kidney. signed Cheryl’ Ford.

    Pondering the idea over in my mind, My kidney? Does she know? Just because she killed her entire family and has no one to turn to, doesn’t mean I’ll give her my kidney. I decide to write her a reply.

    ‘Cheryl, I don’t have any idea why you’d think my kidney will work for you. Please explain.’ signed Cathy’

    Several weeks went by before her return reply arrived.

    ‘Cathy, you are my sister. My mother was your biological mother. The woman you’ve called mom all these years adopted you. So you are my only remaining family. signed Cheryl’

    I thought about her reply and figured out she knows. Did she already know at the time she killed everyone? What is she trying to do? I shrugged wondering if she has an alliterative motive.

    ‘Cheryl, If what you say is true and I am your last remaining sister, I can not give you a kidney. signed Cathy’

    After another few weeks I get a reply letter.

    ‘Cathy, You are my only hope. I need your kidney so I can survive. Please find it in your heart. signed Cheryl’

    Without much more thought I answered.

    ‘Cheryl, I know I am your sister and if I give you my kidney, you know I will die. Then your dream will come true. I plan to keep my kidney and I will be the only survivor, not you. signed Cathy’

    Smiling as I put the stamp on the letter. “She may have thought she was the smart one but I know if I give her my kidney, it will kill me. I already gave my other kidney to her mother.” I said quietly to myself smirking the entire time.

  56. “A Bad Idea”

    A potato peeler? What on earth did he want a potato peeler for, and why was I the only one who could give it to him?
    My only theory was because I had been created with the ability to slip through the Streams of Consciousness without detection by the Dreamer.
    Why I had that talent, I don’t know. I think it’s because the Dreamer invented me for an oil painting he entitled “Blue Angelfish and Grilled Cheese”—not his masterpiece, but certainly a conversation starter—and fish are often symbolic of something deeper, more spiritual and ethereal, and thus we swim through cracks and channels in the mind silently and inconspicuously. So I swam freely in the Dreamer’s mind, between the Conscious and the Subconscious. But the Subconscious is not the most pleasant place to go, and if you go deep enough into that murky abyss, that’s where all the imprisoned ideas, thoughts, and memories dwell. Ones like my old friend, Typhoon.
    Typhoon had actually been created about the same time as I was, when the Dreamer was during a phase of his life called “high school.” Unlike me, as I flow calmly with the waters of life, Typhoon was a storm of adolescent aggression and fear, and after several therapy sessions, the Dreamer had to bury Typhoon at the bottom of the Subconscious to stop his fury from unleashing into the outside world.
    And now, in the middle of my work with the Dreamer as I helped him stir up some artistic ideas from the Creativity Pool of his brain, came a message from the Subconscious. I don’t think the Dreamer heard it—he has learned to not listen to Typhoon anymore—but I heard it clearly. Typhoon was asking me to slip away for just a few seconds to bring him a potato peeler. Not a real one, of course, just the figment of an imaginary one.
    “Oh, and don’t tell the Dreamer,” he said. “I wouldn’t want you getting in trouble and sent down here too on my account. I know I caused you a lot of grief, but we were born from the same Thought Seed, and I know as my brother, you will forgive me.”
    It didn’t sound harmful to bring him a peeler, even if a tad silly. Maybe all there is to do down in the Subconscious is peel imaginary potatoes. So while the Dreamer had to stop and take a lunch break, I slipped down one of the Streams of Consciousness to the abysmal Subconscious, with a potato peeler that I plucked from the Dreamer’s Memory Box.
    How was I supposed to know that Typhoon had found a thinning in the layer of Repression that was his cell, and only needed to peel away at it a little more to break free?

