A Newspaper From the Future

You are walking to your car when you pass a boy selling newspapers on the street. He doesn’t look like he’s getting any customers, so you buy a copy, only to discover that it’s dated a week from today. And one particular story makes you realize you need to take action—now.

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298 thoughts on “A Newspaper From the Future

  1. bilbobaggins321

    Even though people had warned me of driving myself into the ground too early, I had never really recognized it as a threat. Death was still distant, in my old age, not looking for me now with his scythe.
    That is, until that fateful Thursday, when I realized just how fragile life can be.

    I was 26, young for sure, thought I was wise, a businessman with a condo, and my own car. I was a living success in stocks. My brokers worshipped me. And then it all came crashing down like a house of cards, like it inevitably had to do. And it all started with the scraggly boy on the left curb.

    He was around half my age, apparently making a living for himself and who knows who else selling newspapers. I usually passed him by on the opposite side of the street, Starbucks in hand and the New York Times in the other. In some black hat of round shape and a grey coat, coupled with a red-striped scarf, he would sit at the entrance of an alley, hawking his papers. I hadn’t even seen one person buy anything from him yet, and wondered how he could afford to do this all day with no income.

    Right after I passed 4th street, he somehow met my eye from a block away.
    “Newspapers! Newspapers! Anybody need one? Just 50 cents!”
    The other people just swiveled around him, briefcases in hand, not even willing to look towards him, perhaps fearing that some pang of remorse would come, and they would partake of their hard-earned cash.

    My feet clip-clopped on the pavement, and I nonchalantly took a hot sip of the mocha, but I could still feel his blue eyes burrowing into my soul. The yards rushed by in long, professional strides, and I was intent on going past him, this intruder of my privacy.
    “Hey, you! Come here, if you want to live past tomorrow!”
    The remark shocked me, and, to save face, I pretended that I hadn’t heard him, that he was just mad, to my colleagues swirling around me. I shot an angry look towards him. According to the Rolex, I had at least four minutes to chew out the youngster before I needed to be in the elevator. Looking for any taxis, I ran across the crosswalk. I reached him, seeing him more closer for the first time.

    “Look, bud, shut up with these hasty prophecies. I-”
    He held up his hand, trying to apologize, to be nice and land a sale.
    “Mister, it’s all true. This article here says that you do, indeed, die tomorrow.”
    He threw a Times towards me, and I curiously caught it. On seeing the front cover, I slapped it down, about ready to call police on this young trickster. If it would work, he would probably juggle five chainsaws at once just so he could have a Lincoln in the weird hat.

    “I already have a New York Times. Nice try, but this paper I just read has nothing in it about me dying. Go bug someone else to buy it for you.”
    He had already prepared a defense.
    “Yeah, well, look at the date on the front compared to yours.”
    Hastily, I checked my watch, groaned, and looked at the one he had given me. It dated January 5, 2014, a whole week from now. Mine said the 30st, which was today.
    “Oh, that’s something called a typo,” I said in thick sarcasm. “And it looks like your whole miserable stack has the typo in it. Tell your supplier to recall them, and get out of here.”

    He appeared unchanged by my scathing rebuttal, still staring at me. He gestured at the paper.
    “The date is off, but so are the front articles.”
    I was startled when I saw that the front articles were, indeed, different. My mind was changed just a little in that fly-by moment.
    “Where’s the article that talks about my death?” I hurriedly asked him, sipping my coffee again.
    “Obituaries, second row, third from left,” he announced placidly.

    My fingers stormed ahead to that section, my eyes rapidly scanning down the ink. A subtle gasp escaped my lips. I looked up at him again, still staring, and I glared at him, and he looked away finally. I read through the whole thing, quite amazed that no one had bothered to report this yet.

    “Richard Gray, age 26, was struck by a taxi on the 1st of January, 2014. The night before, he was reported to have been drinking heavily at the nearest bar, and six minutes after midnight left. Ten minutes after that, taxi driver Harold Riechen was driving around the SoHo area when suddenly Gray’s car jumped the lane divider and collided into it. Both drivers were killed instantly, the windshield shattering. Gray is known to have been a well-established businessman, bachelor, and stocks associate on Wall Street. Currently, the Riechen family is threatening to sue the police for not properly monitoring the bars on this holiday.”

    My eyes were wide open. How could this be? I was torn as to whether to believe this paper or not. For just a second, I almost did. I stared back at the kid. Did he run some illegal printing press operation that tried to pass itself off as the real Times? The paper in my hand sure looked like the genuine article. Was I really going to die? But, alas, my pride of life blinded me at this critical moment.

    I handed the paper back to him, and he looked at me with sadness.
    “Tell your pals to send a notice to the Times office that they need to retract that obituary. I am obviously alive, and not dead. I am too busy doing important things to correct their lousy mistakes.”
    The kid retrieved the paper from me. His eyes spelt desperation, but I refused to listen to them.
    I turned on my heel. “Have a good day.” I threw a dollar onto the pavement from my wallet. I watched with a certain kind of satisfaction as he leapt for it, the look of joy on his face.
    “Maybe that will be enough to save him from selling crackpot papers,” I mused.

    My feet crossed the walk again, right on time for work. My heels clapped on the marble steps of the office building, the familiar regimen of checking in, smiling to the receptionist, the elevator, pushing buttons, flashed by, all so familiar to me. I sat down at his desk, peering out the window as he finished his coffee in the few minutes before his clients began pouring in. Far down below, I could see the kid down there still, now talking to some yellow taxi with the passenger window down. I witnessed the scene, amused, as the taxi flew away, the kid settling back with the same look amongst his papers.

    I heard my door click behind me, and I automatically switched back into business, serious mode, two stout men that I had been introduced to earlier lumbering into the soft seats in front of the hickory desk. My arms confidently spread before me on my pad and planner, I felt a surge of pride, and then felt it dim. I remembered the youngster, how he had rejoiced with the small amount of money. The rest of the day unusually slipped by, not crisp, the next like a fleeting memory. I never saw that little boy again.


    The doctors say that it was incredible, even miraculous. I can hardly believe that. Four days without work is hardly my cup of tea. But they insist on rejoicing, and I have to say that I did so as well. I had cheated the old reaper to grace the streets of earth another day.

    The official report was a car collision, sixteen minutes after midnight, January 1st. Oddly enough, my car hit a yellow taxi because I jumped the lane divider, just as the paper said. The driver had no ID on, and the body in the taxi was so mangled there was no hope of identifying him, but I had a hunch who it was.

    All I got physically out of the accident was a totaled car, three cracked ribs, and a complete fracture in my right leg. I also got a pretty bad concussion, which left me in a hospital gurney for three of the most miserable days of my life, tumbling in an out of dreams like some sadistic Chutes and Ladders game. But the doctors all said that it could have been worse. Just five inches in the wrong direction and I could have been killed instantly. It was that close, they say, looking incredulously at x-rays and charts.

    When I returned to work the next week, the kid with the papers was mysteriously gone. I wish with all of my heart that I could have thanked him for telling me, even when I didn’t listen to him. The weeks went by, and eventually I had it. I quit my job, moved to the West Coast, and started up a charity for orphans, writing short stories in the meanwhile. This is one of my first, an autobiography of sorts. I know it needs some work, but it is very special to me, for it changed my entire life.

    And if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s this: If a poor little boy asks for money in exchange for saving you from death somehow, give him five hundred bucks, take him home, and then give him another hundred, just to be safe. It’s worth it.

    1. bilbobaggins321

      In the second paragraph before the dash, sentence 3 should be this instead: “I say down at my desk, peering out the window as I finished my coffee in the few minutes before my clients came pouring in.”

  2. oceans-between

    I stepped out of the bakery in the wispy wind accompanied by mid-November sunshine. The forecast called for prospects of snowflakes and showers but the morning’s rays indicated a clear day.
    I sipped my coffee as I reached for the donut in my bag. I retrieved the chocolatey creamy goodness and took a big, indulging bite. The young boy at the corner had been eyeing me as I walked toward him and the parking lot my car was in.

    “Wanna newspaper?” He asked casually. His eyes were on me but appeared distant, as if he were staring through me. He was expressionless, slumped in front of the hardware store.

    I tossed him a few bills and grabbed one off the top of the high stack. Not a very profitable day, it seemed.
    He collected the dollars and stuffed them in his pockets. “Thanks.”

    I unlocked the door and sat down, tossing the paper on the seat with the bakery bag as I started off to the office. As I pulled into the lot of the news-prints building, a few peculiar thoughts ran across my mind that I hadn’t considered. I found it odd that I had a bought a newspaper, knowing I could get a free copy from work. I was also puzzled as to how the boy had gotten any copies, seeing as though they were to be printed and shipped today for sale tomorrow.
    I snatched up the paper and flipped through it, skeptically scanning the articles. Right away, I noticed a strange flaw. The date at the top was Nov. 10, a week from tomorrow. Several stories, like the coffee shop’s grand opening and the bakery’s 100th anniversary, had not even happened, let alone written about and printed! One snippet even talked about the inches of snow we’d received from the past week, but the ground was completely clean!
    My eyes moved down the paper uneasily, widening when I came across the bold ink letter at the bottom of the second page; “WEEKLY PRINTING PRESS ACCUSED AND CHARGED WITH FRAUD” I was outraged.
    I immediately stormed inside and into my boss’s office, slamming down the street-bought, fake newspaper.

    “Mr. Barkley! We’re being accused of fraud!” I shouted, confused.

    Mr. Barkley turned his chair around slowly and set his eyes on me. “Who said that?”

    I sat up and pointed out the window, looking for the boy selling papers. “That boy over,” I stumbled, but he was nowhere in sight.

    “Mr. Kramer, do you know what kind of reputation we are to uphold?” He focused his eyes on me. “I can’t have you talking like that. What if someone believes you?”

    “But sir!”

    “Go on, to work. I’m sure we would all appreciate it. Maybe we can talk about this some other time?”

    I nodded. “Right, some other time, sure.” And I stood up to exit the office, I saw, out of the corner of my eye, a tiny little snowflake fall and land on the window sill.

  3. DaniPhantom

    “Alright, same time next week?” I ask laughing as I give my friend Stephanie a hug and wave to the rest of our “Breakfast Club”.
    “Sure thing babe, see you then!” and she walks away.
    I had showed up late today and all the street-side parking was taken so I walked alone to the parking lot in back. Just before the entrance I saw a young boy selling papers, and he seemed odd to me; out of place. Maybe it was the newsboy cap and clothing pulled straight from the 1920’s, perhaps the almost comatose expression on his face. Whatever it was, my attention was certainly captured and I slowed as I passed. The boy’s newspaper stack was pretty high; it didn’t seem to be a good sales day for him. I dug in my pocket for the breakfast change and handed him four quarters for two papers. He handed me the two papers with the same expression and I hurriedly stuffed them under my arm, a little disturbed at this point. By the time I was driving out of the parking lot I had other things on my mind so I barely noticed that in the short time the boy and his stack of papers had gone as if they’d never been there at all.
    My first client wasn’t scheduled for another hour so when I got to my studio I set up the cameras, put on some coffee and relaxed. I only had three photo shoots for the day and had told my assistant to take the day off. As I sat my mind wandered back to the newsboy and I went to grab the papers I had bought. I didn’t enjoy reading the paper, working for a large paper for seven years has a way of turning one off from reading the lies they print, but I poured myself a coffee and settled in with the paper.
    I almost laughed when I saw the date misprinted as next Thursday’s. What kind of editor lets something like that go unnoticed? Shaking my head I glanced at the political headlines; it didn’t matter how much time I had, I wasn’t going to submit myself to that biased slander. I did catch that one of the headlines boasted results from a debate that was scheduled for next Wednesday, and that coupled with the misprinted date and the oddness of the newsboy had me feeling distinctly uncomfortable. I sat up a little straighter as I saw the headline on the second page, “Local entertainer Stephanie Markath still at large” and I began to feel a sick churning in my gut as I kept reading. According to this article Stephanie the woman I thought I knew so well was wanted for the murder of myself and three others whose names were unfamiliar to me in a restaurant downtown this evening.
    I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. There was no way this could be real, but the cold sense of dread wouldn’t leave my gut. I don’t know how long I sat there, holding the paper limply, gazing off into nothing. The buzz and familiar ring from my cell brought me out of my trance and feeling as if I would lose my breakfast I opened the text:
    From: Steph M.
    Sent: 9:18 am
    Message: Hey hot stuff, wanna meet up for some dinner tonite?

  4. area4hg2

    The Article
    I was walking to my car to see a boy selling news papers he didn’t seem to have any customers so I decided to buy one. I notice it is dated one week in the future, one article in particular makes me realise I have to take action Now!

    WOWZA! A stock market crash? Arding Stock Markets? NO WAY! I quickly skim through the rest of the article. Apparently an anonymous source from Arding Stock Markets “leaked” a snippet of information saying there were some shady characters in ASM that should be investigated, no police to be involved and so the journalist sneaked into the ASM main office, searching for proof, evidence, anything and what he found was bad. Beyond bad, the heads of ASM knew that there was to be a crash and had been hoarding all the money that had come in for weeks now and as soon as the scales tipped for a crash the heads would slip off the charts and disappear to their newly bought “private islands”. The reporter was frantic and rushed to the old publishing room in the dingy newspapers office but by the time the article was written and the paper published, it was too late. Too late?
    How? After all that, could he be too late?
    WAIT! Hold on. Wasn’t this paper one week in the future?
    The article says the crash was estimated to occur on the 7th of September today was only the 31st of august. There was still time! In a flash my phone is in my hand, my fingers texting up a whirlwind of words to my friends, family, old high school colleagues. There were so many to contact. I had to post it and paste it all over the internet. I jumped onto my moped and revved off home to spend an hour or five on the computer.
    Over the next few days my messages received many different types off replies, some friendly and thankful others… not so much. For example one of the non supportive but not so rude (swear wordy) replies was…. “What on earth is wrong with you? A stock market crash? Arding stock markets? NO WAY!

    written by 13 yr old

  5. DcTTre

    I went back to the boy and noticed he had a micro-chip in his neck, so I took A picture of it with my iPhone 5. Then suddenly I saw about 4 more kids selling newspapers that were dated 1 week ahead.

    Soon enough there were about 25 of them, and they all had micro-chips in their neck. Suddenly a smalll boy came out of of a small building with a big boombox, and starts to play loud crazy Party Rock Music. All the kids started to surround me and they all started to dance to the music all with the same moves, I looked at the article again and it said flash mob alert practice.

    After 5 minutes they all stopped dancing and ran away. Boom!!! I saw a BIG explosion, I ran Around the corner and all the chips on there necks had exploded. All the smoke from the explosin had formed a shape. It truns out that this was the the mobs practice that was said last week on the newspaper

    The name of the group was called the Extreme Jumpers. After that the little kid walked off silently like a ninja.

  6. reubixcube

    So there I was walking to my car when i noticed a boy selling newspapers. It looked like he had no customers so i went to buy one only to realize the date was dated one week ahead of todays date. One article caught my eye and I knew I had to act quickly.

    As I was driving I thought to myself “How could they possibly do this!?” I was thinking of something cold and harsh to say to the person who decided to make this happen feel dreadful. I could hear up above the repetitive sounds of construction – huge bulldozers revving up the driveway, cranes towering over the building. I had to act fast if I wanted to keep the smiles on the innocent kid’s faces.

    I sped down the lonely roads until i had reached my destination. I parked and quickly hopped out of the car. As I marched up the aisle , I went straigtht to the emotionless man at the counter.
    “Hello, how can…” The man started.
    “Let me sign the paper!” The man shuffled uneasily then went away to grab the paper. He came back with a long list of names and signatures, the top read “3000 signature petition to stop McDonald’s closing.” I grabbed a pen and quickly signed the piece of paper. It now had 3000 signatures.

    I sighed with relief, I had just saved McDonalds from being crushed like an ant. As I drove home, I looked over my shoulder to where the boy was selling papers and realized he was gone. No trace of his existence was left. It had been one week since I saved McDonalds and as I read the paper, I noticed it was one week ahead, an article caught my eye and I knew I had to act quickly. They were bringing down KFC. ☺☻

  7. laurentravian

    I pushed open my office building doors, and sipped my coffee.
    Billy was there, with his huge stack of newspapers. I sighed. Such a ham. He had an old fashioned newspaper cap, and a hopeful expression, like he needed the money BAD. The things that kid would do for extra credit in Drama. I walked over, as it began to rain. “Real or fake?” He smiled a gap-toothed grin up at me. “Real, Mrs. Vaughan. Class paper.” I smiled and paid him our agreed price, $10 per paper if real, free if fake and he would put up a hidden camera so I could watch my co-workers go crazy. I carried the paper home, and opened it up as it began to thunder. Ï was stunned. “Billy!” I hissed. The headline was, “Successful Lawyer leaves office to move to Ireland and become a druid” The paper was dated a week from today. Suddenly, my husband opened the front door. “Hello! May I see the paper?” He asked, planting a kiss on my cheek. He glanced at the headline and started laughing. “So you’ve found out my little secret! Yes, we are moving to Ireland, to get a job as druid performers!” I felt my left eye start to twitch. I loved Ireland, but I did not want to leave my successful law firm (I was on the cusp of Partner!!) to go become a druid. I did not want to run around in nothing but a robe in bare feet shrieking whatever druids shriek. “You spoiled the surprise! I was going to get the tickets to Ireland tomorrow!” I froze. “Non-refundable, one way tickets?” “Yes.” He nodded, merry and expecting joy. I took a shaky breath. “Lyle, I do not want to become a druid. I am about to be made partner, and I have no wish to go gallivanting about wearing nothing but a robe and a garland in my hair.” Lyle’s face immediately turned into his patented I’m-so-sorry-I-had-no-idea-so-can-you-please-do-it look that made my mother give her blessing to our marriage. 20 years later, we were almost on top of our anniversary and I had turned it down. His face instantly contorted with rage. As his hands found my neck, I glanced at the paper again. The new headline was, “Husband Strangles Wife in Petty Rage.” Crud.

  8. JohnBethlehem

    I hadn’t thought about The Varsity Theatre since my brother died a few years back. The two of us would spend summers working there with our father, who owned it, before it was burned down in ‘62. I recall most vividly the mornings just before work, dad buyin us Moon Pies over at Stubblefield Drug Store. Walking out, he would always purchase a newspaper from the little boy on the corner.

    Murray square is not the booming market it once was; my son found that out the hard way after opening The Bull Pen in 2007. It’s been here for five years but closed for four. The buildings on Murray Square act as storage for the most part. Much of it being city storage; once every few years cleaners will come through to organize and surplus items. I came today to pick up papers to fax to my son.

    Returning to my car, I noticed a little boy holding a bag of newspapers, standing on the corner. We locked eyes as I walked by but said nothing. No one had sold newspapers on these streets since I was a kid.

    “You selling papers?” I asked, approaching my vehicle.

    “Getting any business?” No response.

    I shrugged my shoulders and got in the car. I’m not one who is easily frightened but it was a little disturbing that the child was no longer at the corner but at my side window. He held out a folded Ledger and tapped the glass.
    “No thank you.” I said cracking my window. He slid it through, for his response, onto my lap. When I looked back up he was turning down the alley adjacent Rudy’s Family Restaurant (also closed). I got out of the car thinking I would follow but stayed put.

    My father ingrained into me to read the date first; no point in following old news. I wasn’t too thrown off by the fact that it was dated a week from now, with technology, you could fake anything. I was more so taken aback by what couldn’t be made up. The top story featured two pictures, one was a generic male figure, blacked out to show anonymity; the other was a picture of my brother whom I mentioned earlier. Even more unsettling was the headline; 50 Year Case Closed; Murder at the Varsity. Below the pictures, “In a journal discovered in cleanup above The Bull Pen, former Varsity owner’s son, William Warren, confesses to fire that killed 231 in November 1962. Accomplice being investigated.”

    The supernatural paper’s authenticity was not in question. No one could have known about that fire. Had I known he wrote it down in a journal, it would not be sitting God knows where above an abandoned restaurant. My guess is, it’s a warning to prepare.

    On the other hand, I made my peace with God a long time ago. I walked to the restaurant and thought to myself, “Maybe its best the past remain in the ashes.”

  9. Jessica

    I woke up to a knock on my door. When i opened it there was a young man about 12 or 13 standing there with newspapers. “Hello ma’am. I found a second newspaper in my driveway and saw you didn’t have one so i thought i’d give you this one.” The bag around it was blue even though his was yellow. “Thank you.I’ll go read it now.” I said with a smile. I pulled the newspaper out of the bag and layed it down on the kitchen table so i could get myself a bagel. Sat down wit the bagel and newspaper and started reading.
    I was looking at one page and noticed a title of an article. It read ’56 YEAR OLD ANGIE RAPPER DIED IN A CAR CRASH’. I was horrified so i quickly called my mother. “Hello?” “Hi mom. Just calling to see if you’re okay.” “Yeah, I’m fine. Hey i got to go i have to cook breakfast for your father.” “Okay. Bye mom.” I looked at the date of the paper and it said AUGUST 8, 2012. “That’s one week from today. I’m confused.”
    I read the whole thing. It said ’56 year old Angie Rapper, mother of Jessica Rapper and wife of Chris Rapper, died of a car crash yesterday, August 7, 2012. The crash happened at 6:42 p.m. Chris Rapper, in the drivers seat, crashed into another car who’s driver was drunk. Chris was injured with a broken arm and rib contusion, the drunk driver was injured and has brain damage and Angie chest was bleeding from a pen she was using to write when she suddenly fell asleep. By the time she reached the hospital she was dead.” “Oh no! I need to call mom and tell her not to leave then.” I picked up the phone and dialed my mother’s number again.
    “Hello?” “Mom, it’s a long story you might not believe but on August 7 don’t leave the house at 6:42. you will get into a car crash and you will die. Dad will have a broken arm and a rib contusion and the drunk driver with suffer from brain damage. Please mom, don’t leave because I love you and i don’t want you to die.” “Okayyy…. Jessie, are you okay?” “Yes mom. Just don’t leave the house and you’ll see. Bye.” “Bye.” I hung up and waited. When the days piled up to August 7 i called mom again to remind her. She said okay and hung up.
    All day i watched the news and sweated because i was so nervous. When the time was 6:42 i called my mom again. She didn’t pick up. I freaked out and got in my car and started to drive to her house. As i drove on a back-road i saw a car with their lights on bright. A drunk driver crashed into me. Last thing i saw before i died was two men in the back of an ambulance saying I’ll be fine and we’re almost to the hospital. I closed my eyes and drifted off into that never ending sleep.
    This is my first story on here and i hope you guys like it.believe it or not but I’m 11 almost 12 but this story takes place when i am 27.

  10. aishazoe

    Hi all! This is my first post. Looking forward to reading and writing with you all!

    The polyester lining of Yollie’s skirt bunched up between her thighs. Emerging from the metro escalators, she slowed down her pace so others could pass. Looking around, the only one there was a Street Sense vendor fanning himself. Yollie pulled at her skirt trying to look like she was ironing out wrinkles and not yanking fabric from her crotch.

    As she approached the vendor, she noticed something was off. He didn’t usually sport a dark bruise on his left cheekbone. The puffiness around his lips was also alarming.

    “Good…” she hesitated. He just got beaten up. What was so good about this morning? “Hi, Juhh…”


    “Hi, Jason. It’s really humid this morning, huh?” she peered closer at his bruises. Jason pulled back and looked at her askance with his left eye.

    “Sure. I seen plenty of folks walking up with big wet armpits and clingy skirts,” he chuckled.

    Yollie took half a step back. “Yeah, I guess. Paper, please?”

    “That paper there is real special.” Jason winked his good eye. Yollie quickly turned on her heel and stashed the paper in her ten-pound bag.

    She glanced back to see Jason getting into an argument with another vendor. Something about the wrong issue. She looked down at her paper and shrugged her shoulders.

    No big deal about that. More corruption means it must be Tuesday.

    Slowing down she realized the error. It was Thursday, not Tuesday. It must have been an old paper.

    In her office, Yollie shut the door behind her and dropped her bag with a thud. She cooled off her thighs on the AC unit.

    At least I don’t have to do a handstand. One less embarrassment. She sighed and smiled. When her thighs finally dried, she decided to relish the quiet office. She went out to reception to pick up the Post, which had the correct date on it.

    There was more corruption with the mayoral race. The investigators were now following a lead into certain PACs who put up heinous ads for the opponent to make the mayor look good. It was a twisted logic.

    At least our PAR is out of it. They had endorsed the incumbent.

    After perusing the Metro, Politics and Business sections, it was time to get to work. As Yollie emptied her bag, the Street Sense paper fell out. The headline story wasn’t old. She looked at the dateline. Coldness washed over. She leaned back into her chair. It gave way beneath her and ricocheted into the wall. She crashed into the hardwood.

    Someone rushed in. “Are you okay?”

    “I won’t be.”

  11. assaultymcnulty

    “Okay babe, I’ll pick you up at the ferry, Saturday night, about six o’clock” I said with excitement before ending the call.
    It must have been the look in his eyes, the desperation perhaps. Either way there was something familiar about him. As I looked him over I couldn’t recall ever seeing a paper boy at this corner. Right next to the west wing parking garage, where I’ve parked my car for the past twenty six years and even though I was pressed for time…I stopped.
    “Why are you so surprised? Printed media is obsolete.” I said matter of factly, as I pointed toward the pile of untouched papers that were stacked up beside him. He didn’t blink, but kept his eyes on me with a staunch glare. He extended his hand with the daily paper in his clutch.
    “I admire your effort but if you wanna sell that useless pile of trees, you have to be more excited.” I said attempting to lighten his dismal attitude. He remained speechless. I took two bucks from my clip and forked it over.
    “Ah what the hell you remind me of my nephew.” I said taking the paper from his tight clutch. No wonder he wasn’t selling any with a kung-fu grip like that.
    He stepped back expressionless.
    “I don’t suppose that will put you through college, but a thank you would suffice.” I said jokingly. The boy continued to glare at me with dark pathos in his eyes, so deep that for a moment, I feared he’d see my soul. I turned away as an immeasurable sadness suddenly overwhelmed me and when I turned back, the boy was gone. I checked all over the place including the Bus stop and Harry’s Dining car but there was no sign of him.
    “Hey kid!” I shouted into the thin air. My only solace was the daily paper I had in my hand.
    It wasn’t until I got to my car that I noticed the date on the front page of the paper. I took out my cellphone and checked the date, even though I’d seen it nearly a hundred times that day. It just didn’t make sense and when I read the Sports section headline on the back page, my blood ran cold. The Patriots defeated the Dolphins 34-16 in a game that I held season tickets to, a game that wasn’t supposed to take place until the following Sunday.
    “How the hell can this be?”
    My mind began to race and a spine tingling chill crawled up my back, my arms and fingers tingled until they went numb because at that moment I knew why I was holding this paper. I finally broke the paralyzing fright and tore open the pages rifling to the obituaries where I found my name. Douglas E. Stinehauser 56, CEO, of Stine corp. passed away from injuries sustained in an armed robbery. His body was discovered last Saturday night at his vacation home on Martha’s Vineyard.

  12. destinyalready

    Stonachy was walking towards his car when he saw a little boy trying to unsuccessfully sell newspapers. People hurried pass him as they went about their businesses. Some shoved pass him as he hurled and twirled to maneuver himself out of the passersby’s way. Feeling sorry for the kid, Stonachy extracted a five dollar bill and gave it to the boy, flashing away the change. He took the bill and smiled gratefully. Stonachy surveyed the front page of the paper and noticed that there was a man that looked awfully familiar to him. He had an afro, same facial structure and then he realized to his dismay that the man on the front of the paper was him! Underneath the picture read Man Wanted for Armed Robbery. He hurried inside his car and sat in the driver’s seat. He noticed immediately that the date was a week later into the future. He glanced at the kid; he was still trying to sell papers. The kid was completely unaware that Stonachy had just noticed something concerning the newspaper that he’d sold to him. Stonachy put the car in the ignition and drove off to his house and closed the door. He suddenly felt as if someone was chasing him. His grandmother told him about newspapers like these. He wondered if she were right. A newspaper that when you looked at it, it would tell you a noteworthy thing that would happen to you or someone else you knew. He never believed any of his grandmother’s tales of prophesying newspapers. She had died feeling like her son did not believe anything that she said to him. Stonachy knew very well that there was in no way form or shape that he was going to rob a bank. He was a successful single businessman that had a decent income, loved his work and had no problem living alone. Just then there was a loud thud and his apartment door tumbled down with a crash. Two large male in suits entered each aiming an M16 weapon at him, “If you want to live you listen now,” grunted one of the males, “You’re going to get me one billion dollars and if you don’t get it in a week your mom, sister and everyone you care about will die.”
    Stonachy came to the conclusion that he was going to be set up or framed as someone who robbed a bank, in a week from now.

    1. assaultymcnulty

      Interesting. Good imagination. I would suggest using more dialogue to tell the story. “Show don’t tell” otherwise great imagination.

  13. destinyalready

    Stonachy was walking towards his car when he saw a little boy trying to unsuccessfully sell newspapers. People hurried pass him as they went about their businesses. Some shoved pass him as he hurled and twirled to maneuver himself out of the passersby’s way. Feeling sorry for the kid, Stonachy extracted a five dollar bill and gave it to the boy, flashing away the change. He took the bill and smiled gratefully. Stonachy surveyed the front page of the paper and noticed that there was a man that looked awfully familiar to him. He had an Afro, same facial structure and then he realized to his dismay that the man on the front of the paper was him! Underneath the picture read Man Wanted for Armed Robbery. He hurried inside his car and sat in the driver’s seat. He noticed immediately that the date was a week later into the future. He glanced at the kid; he was still trying to sell papers completely unaware that Stonachy had noticed something concerning the newspaper. But he couldn’t brush aside the fact that the man on the front page was him! He looked around for the kid, but he seemed to have disappeared. He put the car in the ignition and drove off to his house and closed the door. He suddenly felt as if someone was chasing him. His grandmother told him about newspapers like these. He wondered if she were right. A newspaper that when you looked at it, it would tell you a noteworthy thing that would happen to you or someone else you knew. He never believed any of his grandmother’s tales of prophesying newspapers. Stonachy knew very well that there was in no way form or shape that he was going to rob a bank. He was a successful single businessman that had a decent income, loved his work and had no problem living alone. Just then there was a loud thud and his apartment door tumbled down with a crash. Two large male in suits entered each aiming an M16 weapon at him, “If you want to live you listen now,” grunted one of the males, “You’re going to get me one billion dollars and if you don’t get it in a week your mom, sister and everyone you care about will die.”
    Stonachy came to a conclusion that he was probably going to be set up or framed as someone who robbed a bank, in a week from now.

  14. Mimi828

    In spite of the lack of economic wording, misspellings and gramatical errors, the creativity was pretty good. Also, I felt the ending sort of left the reader hanging and a bit confused, at least from my perspective.