  57. assaultymcnulty says:

    “Dear John,
    It has been many fort nights since we’ve frolicked the grounds at Dublin Academy and it comes with no pleasure to disturb your command here in America but there is no one else that can get this for me, but you.”
    John Lyons sighed. He stopped reading and looked up, as a squire boy entered his office.
    “Yes?”
    “Pardon the interruption Governor, but the lady awaits your presence in the dining room .” The squire bowed, before being waved off.
    “My friend, we’ve laughed, cried and even bled together and we’ve always maintained that a true brotherhood never dies. You know me heart John Lyons and you know I’m no horse thief and I don’t have the gut for murder. I couldn’t give me alibi, for that night I was philandering with me best mate’s wife and it is of this, that I am guilty and hold much shame but I’m no murderer and I am no thief just unfortunately I am an Irish and who better to blame it on than an Irishmen. I’ll ask you to intervene in the judgment of death by hanging and pardon me name. For a man’s name is all he’s got. I beg you that you don’t repeat these words.”
    John Lyons put the paper on the desk, removed his spectacles and rubbed his weary eyes. He took his pen and soaked it in the ink, before signing his name.
    The Squire boy peeked in anxiously.
    “Sir?”
    John Lyons rolled up the paper and handed it to the squire.
    “Send a runner at once!”
    Collum Teehan snapped out a stupor when the hay hit his face.
    “On your feet scum!” shouted a slobby Guard before spitting through his teeth onto Collum’s barefoot.
    Spit debris and other awful things bounced off his head as they dragged him up the steps to the gallows, when the noose circled his head and fell upon his shoulders he begged for forgiveness toward the skies. A glimmer of hope, over the distant hills, rapidly approached in the form of a dirt cloud.
    “A Runner, please wait!” Collum shouted. The sloppy guard struck him in the head.
    “Shut your hole! Hang the bastard!” belted an angry villager. His bowl haircut hugged the confines of his homely mug.
    Everything went black when they placed the black sack over his head.
    “NO!” he shouted.
    Collum heard the rumble of the horse’s feet drawing near.
    “If the man has last words speak them now!” The magistrate shouted.
    “Please wait!” Collum shouted.
    The Magistrate raised his hand.
    The Runner flew off his horse before it stopped running and ran the scroll to the Magistrate who lowered his hand. Collum dropped with a snapping thud, his body shook violently and he grabbed at his throat.
    “The Governor of Massachusetts asks that open the scroll immediately!” the runner shouted.
    The Magistrate opened the letter and quickly skimmed through. His eyes sunk and his lips pursed with disappointment.

    “Cut him down!”

    • onaway says:

      This could make a great short story. More details, descriptions and research to the period would be needed I guess. Good job, I enjoyed reading it.

      • bwilson says:

        I like your premise, but was distracted by grammar and spelling mistakes. Please remember that proofreading is important. Lots of distracting goofs can easily be avoided with a thorough reread. Example: fortnight is one word. Also, the word is guts with an s, and the list goes on. The piece has a definite period feel, and I liked that, but would love a year to be mentioned early, so that there isn’t any confusion caused by an America with squires. Also, which America is it? There is, I’m sure you know, more than one, and each likes to think of itself as the main, “important” one. If this took place before it was a United States, you can say North America, but then that might include Canada, so maybe the mention of a specific town would help. Still, you have a good idea worth exploring.

        • assaultymcnulty says:

          Thanks for the feedback. My grammar is weak.

        • assaultymcnulty says:

          It’s actually gut for murder when spoken by a irish-american with a slight brogue. And it took place in Massachusetts as I described the Governor of Massachusetts. The Squire should’ve been a Page

          • assaultymcnulty says:

            Inthe late eighteen hundreds the Irish were disciminated against in Boston and no one would hire them. Many starved to death many were forced to steal to survive. Many waited outside of jobs drunk and beat up other workers so they could get a days work. My great great grandfather was falsely hanged for being a horse thief and it took our family 100 years to pardon his name

    • MCKEVIN says:

      Nice. Makes me want to know what happened next. Perhaps Cullom was hanged as well. Good job.

      • wilson hara says:

        Really enjoyed this and like how you left it. The ‘period’ is established in the first sentence (‘frolicked’. ..like that word!) and the rest of the story carries it on.

    • TimeChaser says:

      I didn’t like it much at all.

    • Birdee0809 says:

      I liked it. It’s hard to put in details with such a short word count but I felt it was very well done. I like the feel of it and I’m a sucker for anything historic. Good job.

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