  15. The Wired Journal

    “Extra, Extra, Read all about It. Extra, extra” the boy was shouting as I approached the corner where he was standing. It was a sunny, but rather cool for late June. It was midday; there were people everywhere strolling here and there, many just passing him by. His shouts seemed to fall on deaf ears. He in return ignored the crowd and continued shouting his sales pitch and waving a news paper above his head. I didn’t have the heart to pass by without stopping and buying one of his news papers. With a sad look in his eyes and a nervous smile he pocketed the money, folded the paper, then handed it to me and thanked me.
    Once safely on the opposite side of the busy intersection of Park and Tremont Street I unfolded the paper and continued strolling down Park street to my car parked just a couple blocks away. Assuming it a typo I Ignored the papers date of the following week, and began scanning the headlines.
    ‘Update: Local man dies from injuries sustained after saving child’s life, from speeding traffic on Park Street last week.’
    I wasn’t aware of this incident he thought and continued strolling and scanning the papers headlines.
    ‘Latest polls show mayor holds favorable lead among voters.’
    ‘City council member commits suicide after arrested in major drug bust.’
    Startled suddenly by what I can only describe as a hysterical blood curdling scream that came from a women just a few doors up the street “O My God NO. My baby” I looked up from the paper. I watched in horror as a man ran into the street and push the child out of the way of a speeding car. The loud muffled thud sound was followed by the sound of breaking glass as he rolled up over the hood and into the windshield, and screeching tires, then a loud crash as the speeding car impacted and crashed into another car coming from the opposite direction.
    An hour later after giving my statement to the police, I continued on to my car still sickened and horrified by what I had just witnessed. But it was not until I read the next headline… ‘Family of four dies in tragic overnight house fire’ and looked at the photos of my home engulfed in flames that I felt A sudden intense burning sensation all over my body and an overwhelming feeling of fear, and terror. The anxiety and fear grew more and more intense with every step I took. The photos made me cringe and I felt an intensely painful knot in my stomach. A sudden shortness of breath overcame me and it became hard to breath. I could not believe what my eyes were seeing. This can’t be happening I thought O dear God. No; please don’t let this be happening. I feel to my knees sobbing uncontrollably begging god. No please; please don’t let this be happening. This can’t be.

    1. MCKEVIN

      I liked it. I love it when the writers here write a piece that puts the reader right there with character and experience the situation too. The only thing I would change is ” Family of four dies in tragic overnight house fire.” to ” Woman dies in Tremont streeet fire.” Other than that, I liked it lot. Good job.

      1. The Wired Journal

        Thanks MCKEVIN,
        Glad you enjoyed it, I love this site, the stimuli I get, reading the stories and comments. this was just a quick first draft and was not revised I agree with you the ending could have been much better is the time and effort was put into it.

  16. bobaman12

    You are walking to your car when you pass a boy selling newspapers on the street. He doesn’t look like he’s getting any customers, so you buy a copy, only to discover that it’s dated a week from today. And one particular story makes you realize you need to take action—now.
    One day, I was walking on the way to go buy Kimchi. Then I see a little kid selling a newspaper. I only had fifty cents. I felt bad for the kid because he wasn’t selling any. So I bought one newspaper from him.
    He said, “Thank you.”
    “Your welcome.”
    The boy seemed miserable and depressed because his job wasn’t going that well. I asked him how many copies he has sold.
    Then he said, “This was my first copy I sold.”
    I was suspicious why the newspaper wasn’t selling that well.
    I read newspaper and read it closely.
    The newspaper was dated the week after today! Then I figured why people didn’t buy this newspaper. I asked the kid where he works for.
    He said, “I work for Future News.”
    Then I followed him. We went to his house and the kid led me to a the future by going on time machine.
    The date was after a week when I bought the newspaper. Then the fact about the future was right!
    According to the newspaper, the President Bob had died. I saw the news of President Bob’s death in the television.
    One Arabian had murdered the President Bob. He had revenged President Bob because President Bob had effected the Arabians by making a bad decision.
    I figured out why the newspaper weren’t selling that well. The reason why the newspaper wasn’t selling well is because people in town thought the kid made up the newspaper and isn’t true, however it was true and people will be have confidence if they know about the future. People came to buy the newspaper and the kid became rich and was joyful. That day, I felt it was a dream, but it wasn’t.

  17. whaleium

    I was walking to my car to go home when I noticed this little boy trying to sell some newspapers. He asked everyone that he saw if they wanted one and they all denied his request. I tried making him feel better by buying a newspaper from him. After I bought the papers I went home to get and made a cup of coffee. I was reading the newspaper when I realized that the date was one week from today. Did the kid make a misprint or try to deceive the readers? I wasn’t sure why th date was like this so I went to the kid I bought the papers from. Once again I found the kid asking other people.

    I walked up to the little child once more and asked, “Where did you get these newspapers?”

    He replied, “I got them from the future and these events are things that happen in the future.”

    The main story on the front page was “3 Men Rob Bank and Kills13 People”.

    I asked him, “How’d you get here if you are from the future?

    “We have time travelers in the future so a lot of kids my age come back to the past to work and play around.” He replied. “I am from the year 2075 and I came back to the year 2012 and saw 3 men rob a bank and kill 13 people so I thought I could make a little money and come back a week before the happening and sell newspapers about what’s going to happen.”

    I asked him, “ Can you take me to the day this event occurred so I can see if you’re lying or not, and to prevent this event from happening?

    He said, “ I can take you to prove that I’m not lying, BUT you may not change anything that happens because the future may be ruined and all be different.

    He took me to the time traveling machine and we went to the future. At first we went to the year 2075 so that the little boy can prove to me that he wasnt lying. When I saw the future my mind was blown because the future had so much more technology than the present. We went back to a week ahead of the present to see the event happening. While we were watching it all go down I had really wanted to prevent this from happening, but i have to keep my word. “Now do you believe me?” he asked.

    “Yes now i do trust you because i can’t prove you wrong.” I replied.

    We went back to the present and i went home to let my mind rest and after that the little kid and i met at a daily basis.

  18. Mimi828

    It wasn’t enough that I awoke in a haze and a sweat having experienced a dream turned nightmare, but then, when I went to my corner newspaper vending machine I found it had been replaced by a young boy. Wondering what this was all about, since it was sort of a reversal of economics, I decided to find out.

    “Good morning, young man; I guess finally machines are being replaced by real people again, huh?” The boy shrugged, continuing to look at the pavement. He took the five dollar bill I offered for the paper and reached into his pocket for change which I waved away inferring the rest was a tip for him. He gave me the paper, quietly thanking me but with less enthusiasm than you’d expect from someone you just gave a substantial tip to; as a matter of fact he appeared to be in sort of a fog.

    In as much as the child had no interest in participating in any dialog, I continued on my way. I flipped the paper open to the front page and was quickly puzzled; the date of the paper was for a week from today. Spinning around to ask the boy if he knew why the paper was post-dated, he was gone, as was the stack of papers. As I looked around I noticed that the paper vending box was now back in place but empty.

    “Now things are getting weird; I know I purchased this paper from a young boy; where did he go? How did the paper box reappear?”

    Again I glanced back to the paper in my hand and noticed an article headline describing the attack of a young man who was found a few days ago left for dead. Sitting down on the steps in front of my flat, I continued to read. The article went on to say that the young man who had been in life threatening condition had survived the trauma and appeared to be going to make a full recovery. Gazing up from the paper I couldn’t help but notice that I appeared to be in a fog like you see off a wharf.

    I thought to my self, “Now this is even stranger. How could I be in a sea fog when I live in Nevada; I certainly am no where near the sea. So what is this haze?”

    Then it dawns on me. I’m not in a sea fog, I’m in a haze called a coma. The newspaper I’m reading is a report on my miracle recovery coming out of the coma I had been as a result of the attack. The young boy, he was me; when I was very young I had a summer job selling newspapers on the street corner near my home.

    Whew, now that was scary! Don’t want to go there or do that again!

    1. fbxwriter

      Interesting twist. I like the idea that his experience is coma-induced. I think the ending would have had more impact if your protagonist had to take some sort of action. For example, he could have been faced with a choice to pull out of the coma or die. Since you mentioned the sea, you could have even used drowning as a metaphor.

      Nice job.

      1. Mimi828

        Thank you for the critique! I agree about extending the ending; when I finished it it did seem to be cut short. Again, I so appreciate your time to comment.

  19. Cynthia

    I looked into Johnny’s big brown eyes full of concern for me. I must have sounded hysterical on the phone.
    “ What is it love?” he asked
    “Look 3 days ago, I was having my morning coffee at the café. You know, Sunrise café , right?”
    “You had coffee? I thought we were clear about the caffeine issue.”
    Ok, so I used to drink close to seven cups of low fat lattes per day, but after that infamous caffeine fueled meltdown that cost me my job last month and we decided to cut off coffee for good.
    “Look, I just smell it and throw the coffee away. This is not the why I called you here for …”
    He chose to stay silent and not nag me, feeling there was a greater issue at hand.
    “So there I was smelling my latte, when this young boy comes and tries to sell me a newspaper. I told the kid if there was anything really worth knowing about, I would know about it without having to read the newspaper. But he looked like he was about to cry, so I bought one. He then said good luck Mandy and ran away after that. He knew my name…”
    “He could have heard one of the waiters call you, by your first name. They are your “buddies” after all.” Johnny said this with a hint of sarcasm, I chose to forgive.
    “Please listen to me carefully. I flipped the newspaper to the entertainment section. In the now playing movies they had movies I know for sure they’re gonna be released next week. So it’s then I notice it was dated Monday the 30th. Here it is.” With that I presented him with the newspaper.
    “So it’s a typo, “ he said dismissingly.
    “No, look here they have a piece about the homeless man who won the lottery winner. “
    At this Johnny stood up. I could see he heard the story about homeless lottery winner this morning on the news.
    “You had this since Monday?” he questioned.
    “They have the winning numbers anywhere in the article?”
    “Yes, “ I answered confidently.
    “Why didn’t you play them?”
    “I don’t believe in the lottery.” I said mechanically.
    “Now look at the front page.” I continued.
    He read out loud
    “The Nightingale has claimed another victim this time in…”
    “In OUR TOWN “ I screamed, “look at the girl, the victim, in the photo.”
    He did not recognize her.
    ” It’s the café owner’s eight year old daughter! The Nightingale is that serial killer who targets children. THE MONSTER.!” I started to cry, I did not know what to do.
    “They find her body on Sunday. Maybe she’s already missing, I don’t know.”
    “Lets go see at the café” Johnny suggested and I jumped up right as the words came out of his mouth.
    I opened the apartment door, and there stood the very same boy who sold me the newspaper.
    “Good luck Mandy. There is a chance.” He said before running and disappearing in the long corridor.

    1. Cynthia

      This is the shortened version, i wrote a bigger piece, but since it’s max 500 words, this is what’s left.
      i put the whole thing on my blog: cynthiaattempts.wordpress.com

  20. JayleeK

    Karen smiled at all the great finds in her arms. It had been a good day of shopping; she’d gotten the perfect present for Susan and found a few cool items for herself in the process. This Hawaiian getaway vacation was going to be awesome. She was exiting the shopping complex, about to head back to her car, when she spotted a boy of about ten or 12 selling newspapers. The little kid looked so sad and it looked like he hadn’t sold any that day.
    “I’ll buy a paper please.”
    The boy beamed up at her and said, “One dollar.”
    She handed over the amount and accepted the folded papers. SInce she’d bought it she figured she might as well read it, so she one handedly flipped it open and scanned the headline. What she saw made her click her tongue at the sad incident, and she perused the article. It mentioned a day three days from now. Fairly certain it had to be a typo she checked the date of the paper and froze. Her bags slipped out of her hands and fell unnoticed to the asphalt. Karen whirled around and started heading back to where the little boy had been, but even from where she was, she could see that the entire strip of sidewalk was devoid of people.
    Wildly, she snapped the paper up to her face and read the entire front page article. Once she had again confirmed what she needed to know she rushed back over to her pile of dropped items and snatched her phone out of her purse. Each ring of her phone was torture as she waited.
    “Hello?” A voice finally said.
    “Susan, it’s me. Cancel the plane tickets to Hawaii.”
    “I’ll explain when I get home, just see if you can get them to refund you or reschedule them for another date. I need to make another call.”
    “Karen what are you-”
    But she’d already hung up and was dialing another number.
    “911 what’s your emergency?”
    “I need to report a possible terrorist attack.” Karen glanced back down at the newspaper in her hands once more and reread the headline: Terrorist Attack Downs Plane in Pacific Ocean. No Surviors.

  21. Icabu

    With newspaper in hand, Ellen sat on a sunny park bench and glanced at the paper’s front page. The large picture showed her bank – she was head teller. The caption lead read: Bank holdup kills eleven.

    Shocked, Ellen glanced at the date on the paper. It was dated for next Wednesday. It had to be a misprint. The story, too. It said the holdup took place at nine fifteen Tuesday morning. But next Tuesday’s date, not yesterday. Ellen had been there yesterday and there was no holdup, no deaths.

    Confused, Ellen went into the coffee shop. She noticed a man reading the same paper she had – the Daily Recorder. Squinting, she looked at the photo on the front page. It didn’t appear to be the same as what she’d seen on her paper. The man left, leaving his paper on the table. Quickly, Ellen went to the table and turned the paper over, revealing the front page. Now, the picture was of the bank.

    Driving home, Ellen’s mind reeled. She’d always thought she had a little ESP. She’d known her neighbor’s cat was pregnant before they’d decided to get her spayed.

    During the rest of the week, she kept asking her coworkers if they’d read anything interesting in the paper or heard anything newsworthy. No one said much and never anything about the bank being robbed and people dying. Thinking through the weekend, she’d finally decided she had to get the bank to close Tuesday, hopefully all day.

    At four AM on Tuesday morning, Ellen used her key and entered the bank’s back door. She lit the first Molotov cocktail and tossed it under the big drapes covering the barred windows. The second she rolled over by the rack of forms. The fires quickly roared to life. She quickly left the bank and raced home. She’d taken the morning off work, stating she had a doctor appointment.

    Sitting on her couch in her robe, Ellen watched the local news special report on the fire at the bank. It was now nine thirty – fifteen minutes after the robbery and killings were supposed to have happened. She closed her eyes in relief.

    The pounding on her door was loud and unexpected.

    A deep voice boomed through her door. “Police. Open up.”

    Curious, Ellen opened the door. A uniformed cop and a suited man holding up a badge stood in her doorway.

    “Ellen Johnson?” the suited man asked.

    Ellen nodded.

    “You are under arrest, Miss Johnson. Arson. We have a warrant to search the premises.”

    The uniformed cop put handcuffs on her, ungently, and Mirandized her.

    “No,” she blurted out.

    “Afraid so, ma’am,” the uniform said. “The bank has camera surveillance, you know.”

    Ellen hadn’t thought about the cameras. She was saving eleven lives. She looked down at the paper that she’d picked up last week. It was still on the table. On the front page, the picture of a family smiled out at her. The bank picture was gone.

    1. DMelde

      Good story. Poor Ellen. She saved all of those lives but she doesn’t have any evidence of it. Sometimes knowing what’s going to happen is a curse. I liked how the newspapers changing. Neat twist!

    2. fbxwriter

      Nice take on the prompt. The mention of Ellen’s belief in ESP and the changing paper fronts are good points. I think people would generally be very skeptical that a paper dated in the future is real. I had a little harder time with Ellen forgetting about the cameras, but your added line (She was saving eleven lives.) helped a lot with the credibility of that plot point.

      I really enjoyed your story. You built up the tension throughout, she had to make a tough choice, and the ending was a surprising twist.

      (But is Mirandized really a verb?!)

  22. YumChicken1

    I stepped out of the coffee shop onto the sidewalk and into the crisp autumn air. After a small sip, my breath turned to a light haze before me. I walked down the sidewalk of the main city street headed for my office building until I came upon a boy, no older than 15 perhaps. He was strumming on an old careworn guitar. The song was familiar, Lithium by Nirvana; something I had recognized instantly. I found myself to be thoroughly impressed. Any 15 year old kid who plays such oldies from a 60 year old band deserves nothing less than a tip. At that, I tossed a ten into his open guitar case right next to a little solid black cube, a download hub for the TeleTrack Weekly. The boy stopped playing just long enough to activate the hub. Within a second, my iPad XIV joyfully informed me that “the latest TeleTrack Weekly is ready for viewing.”

    The tablet quietly lay on my desk next to the now cold coffee. I was absolutely beset by work. Just a few weeks ago, I was sitting in my little cubicle making perfectly spaced spreadsheet cells and pulling up Solitaire every once in a while. That changed when Lena yelled something about life being too short, ran through the cubicles with her “Zombie 12 gauge”, then barricaded herself on the HR floor for 30 hours. My boss interpreted that as my readiness to move up in the company. Now here I am learning tax law, meeting with Japanese VPs, and managing the merger between dataDyne and TimeCorp.

    In the few short weeks after my “promotion” I found myself in the news fairly often. Usually it was for winning some high dollar government contract or fighting to help our lobbyists get some type of business legislation passed. Needless to say, that day during my brief lunch break when I finally did scroll through the TeleTrack, I was not surprised by the info bar that said, “Mr. A, your name appears in an article. Tap here to view.” I tapped the link. A brief sense of pride came over me. That was until the Obituaries loaded onto my screen. Confused, I scrolled down. Sure enough, there I was. The picture was of me, a strapping young 30-something shaking hands with the president. I could not help but chuckle. Someone was obviously playing a prank. “iPad, do me a favor,” another chuckle worked its way out, “would you please read my obituary to me?” My iPad conformably replied, “With pleasure, Mr. A.”

    A full color hologram of myself throughout my life hovered inches above the tablet. The hologram was narrated by a sweet female voice.

    “James L. Adriano, 34. Born March 8, 2024. Died August 15, 2059. A native of El Paso and a longtime resident of Portland, James Adriano was found dead with multiple gunshot wounds Friday evening at a private residence in the prominent West Linn area. A 15 year employee of the ReznorVega Advanced Weapons Systems Corporation, he began as a 19 year old warehouse attendant and through hard work and dedication, moved up the ladder to eventually become a ReznorVega VP. His death remains a mystery and rumors state it was the work of rival corporation dataDyne operatives under the instruction of the company’s CEO Arris Sevola. Mr. Adriano is survived by his beautiful wife, Brittney, and children Rosco and Amelia.”

    The hologram ended and there I sat in my chair for a solid minute staring at the empty space above the tablet. I was violently yanked backed to earth when my desk phone rang. When I answered it, a hologram of Arris Sevola himself appeared in front of me.

    “Adriano, my friend!” he exclaimed excitedly in his thick Russian accent. “Don’t forget! I am still expect you to my house next Friday on the 15th!” My heart absolutely sank. “Don’t worry Sevy. I’ll be there.” I told him, fear in my throat. “Excellent!” he yelled back. “Don’t you not forget now! It is of very important you make it!”

    With that, I ended the brief call. My mind started racing. This was a joke. It HAD to be a joke!

    Thinking quickly, I snatched up my iPad and scrolled to the top of the page. My fears worsened when I read the date, “August 5, 2059″, exactly one week from today. Expletives most accurately conveyed my next string of thoughts. “I have a wife and children,” I told myself over and over again. I thought to myself, “surely, I can’t die now. Arris knows I have a family, doesn’t he? The news doesn’t print a week in advance, right? Even in this day and age, they still have not figured out a way to tell the future, right?”

    Today is August 3rd and I have never been so scared in my life.

  23. radioPanic

    Something about the kid’s smirk should’ve tipped me off; Tom Sawyer after a month of hawking his Ritalin to playmates as x-ray vision pills.

    Stuck in traffic in my daily battle to escape the city, I watched him across two inert traffic lanes. Advancing one car length in forty-five minutes, I watched his sad little stack of Times disappear. Then, a knot of pedestrians came and passed, and the kid was cutting the twine on a whole new stack.

    I looked, but couldn’t figure where he might have been hiding the thing. I kept watching. Curiosity, and the idea that a brief change of scenery might prevent me from devolving enough to add my own off-key contribution to the hellish chorus of horns, drove one hand to the brake and the other to the door handle. Waving off charitable blasts of warning, straining to keep my middle finger precisely in line with the rest, I edged between bumpers and stepped onto the walk.

    “How much for a Times?”

    The kid held up his last copy as pedestrians shoved past, shoes tangling the empty cross of twine into the gutter. “Buck fitty,” said the smirk.

    I hemmed for a few seconds, then hawed, finally digging for my wallet, handing him two bills. Hell, judging by his clothes, he needed the business.

    “Thanks, sir!” he chirped.

    The horn section reached an animated crescendo as traffic inched forward.

    I mumbled thanks, weaving my way back to the car.

    I had time only to settle in and glance at the cover. “What the—!” I looked over, but the kid was gone!

    Oh, wait, there he was. Bent over, cutting the twine on another stack.

    I snarled, looking from the paper, to the kid, to the bumper ahead drifting away from mine.

    A fresh blast from behind calcified my resolve not to trust anyone in the city ever again as I wrenched the stick into drive.

    Fine. I’d just bought a gag paper dated next Thursday. My roommate hurled inspirational platitudes. “Positives, man! Life gives you lemons? Make lemonade.”

    I told him I hate lemonade.

    “Whatever. Use ‘em as slingshot ammo against pigeons. Drop ‘em from rooftops, see ‘em splat!”

    Fine. Positives: For one week I possessed an interesting conversation piece. A gag financial section dated one week distant, and two bucks less than the usual zero to invest in a market whose graph looks like the blip on a cardiac arrest patient’s monitor one week after the fact.

    I did what I could afford: I bought a lottery ticket.

    Positives: I earned a quick lesson in mathematics. A 6,800,000 jackpot, divided by 6,897 winning tickets sold—little punk was busy—netted me $986.00, just enough to bump me into the next tax bracket.

    Positives: I learned something about preparedness. I now keep a bag of gently rotting lemons in my trunk for if I ever see that brat hawking his wares at the foot of a building again.

    Positives: I probably won’t.

    I realize now that I didn’t strictly adhere to all the elements of the prompt. Oh, well. Also experimented a bit with run-on sentences, not sure if they work. Oh, well. I initially saw this prompt as a chance to write something positive, uplifting, maybe even inspirational. Oh, well. Better luck next time. :)

  24. Kae Lee

    I checked my e-mails again while eating my beignets at Chloe’s Café in downtown New Orleans. Nothing. I’d been waiting for the angel to reappear and give me another mission for weeks now but when he didn’t come, I figured he would try to reach me in a more modern manner so I checked my e-mails as often as possible.

    Leaving a twenty dollar bill on the table, I grabbed my black leather coat that hung on the back of my chair and headed out the door with a quick wave to the waitress. My long golden curls blew in the cold wind as I made my way to the car I had just bought a week earlier. It definitely made traveling this place a lot more difficult but was much less conspicuous than wings.

    A boy no older than twelve caught my eye but something was wrong about him. Everyone else I laid eyes on carried an aura but not this kid. Curious but cautious, I watched him carry his newspapers.

    “Hey! Whatcha got there lil man?” I asked him as I approached him.

    “Need a paper Miss?” He struggled against the wind to retrieve me a paper from the stack under his arm.
    “Thanks,” I replied turning and continuing to my car. Realizing I hadn’t actually paid for the paper, I turned around to give him some change but no one was there. The parking lot was completely empty.

    I glanced at the headline and gasped in horror. It read: “CHILDREN’S WARD AT LOCAL HOSPITAL CATCHES FIRE – ALL PERISH – ACCIDENT OR INTENTIONAL?”

    It was dated a week from today. This was my mission! Suddenly the paper I held began to glow and the letters scrambled across the page. Within seconds a name appeared using the scattered letters, David Krogan. He was the target. As an angel assassin, humans were unable to hide from me. The moment his name entered my head, I knew the address to find him.

    Thirty minutes later I pulled into the Best Western Hotel off Canal Street. I looked at the numbers of each of the rooms but only one of them glowed faintly, room 222. I moved quickly and kicked through the door with an impressive strength and now the door was smashed against the fall in front of me.

    A man in his early thirties was sitting on the foot of the bed, eyes wide with fear and confusion. His aura was black in color and I knew he was David without asking.

    “David, I’ve been sent by the Lord to smite you before any harm can be done to those children.”

    “What are you?” He asked, voice trembling.

    “Some call me an assassin of sorts. Others call me their guardian angel. You can call me Death.”

    I didn’t wait for the begging, instead I lifted my golden bow and let the arrow of holy light free. It pierced his heart effortlessly and he slumped over dead. The children were safe now.

  25. Mr.Es

    If Ashwin ever found out what I did, he would never speak to me again. I’ve been buying my paper from him every morning for the past ten years. But one cool, early morning, I noticed a boy on the corner, no older than twelve. He was ambitious, attempting to sell newspapers the old fashion way. I bought the boy some hot chocolate when I purchased my coffee, then made my way over to him.

    “How’s business this morning,” I inquired.

    “Slow, sir. No fish are biting.”

    I asked him to hold the drinks so I could grab my wallet, and informed him that he could keep the one in his left hand; it was for him to keep warm. He thanked me while handing me my paper, and I just tucked the item under my arm. I felt compelled to offer some advice before we parted ways.

    “You know, the newspaper is an outdated media. It’s going the way of the dinosaurs.”

    His reply was filled with an unwavering confidence, “It’s not as outdated as you might think, sir.”

    I smiled, and then headed back to the car. My partner was back at the station, waiting. The paper was for him, I quit reading it a long time ago.

    I had finished my coffee, so I headed straight to the break room to refill. I tossed the paper on a pile of old ones when Detective Josh Rollins, my partner, popped his head in the doorway.

    “Tell me you got the paper?”

    I directed him to the table.

    “Where’s today’s?”

    I directed him once more to the table, only this time slightly frustrated. “I just put it right there.”

    “This one? This is actually dated next week.”

    Odd, but I wouldn’t have given it a second thought if it weren’t for what Josh had said next.

    “This headline says ‘Missing Woman’s Body Found’, and the picture is of a woman that looks like the lady you’ve been seeing.”

    I snatched the newspaper from his hand, rubbing the whiskers on my chin as I scanned the article. Impossible, she was still asleep when I left. The article claimed Amy had been missing for seven days before her body was found. Without a second thought, I quickly dialed her number on my cell.

    She answered.

    “Hey Sweetie, what’s up?”

    Relief flooded my body, “Nothing. I’m just losing my mind.”

    “Well, while you look for it, hold on. Someone’s at the door.”

    Over the phone, I heard her open the door and exchange pleasantries.

    “I’m sorry; Detective Brian Northcott isn’t home right now. If you leave-“

    Before she could finish, the sounds of a struggle echoed through my phone. I screamed her name, but only to hear her screams in return. I raced to my car, hoping I could get to her in time.

    Then silence, the call was ended.

    I couldn’t believe it. Did I have only six days to find her?”

      1. jincomt

        I honestly didn’t notice the transition you refer to– I was so caught up in the story. This is a fantastic set up for a longer version– I hope you write it. Then let me read it so I know how it ends! You’re a strong writer.

      2. sarahbecker

        I concur with jincomt! Nice introduction and I’m curious if he finds her.

        One thing, and this may just be me, but the whole thing felt like it was written from a female perspective, and not a male. I know how weird (and, these days, somewhat irrelevant) that sounds, but the first paragraph wasn’t specific (not that it needs to be) but that was where my mind went until you mentioned whiskers; which I then assumed the main character to be male. Again, could totally be me, but I figured I’d mention it just in case.

          1. rob akers

            Yes great job. I agree with sarah. It does have a female voice. Nothing wrong with it but just what I think. You did a great job and I too want to know how it ends.

            Never noticed the transition so you can turn that frown upside down.

          2. Mr. Es

            Thank you my friend! That was the first sentence that popped in my head when I first started writing. The entire story some how evolved from that line, believe it or not.

        1. Mr. Es

          Thank you for the feedback. It was not my intention, but I wonder why that happened. Any feedback on how to generate a masculine voice without directly stating it would be welcomed and appreciated.

          1. rob akers

            Mr. Es,

            For me it has a femine voice because of the kindness your character displays. He feels guilt for buying a paper somewhere other than his normal spot, he is buying the paper for his partner not himself, he buys the paper boy who he doesnt know a hot choclate, All of these things happen before the story even starts so it tells the reader this is a kind, compassionate man. The problem is that cops are not kind compassionate people for the most part. They are rough, scared and cynical because they daily see the worst of society.

            His words back these traits up: You wrote…“How’s business this morning,” I inquired….A different way to say this is “Making any cash today?” and I would drop inquired, it is a soft word and adds to the femine voice.

            Then later you said: I felt compelled to offer some advice before we parted ways. “You know, the newspaper is an outdated media. It’s going the way of the dinosaurs.”

            This could be…I had to help the poor boy. “There are better ways to make money than pushing this outdated filth.”

            Your guy smiles before he walks off. A wink, grunt or head nod would would just as well.

            These are just some examples but changing anything changes the entire story. There is nothing wrong with a kind, compassionate cop who has not been scared by society. As a criminal myself, I drive too fast, it would be a pleasure, but this is not how most cops are.

            It is tough to offer specific advice and feedback because I dont know what your goal for the character was. But I would like to offer this. I think you are doing a great job and I am glad that you are working on your voice. It is tough to create characters and most people never try. I commend you for your honesty and I think your strongest atribute is your attitude. It will serve you well and I look forward to future posts.

          2. Mr. Es

            rob akers,

            I understand what you mean, and it is extremely helpful. Thank you. As I read it now, it seems as if a writer is telling the story of a detective; rather than a detective telling his (or hers) story.

            This is something I now look forward to improving. One must crawl before one can walk. With your help, I stand to be successful.

            Once more, I am extremely grateful, thank you. I, too, look forward to your future posts.

  26. mgb

    They might have to atone for it eventually, but for now, George and Barney proudly surveyed the chaos they created. The two were a spot of calm in the melee in the lobby of the downtown branch of Landmark National Bank. Confused bank employees sought refuge behind the granite fortress of the teller windows while Mr. Carmichael, branch manager, desperately called, emailed, texted, and IMed everyone in the New York office to see who could explain what was happening.

    “It said I can change mine to the 0% mortgage! I’m here before five. You have to count me!” yelled a voice from the crowd.

    George and Barney looked at each other and shrugged.

    A golf shirt-clad older gentleman saw Mr. Carmichael was between communication devices and showed him the newspaper. “This article says you want to help customers who’ve suffered in recent economic hard times. Is it true?”

    “Mr. Wellborn, this is the first I’ve heard of such an offer.”

    The beleaguered manager pulled out a wadded up handkerchief and wiped his forehead. “They quoted me? I’ve never talked to a Daily Star reporter—ever. And Look at this! The date’s wrong—that’s next week’s date! Am I in the Twilight Zone?”

    A voice said, “Date’s a typo. You just don’t want to make good on your offer of 0% mortgages. You don’t care after all!”

    “Everyone, please be patient,” said frazzled Mr. Carmichael.

    George and Barney had seen enough and left for O’Malley’s where they took their usual seats at the bar.

    “Tyler was on the corner of Main and Commerce, so I bought a paper—for posterity. What a natural–he didn’t let on,” said Barney as the bartender set their icy steins on the bar.

    “Guess people miss the days of boys on sidewalks selling newspapers. Thanks, Hollywood!” said George before taking a big gulp of his Guinness. “Yeah, they really got into it, especially considering we only gave them ten dollars for a morning’s work.”

    The two raised their steins to George’s nephews.

    “Poor Mr. Carmichael was completely unglued.” George shook his head, chuckling at the recollection. “I’m glad you finally got through the tough years on that crazy rate mortgage you got from him. Bet you’re glad to be down to only one job. How many other Landmark customers had to deal with those huge payments? Everyone in that lobby!”

    “Yeah, I’m glad to be out from under that.” Barney raised his stein again. “Mr. C. won’t have to make good on the offer, but he sure will remember this day! Putting next week’s date was genius. ‘That run of downtown papers was full of errors,’ they’ll say. ’The system messed up—look at the date,’ they’ll say. Then the master file on the computer’ll have the right date and won’t have the bank article.”

    “You know, everyone thinks the power of the press is just the investigative reporters and TV personalities, but today George, press operator, and Barney, warehouse distribution coordinator, showed them differently!”

  27. ckelley

    Refreshing. This was my first though when I saw the young teen hawking newspapers, no cell phone in hand, working hard to make the almighty dollar. Reminded me of myself as a kid when I delivered papers.
    “Hey kid, you have the Herald?” I asked.

    “Of course, what kind of business do you think I’m running here?!” He replied while laughing innocently. I liked him immediately. I gave him five dollars and walked away, it was the least I could do. The always busy Beacon Street was empty and he did not appear to be getting much attention.

    The encounter left me with a smile on my face and a rejuvenated sense of worth for the younger generation, I chose to ignore the mid-twenty something with purple hair and spiked boots walking by.

    I found myself at the Celtic Cafe, my usual coffee shop, I sat outside overlooking the picturesque Beacon Street when I decided to rifle through the Herald. What smile remained vanished quickly with the turn of a page. People say that a picture is worth a thousand words, but this one was tantamount to a hit to the head, confusion swept over me, I began to question everything about the morning.

    Rarely do things happen that literally render someone speechless; however, this happens to be one of those occasions. The photograph depicted the Celtic Cafe, with a hatchback through the front of the building, ambulances surrounding several victims. I turned over the paper and looked at the date, it was dated tomorrow, Friday the 27th… “How can that be?”

    The caption of the photograph stated: four injured and one dead in yesterday’s car accident at the Celtic Cafe on Beacon Street. Confusion was quickly replaced by panic and fear, fogging my mind. My breathe was stripped from my lungs and my chest began to tighten. I surveyed the area, four people were waiting in line to get their morning coffee. Suddenly horns blare and brakes screech, the sound of crunching metal, breaking glass, and crushing brick brazenly filled the air. I tried to yell something, anything, but it was already too late.

    My last thoughts were with the boy, was he perhaps a guardian angel, trying to tell me what was going to happen and giving me the opportunity to act? Or was he not as innocent as he seemed, maybe an image of death, proving to his victims that you cannot escape his cold grasp?

    *** This is my first post and the first thing I have written in 3 years, I have never done creative writing before, but please let me know what you think and be critical as possible! Thanks for reading everyone!

  28. clillianjohn

    The rain beat down as I ponder going on through the revolving door to freedom from this long day. I wander back into the lobby for a paper and a cup of coffee to pass the time as well as save my new heels from water damage.

    “Business slow?” I ask the teenager while smiling and reaching for a paper on the newsstand.

    “Yeah,” he smiles back. “Don’t take that one,” he urges, “here’s a fresh copy. Untouched.” He hands me a paper from under the counter.

    “My lucky day,” I respond. I’m no germophobe, but I could be with all the flesh-eating bacteria scares.
    “Keep the change,” I say as I wave off the coins he has at the ready.

    “Thanks!” he smiles. I’m off to get my over-priced coffee.

    Once settled, I eagerly turn to the comics and crossword page in the local section. One clue from yesterday had stumped me. Disappointed, I see that this puzzle is not the puzzle I worked on yesterday. Irritated that I tipped the boy for an old paper when I have one waiting at home, I crane my neck to see if he’s still open.

    But he is gone. Not just him, but the entire operation. Do they always put the whole thing away? I wonder. What I’d just seen didn’t seem particularly mobile.

    Grudgingly turning back to the paper, I check the date. I laugh out loud. How could a major paper get the date wrong by a week in advance?

    I glance over stories as I return to the front of the local section, and a photo on page 3 provides irrefutable proof that something weird is going on.

    A picture of me in a dress that I purchased online yesterday and have not yet received accompanies the headline “Mayfair Town Day Big Success.” Dumbfounded, I learn that the weather was perfect, and the day properly reflected the city’s somber mood, thanks to the new Town Day Coordinator.

    I am the Town Day Coordinator, and the Parade is next Wednesday.

    My stomach is churning. I am glad to know my efforts are well-received, but I have no idea how I’ve helped the City heal, nor even from what.

    Skimming the articles on back to the front page, I immediately see it. “Local Star Athlete Latest Victim of Bacteria in Mayfair Lake” the headline screams to me and I freeze. My inability to move is not from the notion of the bacteria, horrible as that is. Nor is it from the coincidence that I had just been thinking about germs when I took the pristine paper from the teenager. My disbelief beyond comprehension is from the picture of a smiling, confident, blue-eyed, blond teenager with clear skin so beautiful it looks like an ad for acne prevention medicine.

    It is the newsstand boy.

    1. wilson hara

      I liked this story.
      I had to read it a couple of times before I got it. I thought the references to the pristine newspaper etc were good, the athlete coming back to warn/ help her, also good; the fact she doesn’t know how she’s helped is very very interesting.

      1. clillianjohn

        Thank you! I just discovered these writing prompts and I’m looking forward to writing more and hopefully improving. Thanks again for your feedback.

  29. ruebez7

    This is my first attempt at participating in any type of creative project like this and it seems I botched my effort to send the perfect comment. The first line has an error that I overlooked just like Buddy was overlooked when he was being searched for:). It’s supposed to read, “Awakening to a day seemingly like any other I forced myself to get from under the cover” not ” Awakening to a day seemingly like no other”


      1. wilson hara

        Thats what these prompts are for : practice, feedback etc. The premise is good, I’m not sure about the investigator/police, surely they’re not that stupid? Or are they? Poor Buddy! Sometimes we can’t immediately see the mistakes we make, it’s not a bad idea to wait a while, then re-read. I’m looking forward to reading your entry next week.

        1. ruebez7

          Thanks! By the way, the name of the newspaper is the Sillyville :)what do you expect out of authorities in a town called Sillyville:)! I was just being silly:)!

        2. ruebez7

          Thanks! By the way, the name of the newspaper is the Sillyville Star:)what do you expect out of authorities in a town called Sillyville:)! I was just being silly:)!

  30. ruebez7

    Awakening to a day seemingly like no other I forced myself to get from under the cover. Headed into the restroom and begin my daily routine. Now dressed and out the door I saw someone looking strange at me. I brushed it off and kept going to my car. I saw a young boy selling paper. The Sillyville Star. He hadn’t sold many, so having a constant sense of a liability to give back to the community, I bought a paper to take to work with me.
    Now in my car,. I lglanced at my watch to see how much time I had to make it to work. Knowing I’d run out of opportunities to be late. I had plenty time to spare and that meant I could stop and get breakfast. My stomach was growling like it had been a long time since I last ate.
    Looking at the paper that I bought I was shocked to see the date at the top. My mouth could do nothing but drop. Something had to be wrong with this. The date was a week away. It was just the 7th yesterday and I was looking at the 14th. Something was array. It was supposed to be the 8th today. I was in dismay because I’d never known the paper to err this way. My phone’s battery was dead so I couldn’t look on it to see what it said the date was presently. ” What”, I asked myself,” is happening with me.”.
    My neighbor walked up then, and asked me, “Where have you been?”. “What do you mean?” I asked in reply. “There are pictures of you out as a missing person. You didn’t show up for work last week and none of us saw you. The maintenance man said he checked your apartment and you weren’t there and all of your personal things were gone and then it was searched by the police. There have been detectives and cops in and out of here all week. This complex has had no peace.”. “They checked where? How did someone check my apartment and I was in there?”. “Don’t ask me. I haven’t been anywhere past apartment 173″ ” I don’t live in apartment 173 I live in 160.” “Whoa. If that’s true, whoever is in charge of this investigation is suffering from a bad case of stupidity.” “So you slept for a week Buddy?” ” I could have because I have a condition that causes me to go into a type of comma occasionally.” “Really?” “Yes really and it’s happened before but my wife would make sure I was okay. As you know she left me. I worked too much to keep her happy, and since she left I hadn’t tried to make any other attachments in this city. I knew it wasn’t good for me to be alone but usually I snap out the comas in a day or two. This time it was longer. Now I’m going to the hospital instead of going to work thanks to you.”
    Come see me when you come home and we’ll get to know each other better by days end. Your no longer alone Buddy, you have a friend.”

  31. JWLaviguer

    reposting as first attempt is still waiting for moderation. must have been the h3ll word in the first version lol

    “Will you buy a paper, sir?” The boy startled me from my thoughts.

    “Sure,” I said, not really paying attention to him as I tossed him a quarter. “Keep the change.”

    He smiled and said “Thank you sir!” and bit down on the two-bit piece. I turned back to say “you’re welcome,” but before I got the words out of my mouth, he was no longer there. I pulled my overcoat tighter as I hurried to the car, and then tossed the newspaper on the passenger seat as I climbed in. I turned the key, and the engine rumbled to life. I let it warm up for a few minutes, and grabbed the newspaper. I skimmed the first couple of pages, not really caring that none of the stories sounded a bit familiar. I have been preoccupied lately, I rationalized, until a story on the bottom of page 3 made my heart skip a beat.
    “Washington D.C. man charged with fatal hit and run” was the header. I stared at the photo in the paper in disbelief as my own eyes stared back at me. “This must be some sort of sick joke,” I muttered. I closed the paper and looked at the front. It was the Washington Post, so that was okay, but the date was totally wrong; it had next week’s date on it.

    “What the heck,” I said. “Somebody sure went to a lot of trouble for nothing. I’m not falling for it.” I leafed through the rest of the paper, half-expecting the remaining pages to be blank, but they weren’t. I was actually kind of amused by the apparent time and effort it took to produce such a realistic product. I drove home and decided to enjoy a cold beer while reading through this so-called newspaper. I pulled out of the parking lot and turned the corner, but a police car was there blocking the road and an officer was redirecting traffic. Up ahead, an office building was on fire, and it was really bad. There were four fire trucks in front battling the blaze.

    “I hope nobody’s in there,” I thought, and continued home. I pulled into my driveway and grabbed the paper. Once inside, I hung up my overcoat by the door, tossed the paper onto the kitchen table, and pulled a beer out of the fridge. On the top of page 4 was a photograph that looked familiar. The headline stated “Cause of downtown fire still under investigation.” The photo was the exact scene I had just passed on my way home!
    That made me pay close attention to every single story in the paper. With every passing day, every single story in that paper relayed events exactly as they played out. I convinced myself that if I never left the house on the day the paper said I killed someone, that it would never come to pass.

    That’s the last thing I remember until I woke up in a hospital bed.

  32. M.J Nosi

    The dismal day had dragged on. Would it never end? Matthew thought to himself. He had actually taken a half day, wanting to surprise his wife. Do something spontaneous, show her he wasn’t such a square after all.

    He smirked as he thought of the shock on her face when he turned up at home, flowers and a roll of condoms in hand, four hours earlier than usual. Talk about spontaneous.

    The sweltering heat of the bustling train carriage caused miniature beads of sweat to dot his forehead.
    “Can’t wait for a cold one,” Matthew whispered to no one in particular.

    He stifled a yawn. The abrupt jerking of the trains’ movement was the only thing keeping him awake.

    Another twenty minutes and I’ll be home, he thought wistfully.

    When the train did slow to a grinding halt, Matthew bolted for his favourite convenience store, Lucky One.

    The corners of his mouth turned up as he read the Glowing neon sign above the entrance. Lucky One.

    “Might have to take that home with me,” he chuckled to himself.

    “Same as always, my good man,” Matthew said, bouncing on the balls of his feet.

    “You’re in a good mood…?” the store clerk replied. It was more of a question, but in his jubilation Matthew took no notice.

    The store clerk threw him an unsure look, raising his eyebrow as if to say, “what the hell?”

    “All out, sold the last one to some freaky kid.”

    “Never mind that, then. Hit me with a roll of rubbers, and that bunch over there,” flicking a finger to a bunch of bright, exotic flowers. He paid and bounced out of the store, before noticing the kid, cross legged on the ground, reading the newspaper.

    “Hey, buddy, reckon I could buy that from ya, dude,” Matthew said, his best impression of youth causing the second person in two minutes to look at him like a crazy man.

    The kid smiled airily. Probably doped up on something, Matthew considered.

    “Yours for free, I’m done. Dude.”

    Matthew watched as the kid ran off, laughing out loud.

    The drive home was record time, anticipation of the steamy afternoon playing in his mind. He glanced at the folded newspaper laying face up on the passenger seat. In the brief moment he noticed the typo on the date. It was dated exactly a week from today.

    “Week early, morons,” he snickered.

    His eyes darted back to the road, and then back to the paper. He scanned the headline – ‘Heat wave causes chaos: Surprise Adultery – Man butchers brother for sleeping with wife’ before returning his sight to the road.

    “Unlucky bastard,” he said with a shake of his head, while swiping the back of his hand over his sweaty forehead.

    As he rounded the corner and his house came into view, Matthew noticed the green wagon that belonged to his brother, parked in the driveway – he had not visited for three years.

  33. sprattcm

    Gabriel slouched in an uncomfortable wrought iron chair outside an indistinct coffee shop on third. He morosely nursed a stout black cup of coffee and an epic hangover from behind a pair of red tinted lenses. Even though it’d been 16 years for him since he’d taken his vows, people watching never got old.

    Half a block down, across the street, a young girl walked her dog. She disappeared briefly and just as suddenly returned. Gabe casually inspected her temporal aura and traced the ephemeral filaments that tied her to her perceived time and place. Gabe took a sip of coffee and concentrated until he found the moment where the girl’s essence bifurcated. He lost interest after he realized the weight of his scrutiny collapsed her wave function, returning the girl to her previous path.

    Across the street on the corner of 3rd and Jackson, Gabe noticed a young boy hawking newspapers. The kid wore a Lundberg Stetson and a rumpled, ink-stained linen shirt. Jackson bore heavy pedestrian traffic and a woman carrying a small parcel walked straight toward the newsboy. While she was completely oblivious to his presence, he seemed to notice her and casually stepped to one side to let her pass.

    Now that is interesting, Gabe thought to himself.

    Gabe had seen sensitives – people who seemed to have a higher sense attuned to the bones of chaotic, frenetic multi-verse they inhabited. They’d appear to suffer a chill or pause thoughtfully whenever they experienced a spatial superposition. Never before had he seen someone who demonstrated an acute awareness of an entity from another time existing in the same space.

    He studied the young man and his temporal aura. He teased apart the fabric of space and time and imagined standing slightly behind the boy. The tingling he felt in the back of his head telegraphed subtle differences in the earth’s magnetic field that gave him a sense of his place in time: He didn’t need the boy’s clothing to tell him he was somewhere in the 1920s. Gabe was just about to reach out to tap the boy’s shoulder when he turned around.

    “Paper mister?” he asked.

    “Why yes, I think I would like one, sport.”

    Gabe reached to his breast pocket for his wallet when the boy shook his head, “You’re money’s no good here mister.”

    “Don’t be silly chap. How about two bits?”

    “Sorry mister, your money’s no good. Those coins are twenty-second century replicas. Don’t worry about it mister. Here just take one.” He handed Gabe a paper.

    “Son, how do you know that?”

    The boy smiled and vanished in a way Gabe was at a loss to explain. He reached out, searching for the boy’s essence, but felt no traces. With a building sense of dread and panic, he reached out to the essence of Father Murphy. The saintly old man’s sudden presence at his side was a great comfort.

    “Father, I’d found a rogue thread but he escaped.”

    1. JR MacBeth

      Good story, great descriptions, and some sci-fi / paranormal lingo that worked well. Not sure about the end, the sudden introduction of Father Murphy, in spite of the brief initial reference to “vows”. The shift still seemed too abrupt. Perhaps another 50 or 100 words could have made that feel more natural.

      1. sprattcm

        Thank you for reading. I completely agree – this would have been a good 800 word prompt. I felt completely cramped like I’d opened too many cans of worms without enough time to work through it all.

  34. aikawah

    January 28th 2009, 11:29am, ENTRY:
    I wake up standing, in the middle of a swirling crowd on Kimathi Street, five hundred strong if not more. A fire is blazing from the front entrance and windows of Nakummat Supermarket, thick black smoke billowing upwards, blotting out the sky. A lone administration policeman is struggling to control the crowd, swinging his baton hard enough to maim. I raise my right wrist automatically; there is no watch. I’m wearing a grimy set of blue overalls stained with engine grease. My host was a mechanic I guess. I check the pockets for a mobile phone, nothing there but a screwdriver. I tap the shoulder of the man in front of me, ask him for the time. Its 11:30am.
    I’m in the source code, operation ‘FireBomb’; and in exactly seven minutes, a bomb in one of the cars parked nearby is going to wipe out four hundred and thirty-five people if I don’t stop it.

    January 29th 2009, 11:50am: MISSION BRIEFING:
    At 11:37am yesterday a terrorist attack killed 435 Kenyans on Kimathi Street. The terrorists first set off a smaller explosion in a supermarket triggering a fire that attracted large crowds against which the second device, a car bomb, was then deployed. Information coming in from crime scene detectives indicates that the detonation was by a remote device whose maximum range could not have been greater than 100 metres. The car’s rear window was marked ‘for sale’ and it had been parked there since the previous night. Find it, defuse it, and if possible find the killer. You’ll have eight minutes between entry and exit.

    January 28th 2009, 11:32am:
    I force my way through the surging crowd, trying to get to the nearest newspaper stand. I spot the kid with his bundle of newspapers at the back of the crowd, ignored now that the news costs nothing to see.

    ‘Wewe kijana’ I reach for my wallet ‘Hebu leta gazeti.’ The kid runs up, elated. The wallet I open is empty save for a twenty shilling coin at the bottom of it. Fuck.

    ‘Nation ama Standard?’ he asks.

    ‘Kuja’ I say, running towards the parked cars.
    Two of them are Mazdas, like the one that exploded. One is riding lower than the other, its boot heavy with something. I get close enough to take a good look without appearing to be a potential looter. The wire running through a hole on the trunk probably means a booby trap. I grab a newspaper from the kid and open the classifieds.

    ‘Unanunua gazeti ama unaangalia tu?’ the kid asks, still out of breath.

    Mazda KAC2039 for sale, call 0720927655; it’s the number that called the police station to claim responsibility for the Al-Shabaab. I give him back his paper and the twenty shilling coin.

    ‘Kijana’ I hold him by the shoulders tight, ‘Kimbia na usirudi hapa tena leo.’

    He stares at me in surprise, and then takes off in a hurry. Good kid, that’s one down four hundred and thirty four to go. I glance up at the city clock; I have only three minutes left. The man in a brown suit doesn’t notice as I pick his phone from his pocket. Good thing he wasn’t taking pictures.

    January 28th 2009, 11:34am:
    There are few places where the person with the detonator could be. The one with the best cover is the passage through the Hilton Arcade nearby; he could simply walk through it after the act and be on the opposite street in minutes. Right across from Kencom, the city’s busiest bus stage. I call the number from the ad, running as I do. The arcade passage is a bit dark afer the brightness of the daylight and fire outside but I see the man in a kanzu pick up his phone. I shout into mine and he winces, drawing away his phone from his ear, making the woman behind him stop in surprise. It’s enough.
    He notices me after I’m upon him, clamping a hand over his mouth, drawing his head left and back to expose the neck, plunging the screwdriver into his suprasternal notch. A clean kill. People are screaming around us as he crumples to the ground. I search his pockets for the detonator, nothing there.
    I look up; the woman who had been walking behind him is still standing there, her hand in her purse, her face wet with tears and shock.

    ‘You cannot stop us’ she says.

    January 28th 2009, 11:37am, EXIT:
    The shockwave slams me as well as the struggling woman into the curio shop’s display window, impaling both of us on the fake Maasai spear. I have failed. I didn’t even save the mechanic. I hope the next operative will have better luck.

    Source code out.

    1. DMelde

      Great story aikawah. I loved the first four words of the story — “I wake up standing”. Great job of weaving back and forth from one day to the next. I think globalvoicesonline.org had some lessons on how to talk Swahili a few weeks back. I’m going to try and archive them. The story didn’t seem long at all either.

    2. fbxwriter

      Interesting! I enjoyed the movie as well as your take on it. The Swahili threw me off at first, but I quickly realized you wrote the story so that the reader could understand what was happening without understanding the language. Good job.

      I’m curious why you ended it the way you did. As I recall, in the movie they sent the same guy back several times. That made sense since he learned new things each time.

      A logic point: I doubt his mission would be to defuse the bomb if it was sent off by remote rather than a timer. Unless, of course, his bosses wanted him (or his host) dead.

      Fun read.

      1. aikawah

        Its a while after the events in the movie and they can now send guys who are still alive back, so they have ‘Source-Code Agents’ but each one can only go in once cause multiple entries mess up your head if they are too close together and you start to return with parts of the host’s psyche and memories… instead the agents have to relay the info they gather to the next agent who must be ready to go in immediately. I had quite a bit of explanation that I left out of the prompt. Thanks for the logic point though, I’ll need to cook up a different bomb next time. Glad you enjoyed it.

    3. Mr. Es

      Very intense and fun read. I agree with fbxwriter, the Swahili is initially confusing, but the reasoning for it quickly becomes clear. I feel as if it helps the story.

    4. zo-zo

      Great pace and really interesting structure, Aikawah – that made for a very good read. I really love how you use your own land in your pieces – that’s a challenge to me, to include my setting in my work.

  35. Hannah Reed

    Outdated by Hannah E. Reed
    His face was pale. His hair, his eyes were dark. His lips seemed permanently in a frown. And down the side his face lived a scar. His features screamed rough and his composure posed as tough. No wonder he wasn’t selling any papers. He was completely intimidating! Yet, I, couldn’t be more intrigued. His strangeness, his edge, wound up my legs like a tin soldier marching to the front lines of the playroom. I was walking so trance-like that I nearly bumped into him.
    “Oh, I am so sorry,” I employed my famous flirty giggle. The grimace on his face didn’t budge. But I noticed that he seemed to be around my age of sixteen. All right, this was legal, I thought with a smile.
    “Umm… Could I buy one of these?” I asked gazing into his eyes, hoping to get his attention. He stiffened.
    “Yes, of course, maim.” His voice seemed broken. He handed me a newspaper from his basket.
    “So, how much do I owe you for this?” I was still flirting, fishing for the invitation of a date.
    “It’s free.” His eyes blazed into mine as they grew darker, “You don’t owe me anything.”
    “Thank you so much.” I said with a wink.
    As I was walking back to my car, I glanced down at the paper, planning to read the funnies and then throw it away when I got home, but something threw me off, instead. I stopped in my tracks. At the top left corner of the front page the date was wrong. “Friday, April 13, 2012”. Today was the sixth. It had to be a misprint or typo. It couldn’t be the actual newspaper from next Friday, could it?
    I turned back around, “Mr. Newspaper boy?” I called, but he couldn’t be found. He was gone. In the place where his newsstand had erected a moment ago was now a hot dog vender. I only had my back turned for two minutes. How could he just disappear? Okay, this was getting a little freaky.
    I rushed back to my car, locked the doors, and melted in the safety of the upholstery. I threw the newspaper on the seat next to me. I began thinking out loud, I just needed to sort it all out, “Okay, Lori, think rationally. Don’t panic. There is no need for paranoia. The boy probably just found you slightly creepy and just wanted to get away. That’s why he gave you the paper free. And as for that paper. It’s not from the future. Don’t start thinking crazy like that. You will give the doctor another reason to put you back on your medicine. You just need to calm down and get some air.” I turned on the air conditioning, but, without warning, it shot out in full blast and blew the newspaper open to a destined page.
    I leaned over to read the heading, THE PURPLE FUR BEAST STRIKES AGAIN. What a strange title, I thought. I began reading the article. It was a news story about a mysterious serial killer who animalistically sliced its victim’s face, leaving behind a single purple hair in the cut. Each victim was found dead within a furry cocoon-like shell of the color. I almost laughed at the oddness of it, but as my eyes scanned the rest of the article I was stunned speechless. The first victim was Rodney Davis and he dies today. The second victim of the second strike from the monster, dies in four.
    My eyes blurred. My body shook. My heart raced. I couldn’t breathe. There was not enough air. I read the name: Lorianna Matthews. The name belonged to me. I am going to die.
    I raced out of the parking lot, speeding down the road, unsure of where to go, clueless of what to do. I only knew one thing. I had four days to save myself from the unknown.

  36. Birdee0809

    The Damned

    “Those people are damned Wendy. They aren’t worth your time,” Joel grumbled and shook his head dismissively.

    Wendy stood in the kitchen ready to leave for the church shelter. She thought of the bitter cold weather today, remembering more people would come in to eat. The loaf of bread sat on the counter next to the morning newspaper. After a quick glance to make sure her husband wasn’t looking, she took both and placed them in her tote bag.

    Walking through the living room she said, “they’re nice people, families too, and not anywhere near damned. Please try to remember Joel, not everyone is as blessed as we are.” She closed the front door, cutting him off in the middle of another grumble.

    Joel was disappointed in his weak wife. He couldn’t fathom how she thought it was a kindness to listen to sinners cry over their problems when they wouldn’t think to enter a church if it weren’t for the free meal. They had no dignity, how could they? They openly begged on the street and when somebody gave them a few coins, they had the nerve to say ‘God bless you’. He couldn’t stand the sight of them and his wife constantly brought shame down upon him by performing menial tasks for those he thought unworthy.

    Joel was defiantly proud of his well-ordered and pious life and always knew the path he chose was the correct one and refused to allow any influence to the contrary. It’s the narrow path that leads a man to glory, he thought often. He would be rewarded for his exemplary religious life and God willing, he was ready for it.

    He went into the kitchen to get his newspaper. When he didn’t find it, he put his coat on and prayed the news stand was still open. He drove one block and double parked in front.

    “Paper,” Joel barked at the little boy standing in the small wood structure. The boy was rubbing his arms for warmth but his thin, tattered coat was no match for the cold. His cheeks were flushed with fever and he looked up at Joel with eyes that were small and glassy.

    “Paper,” he said louder. The boy sniffed and wiped his snotty nose on his sleeve then handed Joel a paper.

    “No charge, I was told you’ve earned it,” the boy said dreamily.

    “Got that right,” Joel said, grabbing the paper and walking to his car without giving the child another thought.

    He sat in the driver’s seat as cars on the street honked and squeezed around him. It didn’t take too long for him to realize it wasn’t his normal paper and it was dated next week.

    “That GD kid gave me a trick paper,” he grumbled. He threw it on the passenger seat where it fell open. An unnatural heat filled the car a split second before Joel saw the headline.

    New Arrival – Welcome to Hell, Joel Seymour.

        1. Birdee0809

          Hi Rob.

          He’s got a week to keep himself out of Hell! My thoughts when writing it was that it wasn’t necessarily the devil that sent the newspaper but somebody or something that knows this is perhaps the only way to get him to open his eyes and change.

          Thanks for the comments, I appreciate it!

  37. jren

    It was a miserable start to a bright sunny day as Mary was on her way out to lunch. This day just couldn’t get any worse.
    “Hey boy, here, I’ll take one of those papers.” Mary said to a nearby news boy. She tucked it under her arm and ambled on down the street looking for a good place to eat her lunch.
    She spied a bench under a tree across the street that looked inviting. “Peanut butter and jelly! I can’t wait until I can find a better job.” Mary said out loud. “I am so tired of the same ole thing.” She ate in silence as she looked at the paper she just purchased.
    Confusion took over as she saw a picture of herself on the front page. The headline read “Lottery Jackpot Winner announced”. She knew she hadn’t played the lottery in weeks.
    Mary stared in shock as she saw the paper was dated for July 26, 2012…that’s tomorrow. How could that be? She went in search for the boy that sold her the paper. He was gone. She inquired of the other locals in the area to see if any of them might know the boy…it was the same answer…there has never been a news boy in this part of town.
    “It must be an omen. I need to get a lottery ticket, and soon,” she thought. “Oh Damn. Payday isn’t until the 3rd. I don’t have a penny left to my name.” Mary scrounged around in her purse…emptying all the contents, looking for spare change. She found a whopping total of sixty five cents.
    She sighed as she wondered how she could get the rest of the money. There was only one thing she could do…get sick and go home to search for more loose change. That’s exactly what she did.
    She found the thirty five cents she was still in need of in the cushion of the sofa. “Hallelujah!” Mary screamed. I’ve got it.” Off to the neighborhood convenience store to purchase her ticket with her last bit of change.
    Mary’s heart was pounding as she waited, knowing the results as she did. She turned on the radio to listen for the numbers she knew would win. Her breathing quickened as they read the first number…beep…beep…beep…Mary woke up and was still in her bed when the realization hit her…It was all a dream.

    1. jincomt

      Thanks McKev. Hey, about the blog– (I saw that on your post), I’ve set up through blogspot– it’s fairly easy and straight-forward, and if you use the .blogspot domain in your address, it’s free!

  38. mizpfiz

    “Wanna paper, lady?” The kid had an annoying voice.

    “No, I subscribe on my iPad.” Sheila flapped her hand at him as she trotted toward her silver Lexus.

    “Not to this paper you don’t.” The kid trotted after her.

    “I already read the paper this morning, kid.” She slammed the car door. Her Starbucks sloshed into the cup holder.

    “Aw, c’mon lady!”
    Shelia looked up to find the kid’s sweaty little face inches from her own, the window smudged between them. His eyes were brown, liquid, and old somehow. Kid probably has shit for parents, she thought. Nice guilt trip to go with my coffee.

    “Fine.” The window whirred its way down as she fished three quarters out of her purse.
    His grubby hand closed over the coins.

    “Thanks lady.”

    “Yeah yeah.” She tossed the wrinkled, soggy newspaper onto the passenger seat, shoved it into reverse and lurched out of the parking space. A flutter of color caught her eye as the paper settled, and the car ground to a stop again.

    Shelia grabbed the paper with both hands, squinting at the picture, the headline.
    The Museum, its stained glass entry doors shattered, blackened rubble, lumps that might be bodies on the ground.

    ‘Homegrown Terror’ Suspected in Museum Fundraiser Bombing. Nothing like this had been in the newspaper she read on her iPad this morning.

    “What the fuck? Is this some kind of a joke?”

    The Museum Fundraiser event hadn’t happened yet. Wouldn’t happen until tonight.
    She looked around, but the kid was gone. What the fuck? The Fundraiser event had been the bane of her existence for months; the endless planning, the late nights, begging and cajoling the prima donnas and celebrities she couldn’t care less about, but whose money she needed desperately. If they didn’t give and give big, she’d lose her job and probably go to jail. She’d managed things successfully for years before she made the mistake that brought the Museum teetering to the edge of insolvency. Sheila definitely did not need any government accountants looking through her books.

    Was this a warning? Had someone figured it out? Who? She studied the paper through narrowed eyes, mind racing through the possibilities. Then she saw it.
    Small print, top right corner. The date was wrong. It was off by a week.

    “This is next week’s paper? What the fuck? No way!” It couldn’t be real. But what if it was? She should do something. Call the police? And tell them what? That some kid had given her a newspaper from the future? She didn’t want the police poking around anyway, not now. But what if something did happen? Someone would investigate, and she could be found out.. unless there was nothing left to investigate. But there are bodies in that picture, said a tiny voice in her mind. Her conscience? She allowed herself a sniff of a laugh.

    She sat, idling half in and half out of a parking space in the Starbucks parking lot, considering.

  39. jincomt

    I turned up the collar of my overcoat against the cold wind that seemed to tunnel down the street. Leaves caught up with scrap papers swirled around my ankles. Truth is, though, I hardly noticed it. I was just busy trying to avoid running into someone and get home. My girl, Thelma, would be coming over for dinner, and I wanted to have a can of soup heated before she got there.

    Thelma’s a good kid and adores me as if I’m the station owner, not some low-life radio ad salesman. I live in a run-down apartment managed by Mrs. Bernstein. She’s a good woman—always kind if I’m a little late on the rent. “You’re good for it, Wally,” she says and pats my arm gently, just like my mom used to.

    But I’m going places. They’ll see. Skipper Townsend and I have been friends since we were kids. Now, he’s a big Wall Street guy. He’s been helping me make a few small investments. I’ll be able to buy Thelma that big diamond ring yet.

    One more block against this wind, then I’d be home. Some guy with a stack of papers wearing a thread-bare sweater, and torn gloves was rubbing his hands together, trying to warm them. Part of me wanted to keep walking, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it.

    “Paper, Sir? Just a nickel.” He held out a paper. I dug in my pocket and fished out a quarter I could have used to buy Thelma flowers, but this guy looked hard up.

    “Sure. Keep the change.”

    He dipped his head and smiled. “Thank you, Sir.” I swear I saw him wink at me, but maybe it was just something in his eyes. I tucked the paper under my arm and wondered if Amos and Andy would be on tonigh.

    He’ll read the paper eventually—after he settles in for the night. He doesn’t realize how precious that quarter will be a week from now. But if I know Wally, it wouldn’t matter; he’d give it to me anyway. That’s just the kind of guy he is.

    Wally works hard and wants the good things in life. He doesn’t know how rich he already is. But he will. Tonight, he’ll open up that paper and see it’s dated a week from now, November 1, 1929. He’ll learn about the stock market crash and that his good friend Skipper took a header off the Savoy-Plaza Hotel because he lost everything and banked nothing in his life.

    Not Wally. He’s invested a lot in his life—that sweet kid Thelma from the diner, his landlady he takes time to talk to, folks like me, always throwing a little extra our way. He’ll try to warn Skipper. But mostly, he’ll realize how precious life is and quit waiting for “someday” to appreciate it.

    Well, got to be on my way. There are other people who are waiting for me and don’t even know it. A Messenger’s work, you know.

    1. Kym

      i really enjoyed this! I like your writing style. i also like the interesting spin–to show the story from two different points of view. Definitely makes me want to read on and know more about your character. Great message too.

      1. Amy

        Great job Jincomt! The second point of view reminded me of It’s a Wonderful Life and the angel Clarence. I really got a feel for the time period, and you developed Wally really well. I enjoyed the story.

    2. Chancelet

      Interesting story about a simple character, which could be the best kind. Reads well, kinda Twilight Zonish. Not sure if the desparateness of Wally needing to act comes through since we don’t know when Skipper killed himself. Also, not sure who the speaker in the end is, but the message comes through.

      1. jincomt

        Thanks Kym and Chancelet. The speaker at the end was the guy who sold him the newspaper — thus the reference to the quarter. But, apparently I didn’t get that out clearly enough– thanks for voicing your confusion. Wally’s struggle is more intrinsic– a desperation to grasp what life is, not wait until someday. Sometimes what goes on in my head and what ultimately taps out on my computer isn’t as clear as I’d like.

    3. JR MacBeth

      Nicely done jincompt. Your voice is strong, and your use of language sounds true to the time period. The old-fashioned names you chose for your characters I think helped too, very good.

    4. Mr. Es

      Another enjoyable read. Interesting approach with the two points of view. I think you revealed the second one perfectly. I agree with Amy, and I’m not completely sure why, but It’s A Wonderful Life was the first association I made. That same warmhearted feeling is my best guess. I really like your voice, please continue sharing.

  40. marczucker

    Ten cents. That’s all I had in my pocket.

    It is difficult surviving the train ride without my paper. By now it’s become my ritual, I pickup a paper, a coffee – not too sweet and nothing artificial – and try to forget that another grueling day ahead of me. Deadlines, meetings, and people. I have definitely learned to dislike people, especially at work.

    The thought of having to subdue the train without my paper was disheartening. But I went ahead and found my spot on the platform – the one that will let me off closest to the stairs… like I do everyday… like will continue doing until my kids are married and I’m all but in the grave.
    Out of the corner of my eye I see this kid – not much older than my youngest. I’d say about 7, maybe 8 years old. She’s just sitting there with a stack of papers, but no customers. Everyone has either bought them or just don’t see her.

    I know I don’t have enough money, but I go over anyway, out of curiosity. It’s not a paper I am familiar with, but I offer her ten cents, which she seems thrilled about. I feel rather bad that I can’t give her more. Hey, if I like the paper, maybe she’ll be there tomorrow!

    I hardly have time to open it before the train comes flying past, flipping the pages faster than I can grab them. And with hardly a glance I push into the train and grab a seat (my coffee would be mud if I can’t sit with it).

    The news in it is unfamiliar. Stories I have not heard of yet, events that seem out of place. I look at the cover of the paper; it’s definitely of my hometown, nothing wrong there. But then something strikes me as strange; the dates in the article are next week’s. I do not know if I am up for this. I can try to become rich with this. I can help people – maybe, if I can get them to listen.

    My mind turns to the upcoming lottery. I could win. Do I want to win, heck yes! But what of all those people that think they have a chance, that it is random – am I cheating the system. Who cares – it’s free money! But what about…

    Crap! It’s too early in the morning for moral dilemmas.

    Just then I feel the wind of the train almost blow my hat off. Was I sleeping standing up again? The acid in my stomach starts building up as I reach for an antacid.

  41. bmadsen

    Well, here’s mine!!

    Hotshot engineer Chad Bergels quickly made way for his shiny BMW M3 with a satisfied grin on his face; the two million dollar safety valve he had designed for an oil company would mean a great commission for him. It was time to celebrate and they waited for him. Not even the gloomy weather and gray skies would demoralize as he stepped into the parking lot.

    “Hey, sir!” A startled Chad stopped on his tracks and turned towards the young, worn-out voice. There he was, barely standing up and looking straight into Chad’s confused eyes. His dirty right hand rested against one of the massive pillars holding the parking lot together while the left held only one newspaper; he breathed heavily.

    “Hey, kid,” Chad mumbled and looked around suspiciously. “Are you talking to me?”

    “Yes,” the boy breathed heavily. He rested his right hand against the column, as if it would hold him together as it did with the entire parking lot. His left hand held one newspaper, “I am talking to you.”

    “What do you want?” Chad looked at his Skagen stainless steel and titanium watch and nervously shook the stress off.

    “Can you?” He extended the dirty newspaper, not before wiping the sweat and grit off his forehead slowly, “can you buy this?”

    “What? But,” he mumbled and stuttered. He searched for his wallet and pulled out a one-dollar bill, “Are you ok? Do you need any help? I can call an ambulance and you don’t have to move. They’ll come here.”

    “No,” Chad insisted by pulling out his Blackberry, “No! I’m fine. Just buy the newspaper, sir.” The boy took hold of the dollar bill and slowly walked away.

    What a strange kid. He climbed on board the M3 and quickly glanced at the headlines—only one caught his attention: it couldn’t be. In a swift, decisive action, he got down and rushed to the spot where he had found the mysterious boy. He looked at the paper once again then looked at his watch.

    “Kid!” He screamed but only the echo replied, “Where are you? Dammit, kid! Where are you?” He ran to the farthest corner and found nothing. He ran to the opposite side and found nothing—all he had was perspiration staining his Indian cotton shirt. But he found nothing.

    A successful businessman made his way towards his shiny car and checked his expensive watch when he heard a voice call for him.

    “Hey, sir!” the startled business turned around and saw a lonely, dirty and saddened newspaper vendor. The latter breathed heavily and seemed weakened, “Can you buy this?”

    “Sure,” he hesitated. He approached the vendor and bought one issue then analyzed the paltry stand—it could fall down if one looked for too long. There was only a BMW M3 key, a Skagen watch and an old, wrinkled newspaper that read: Safety valve falters, causes catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

      1. bmadsen

        Hummm, not sure if the second read was something I was looking for :P . Great to know that you needed a second read, perhaps it was the fact that I wrote it at work, at lunch break, and didn’t re-read or proofread it.


  42. fbxwriter


    Mitch flipped a coin to the sad kid, who handed him a newspaper. Not many people bought newspapers from street sellers anymore, but Mitch always looked for cheap good deeds for deposits into the karma bank.

    After crossing the street to avoid a ladder, Mitch opened the paper and saw the headline: PINEWOOD NUCLEAR REACTOR FAILS. A picture showed emergency vehicles in front of the reactor spewing out toxic steam. Instinctively, Mitch looked toward his neighborhood but saw no steam, heard no alarms.

    He looked back to the paper and saw it was dated a week later. Another article showed Teegarden had come from behind to win the presidential election. Mitch smiled. Good news.

    Mitch shook his head. This must be a joke. He went back to the newspaper kid, but all the other papers were current. Only Mitch’s was dated in the future. It couldn’t be real, could it?

    Mitch read his horoscope: “Decisions made in the past bear bountiful fruit. Listen to the advice of a loved one.”

    The séance! Judy said she would look out for him, as she had when she was alive. This was a message from her. Another article caught his eye. Apple had developed a smart phone contained in a pair of glasses. Industry experts were blown away. Apple’s stock was going through the roof. Or, will be in a week.

    Mitch stopped walking and smiled. The hell with his job. He hated it anyway. He hated this whole town. He turned back toward home, trying to figure out the fastest way to sell his house and buy some stock. The newspaper kid looked shocked when Mitch tossed him a 20-dollar bill.

    Mitch was scanning the phone book real estate section, when the doorbell rang. He greeted the man and woman, who said they were from a mortgage company just finding out if people were happy with their home loans.

    Mitch smiled inside. He had heard about such operators. Give you a good loan but with a high interest rate and a big balloon payment, then foreclose when you couldn’t keep up. He told them he wasn’t interested because he wanted to sell—quickly. At first they weren’t interested, but Mitch convinced them. He drove a hard bargain. They had to buy the house in four days, in return Mitch sold it for a song. He had to pay a few thousand upfront for an engineer’s report and such, but it didn’t matter. In a week he’d be smiling while the scammers would be sobbing. He wrote them a check and tried to suppress a grin.

    While Mitch and the man signed the paperwork, the woman roamed the house. Once alone, she pulled a tracking device from her purse. It guided her to the newspaper from the future. She tucked the paper into her purse and shook her head slightly. Dennis had been right. Some people would believe anything. Tomorrow they would cash the checks and head for the next town.

    1. wilson hara

      Very Good story, interesting, well written and thought through, the seance etc… I lliked how he didn’t care about anyone else and got his comeuppance in the end.

    2. fbxwriter

      Thanks all. I’m glad Mitch’s selfishness came through. I didn’t want him to be a very sympathetic character.

      I tried something different because I was really limited for time to write the story. This time I broke the story into three parts (beginning, middle, and end) and set word limits for each part so that the three parts were no more than 500 words. I’ve read about doing this and similar things to keep writing tight. My first draft still came in at about 550 words, but that’s a lot better than the 800 or 1,000 words I normally write. And by having the story broken into sections, it was easier for me to figure out what to cut.

      Anyway, I thought it worked well and wanted to let others know.

      1. radioPanic

        Great take and nice twist! Greed and gullibility paid in kind.

        I’ve never heard of breaking a story into parts and giving each part its own word limit. Seemed to work well here. Might have to try that.

    3. zo-zo

      I love the tone of this… works very well, especially when you flipped point of view to the ‘real estate’ agents. Really great twist, well done!

  43. JWLaviguer

    “Will you buy a paper, sir?” The boy startled me from my thoughts.
    “Sure,” I said, not really paying attention to him as I tossed him a quarter. “Keep the change.”
    He smiled and said “Thank you sir!” and bit down on the two-bit piece. I turned back to say “you’re welcome,” but before I got the words out of my mouth, he was no longer there. I pulled my overcoat tighter as I hurried to the car, and then tossed the newspaper on the passenger seat as I climbed in. I turned the key, and the engine rumbled to life. I let it warm up for a few minutes, and grabbed the newspaper. I skimmed the first couple of pages, not really caring that none of the stories sounded a bit familiar. I have been preoccupied lately, I rationalized, until a story on the bottom of page 3 made my heart skip a beat.
    “Washington D.C. man charged with fatal hit and run” was the header. I stared at the photo in the paper in disbelief as my own eyes stared back at me. “This must be some sort of sick joke,” I muttered. I closed the paper and looked at the front. It was the Washington Post, so that was okay, but the date was totally wrong; it had next week’s date on it.
    “What the hell,” I said. “Somebody sure went to a lot of trouble for nothing. I’m not falling for it.” I leafed through the rest of the paper, half-expecting the remaining pages to be blank, but they weren’t. I was actually kind of amused by the apparent time and effort it took to produce such a realistic product. I drove home and decided to enjoy a cold beer while reading through this so-called newspaper. I pulled out of the parking lot and turned the corner, but a police car was there blocking the road and an officer was redirecting traffic. Up ahead, an office building was on fire, and it was really bad. There were four fire trucks in front battling the blaze.
    “I hope nobody’s in there,” I thought, and continued home. I pulled into my driveway and grabbed the paper. Once inside, I hung up my overcoat by the door, tossed the paper onto the kitchen table, and pulled a beer out of the fridge. On the top of page 4 was a photograph that looked familiar. The headline stated “Cause of downtown fire still under investigation.” The photo was the exact scene I had just passed on my way home!
    That made me pay close attention to every single story in the paper. With every passing day, every single story in that paper relayed events exactly as they played out. I convinced myself that if I never left the house on the day the paper said I killed someone, that it would never come to pass.
    That’s the last thing I remember until I woke up in a hospital bed.

  44. wilson hara

    The Chipping Naigdare Bulletin is our village newsletter. Currently, Chipping Nayhair (as we affectionately call it) has a population of 52. The editor, Alfred Sneed, writer, editor, publisher, printer, collector of rare flowers and FOOL believes he is a V.I.P. However, if you’d like an idea of what we think of him, rearrange these words : Idiot Prick and Village. The Bulletin comes out every evening at 6 and we have the privilege of paying 10 pence to read the man’s drivel and laugh. He has made many mistakes over the years, notably

    Local Man, 82, Dies.
    Mr. Laurence Bell tragically died this morning when he fell off his ladder. He had been repairing his satellite dish. Our sincere condolences…

    And this was the response the next day.

    To the Editor,
    The local man, 82, that you mentioned is not dead.
    L. Bell

    Dear Sir,
    Please accept my congratulations. I heard you were dead. Perhaps you only looked dead.
    The Editor

    To the Editor,
    It is illegal to install satellite dishes on grade listed houses. I will be informing The Society for the Protection of our Heritage immediately.
    Patrick Brown

    Patrick Brown is our most zealous community member. He is also a member of the Women’s Institute. I’m just saying. However, I digress. Yesterday, Sneed surpassed himself.

    January 18, 2012
    Rare Snowdrops Stolen from Garden, in Broad Daylight.

    I, Margaret Canon, am the owner of those snowdrops and they are not missing. And the date today is January 11.

    January 12, 2012
    Re : Stolen Snowdrops
    That is illegal.
    Patrick Brown

    To the Editor
    There is a misprint on page 1 of the Bulletin. The date.
    N. Jeals

    To the Editor
    You are a fool. I know very well you’ve been hankering after my snowdrops but to actually print your intentions in headline form, well! I am guessing that that was meant to be next weeks headline and you’ve made a mess again. I am keeping a close on you and my snowdrops.
    Margaret Canon

    You have all but called me a thief. I am deeply offended. That is slander.
    The Editor

    January 13, 2011
    Slander is illegal.
    Patrick Brown

    I did not call you a thief; I merely suggested that you are potentially an incompetent one. An imbecile, too.

    On this occasion, I will not involve you in a long and costly lawsuit. However, I am warning you : desist.
    The Editor

    January 14, 2011
    Sir, you are a knob-head.

    1. penney

      Beautiful! I love this approach of the letters to the paper. I laughed throughout and did in no way lose interest once starting to read. I love the finality of the last response….”Anon.” Kudos.

    2. MCKEVIN

      Good one! I like that you took a new approach to the prompt and you have no idea of the creativity ideas you are giving us. Nice job. McKevin

    3. Mr. Es

      Very creative, loved it. I shared this with little piece with a few friends. I laughed out loud and read more than once. One of my favorite reads for this prompt, thank you, my friend, for sharing.

  45. penney

    “If you found out today what was going to happen sometime in the future, what would you do?” Joel sipped his cup of coffee eyeing Brin’s response.

    “Well, that’s hard to say, do I get to choose the event? You know, like good or bad?” Brin didn’t like these “what if” scenarios.

    “No, worse, you get the whole Daily Times, ads and all. You have the world at your fingertips. What do you do with it?” He paused for an answer.

    The first thing Brin did was attack with logic. There was no way that she could change everything she found in the paper that bothered her. She reasoned with a countering “what if” of, who’s to say she received this gift or curse in order to change anything.

    She took a breath and asked Joel. “What if it is fate, or God’s way of proving just how out of control we really are?” She continued. “Besides who would believe me? I’m cursed with the knowledge that 9/11 is about to unfold. I could change that whole thing with the right phone call. Who would believe me and better yet, it would take a week for the paperwork to catch up with the red tape. The damned government would let it happen anyway, just to see if I am right!” Brin gulped her Mocha and slammed down the cup, clanking the table top.

    “You’re such a pessimist Brin. You never trust anyone.” Joel shook his head in disbelief. “I’m just wondering what you would do?”

    “Nothing, okay. Absolutely nothing,” she said more calmly.

    “Even when it comes to money, like the lotto?” He goaded her more.

    “No, because think about it.” She paused for the waitress to refill their coffee. “The paper, from the future, is a week out right?” He shook his head. “Well, the numbers are for the next weekend, and yes I could get a ticket for all the numbers but, that doesn’t mean someone else isn’t a winner too. What is it, 50 million? So, that means it splits with all the winners. The point of such “what ifs” is that I get all 50 million. See?” She lifted her hands in the air as if the winner.

    Joel leaned in and ceded the debate. There was no point, she wasn’t going to play. Once they finished their coffees, money was placed on the table and they parted ways. Joel yelled from the corner, “Next week you pick the topic.” He waved and turned away.

    Brin walked toward her car stopping at the newspaper stand to grab today’s paper. She handed the boy a dollar for his trouble. The boy reached out to give her change.

    “Keep it kid,” she said.

    “Thanks lady.”

    When Brin got to her car, she unlocked the door, and tossed the paper across the seat. As she rolled away from the curb, she looked down at the paper. Curious, she flipped it over to the front page, the date read July 31, 2012. She slammed on the brakes in disbelief. She looked at it again, today was definitely July 24, 2012. What if?

    1. jincomt

      The “what if” that came true! I loved the dialogue between Brin and Joel It really held my attention and created, in a very short time, their relationship and a glimpse into their personalities. Good writing. And now the set-up for the “next chapter”. Good read.

      1. Amy

        I, too, enjoyed the dialogue between your characters, Penney. It felt very real (although I did want to shake Brin for her pessimism about winning the lottery…I’d share 50 million with a few folks! You have the start of a great story here. Maybe it will continue with another prompt!

        1. wilson hara

          I’m glad you liked the snowdrops story.
          Your story, is very neat, as in tidy and tight. And I agree that the conversation was excellent etc however, my favourite part is the end. These ‘what if’ conversations can be endless…and by ending with “What if” we’re back, not simple. Clever. Right, I have a feeling I’m not making as much sense as I wish and as a writer, not being able to express yourself is… well. I liked your story very much.


    I kept thinking “What have I gotten myself into?” I walked the block and paid the androgynous looking kid for the Reddick Redeye. Back in the cab, I looked at the picture in the paper and then to the Girl Scout seated in back. It was her! Same brown hair, blue eyes and aviator glasses. I moved to the drive thru line. She placed her order.
    “That will be $7.31.”
    The girl passed her a twenty.
    “Oh, ya daddy making you pay young lady?” The cashier said laughing.
    A patrol car weaved through the lot causing a traffic jam.
    “He’s not my daddy!”
    “Sweetheart, you sound like you don’t know him?”
    “I don’t!”
    “Honey, are you okay?” Handing back change.
    “Not your concern!”
    I pulled to the next window. Two goons, one Black one White, jumped out of a Lexus car and stared at the cab. I ducked down. The police, now on foot, were headed toward us speaking into their walkie- talkies.
    Repeat: Yellow cab with murder suspects spotted at McDonald’s on Main and fourth!
    “That’s him!” The shorter of the two Lexus men said.
    “Carlos would never work driving a cab! Are you crazy?”
    “Ten four, suspects in sight.” The police drew their guns.
    “I’m telling you that’s Carlos.”
    “Hey partner, call in from here, drive thru cashier states child in danger, possible kidnapping.
    Victim, underage wearing Girl Scout uniform.
    “You’re right! Get him!” The tall man said.
    They retrieved bats from the car and rushed the cab.
    Repeat: Armed kidnapper and victim in Yellow cab.
    “Here’s your order. Please come again.
    The bags came through the window and I passed them over. The girl took one.
    “For you.” She said smiling.
    “Look kid I-“
    “GO! NOW!”
    I turned around to see the police and the two goons almost at the cab. I dropped the bag,
    “Stop! Police!”
    “I floored the pedal and disappeared in traffic. A police car headed in the opposite direction blasted a siren. I parked at a truck stop between two Wal-Mart semis.
    “Look kid, this article says you’ve killed three people!”
    “Wait a minute, this date is 7/31/2012. How?”
    “What happened back there?”
    “You hurt my feelings!”
    “I did a job for Moe” Lowering her head
    “Who is Moe?”
    “Not you concern!”
    “Don’t start that.”
    “Who were those men?” She asked.
    “Not your concern.”
    “Money problems?”
    “Take me back to the library.
    “I can’t, police, remember!”
    “But, the awards banquet.”
    “What banquet?”
    “The Most Cookies Sold banquet.”
    “All this for cookies!”
    Tap! Tap!, Tap!
    I woke up and placed the newspaper beside me.”
    “No sleeping in public!” The officer yelled.
    I started the car, turned on the radio and dialed my cell.
    “Yeah, we still on? Five Card Stud right?
    I drove passed a Girl Scout with a rabbit leaving a Mexican restaurant with her father, the scientist.
    “Man, please! I paid you your money.”
    Damn! I have got to stop eating spicy food.

    1. Amy

      So she did order a burger MCKEVIN! I like how you continued on with the prompt! I did get a bit confused between the two men after Carlos and the police after the girl. I’m glad it was all a dream, but I feel a bit let down. I want to know more!

      1. MCKEVIN

        Hi Amy, This is not the continuation of the original.
        This is my submission for this week’s prompt.

        Police Radio Dispatcher italics in lines 17, 25 and 29 did not transfer to website.

        19, 21, 23, 24 and 26 are the police responding to radio dispatch or talking to each other.

        To you and everyone else who wanted the “Not Your Concern” story continued,
        It is almost finished. Almost. It’s challenging mentally. But I love it! It’s taking on a life of it’s own. I think you will be surprised. I am.
        Does anyone have any blog startup information.

        And no Amy, she didn’t order a burger, she ordered the “Killer’s Special” chicken nuggets. Lol. I promise the expanded version will not let you down even if it kills me. Lol. MCKEVIN

        1. Amy

          I am definitely looking forward to more MCKEVIN! Blogspot.com and wordpress are both ideal for blogs, and free! I’ve got one on blogspot and it was easy…a wordsmithswanderings.blogspot.com. It’s hard to find the time to post though. I really need to add to it!

  47. mallorie_m

    As I walked down the street to my car, my happiness was quickly turning into guilt. I had spent the night with a beautiful woman and we had made love more than once. It had been an amazing night. Unfortunately, I had to go home to my wife with these thoughts on my mind. I loved my wife, without a doubt. Only, lately, things had been… different. I had walked out of our house this morning with our words of hate still ringing in my ears.

    Now, at 4 o’clock in the morning, I was walking along the sidewalk of one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Chicago, trying to simultaneously remember where I parked my car and suppress my shame and guilt at the events of this night. What had I done?

    “Paper?” I heard someone ask from behind me. I jumped and spun around. It was a young boy. His wide, blue eyes looked up at me pitifully. In his dirty hands, he held out a newspaper. I didn’t recognize the name.

    “I thought I was alone out here,” I said, more to myself than the boy. The boy pushed the newspaper closer to me. “No, thank you. I don’t need one.” I backed away from him and walked away. This boy must be homeless, crazy, or both. Why else would he be trying to sell newspapers out here at this time, when the streets were deserted.

    “Please, sir,” the boy said, urgently, as he ran to stand in front of me. “This paper is for you.”
    Anxious to get away from his startling stare, I agreed and pulled out a five dollar bill from my pocket. Along with it, a card that had written on it the number of the woman I had only just met today fell from my pocket and landed on the concrete, a lipstick kiss boldly standing out on the paper. The boy looked down at it and then back up at me. I must have imagined it but I thought I had seen some type of cruel pleasure in his eyes. Nervously, I quickly reached down to pick it up and threw it into a trash can.

    “Here,” I said, handing him the money, “keep the change.” The boy didn’t say a word as he snatched away the bill and shoved the newspaper into my hand.

    I instinctively looked down at the paper and one of the articles caught my eye. It was about a woman who had shot her husband three times because of his infidelity. I shook my head, knowing that my guilt was the reason that this article stood out to me. Then I noticed the picture. It was of me. My hands shook as I looked for the publication date of this paper. It was dated for a week from now. Fear clutched at me as I looked up and saw that the boy was gone. Without once questioning the validity of this newspaper, I ran to my car, intending to get as far away from Chicago as I could. Sometimes you can’t run from fate.

    1. Amy

      I liked your story mallorie. Although your character is a cheat and a liar, I felt some sympathy for him. I wish he hadn’t run…I would have liked to have seen him set things right with his wife. Maybe another prompt….

  48. Kym

    Jonathan Daniels was feeling extremely lucky.

    The corners of his mouth turned up slightly, revealing his signature playboy grin as he strutted to his brand new Mercedes Benz. Life was good. Better yet, life was great. He had just made three million for making a cameo in an upcoming film starring one of the hottest actresses in Hollywood. An actress he intended to wine and dine tomorrow night. Not bad for a nobody who flipped burgers at a local hamburger joint in LA only two years ago, until he became an overnight success. Now people couldn’t keep his name out of their mouths. Let them talk he thought, his smile widening. More buzz only brought more fame. More riches. And more women.

    Don’t forget you’re featured in today’s paper. Nice photo. You look good as always.

    That text came from Amanda, his agent. Magazines, radio and television stations and newspapers were constantly scheduling him for interviews. Amanda always sent him reminders. Even without seeing today’s paper, Jonathan knew Amanda had stated the obvious. His chiseled, sexy features always made him photogenic. Of course he looked good.

    When he reached his car, he noticed a tall, scraggly looking boy with long hair standing across the street selling newspapers. Watching people walk right by the boy, ignoring him as if he was a nobody, made Jonathan think about how hard he had to work before fame. But at least he had his good looks, nice body and charming personality. This kid didn’t even have that.

    His sentimental side got the best of him, and he jogged across the street to support him.

    “Would you like to buy a paper?” the kid asked in a monotone voice.

    It irritated Jonathan that the boy didn’t acknowledge his celebrity status. No autograph or photo request. Not even a smile. The kid had to know Jonathan was the headliner. Just for the boy’s lack of enthusiasm, Jonathan decided against letting him keep the change from the twenty dollar bill.

    He headed back to his car upset that his good mood had vanished because of the idiot kid. That’s when he noticed the front page’s headliner that almost brought him to his knees:
    Hollywood’s Hottest Rising Star Dead at the Age of 26.

    “Is this some idea of a sick joke?” he yelled out, trying to steady his breathing. The date read exactly one week from today. Jonathan whirled around ready to beat the kid to a bloody pulp but he was gone. Jonathan looked down both sides of the street. It seemed like the boy had vanished.

    After reading through the article seven times, Jonathan realized he held the future in his hands. As crazy as it sounded, he knew it was the truth.

    The article gave him very little to work with, but three things remained clear.

    He only had a week to beat death.

    He could trust no one.

    And he needed to steer clear of his father.

    1. DRoberts

      Great story. What a way to end it. It reads like a first chapter to a longer story or novel. I’d like to know how this all turns out for Jonathan. Nice writing.

    2. jincomt

      The 500 word limit is tough to work with. I would have liked to see a little less of the descriptions and set-up that took up the first 2/3 of the story (although it was great– if we had a higher word count, I would keep it all!) and a little more words used for the latter half, the headline, and what it meant. Great set-up!

        1. Kym

          Thank you all for the feedback!! I appreciate all of your comments :).Jincomt you are right–500 words is not a lot to work with! It’s very challenging and doesn’t leave much time for a longer set up.

  49. jdarlington

    There was no way that I was reading this right. How could the paper have been printed with next Friday’s date? How did an editor miss a thing like that? Someone’s job was sure gonna be on the line for this one.

    I glanced at my watch, questioning how it was only 7:43 am. It felt like I’d been up for hours, but I’m glad I’d gotten out so early today. I mean, this thing would probably be worth money one day, right? And the more people who realized what they had in their greasy palms, the faster these babies would fly off the shelves.

    I took a minute to picture myself 10 or 15 years into the future, in my golden years, bringing this paper to that pawn shop in Vegas. I’d plop this masterpiece down on the desk and they’d call in one of their experts to appraise it. He’d come in and go wild with the rarity of my find. I’d definitely make it onto their show with this one, I laughed to myself, as if I needed more exposure after the past two weeks.

    I yanked myself out of my daydream, knowing that I’d better be on my A-Game if I had any chance of winning this case today. I stood back to get a better look at myself in the passenger side window of my new Mercedes. I jiggled my tie so that it was perfectly centered and ran my hand through my hair, making sure every last strand was in place. This judge was a real ball buster for details and I didn’t need him distracting me from my closing argument. I’d worked my ass off on this one. I wasn’t about to lose my first case with this firm when it had taken no less than blackmail and bribery to get me here.

    I glanced down at my watch again, wondering why of all days she had to be running late today. Well, no sense in wasting time while she wasted mine. I flicked the newspaper open, satisfied at the quick cracking sound it made, and quickly scanned the headlines. And then I nearly choked on my double espresso.

    I gave my head a quick shake and squeezed my eyes shut, thinking I really needed to take a vacation after this case was finished. When I opened my eyes again, unsettled wasn’t even close to what I felt as I realized what I had in my hands. How the hell, I exhaled in short, panicked breaths.

    If this was real, and I wasn’t just completely losing my mind, then not only was I about to lose this case, but I was also about to lose my life. The headline read in mocking bold, black letters, “Authorities Still on the Hunt for Lone Gunman at Henderson Trial.” My mouth went dry as I realized the missing gunman would be my killer before this day was out.

  50. sarahbecker

    The perfect white walls annoyed me the most. Until he walked in. Then he annoyed me the most.

    “Hi. Officer Haut. Public Information, Roswell Army Airfield.” He introduced himself, extending a hand. I shook it. Hard.

    “Hi. Barney Gibson. Roswell Daily Herald.” My lips squeaked up my face against my will. I knew what this was, and Jesus was I gonna fight it till my knees broke.

    Officer Haut sat down across from me. A large perfectly square wood table stood between us. He rested his forearms against it while he looked over some documents.

    He ‘hmm’ed a few times before speaking, “You’re career’s in the dumps.”

    I laughed, “So, that’s how you’re gonna play it?”

    It took a moment, but he smiled, “Yeah. That’s how I’m gonna play it.”

    “Well, it won’t work, buddy, I’ve got the goods, I ain’t gonna change my story, and there ain’t nothing you can do about it.” I leaned back on the legs of my chair. I would have put my hands behind my head, relaxed like, if I didn’t think it would’ve looked overconfident.

    Officer Haut remained perfectly still but one of his plained clothes guys walked behind me.


    “HOLY SHIT!” I screamed, flying back against the table. Haut laughed.

    “We got that off one of them. Pretty neat device, eh? We think it sends electrical impulses through the brain, so it only feels like it hurts. It doesn’t actually harm you.” Haut stood from the table. I couldn’t even move my head to watch where he was going.

    “You came here looking for a story. You’re a reporter. A crap reporter. And this…this story might save your sorry ass. Isn’t that right?”

    I whimpered the affirmative.

    “And now you think you’ve got it. The story of a life time. Your name going down in history. Well, let me inform you of what you saw. You saw a weather balloon. Nothing else.” Haut’s face leaned in inches from my own.

    I closed my eyes and pushed myself into a sitting position, “I saw more than that.”

    The plain clothes man started towards me.

    “Okay. Okay. Let’s talk.” I said, staring at the black cube in his hand. “I knew about this. I got a paper last week from this raggedy little kid, could’ve been alien himself, and it had this headline about Flying Saucers, and my name, my name was the byline. So, maybe, maybe he was an alien, and maybe I gotta fulfill the future or something.”

    Haut must practice being still.

    The plain clothes man moved his arm, but Haut stopped him.

    “Raggedy boy. Alien.” He breathed from his nose, “Alright. You can publish a story. It can be about flying disks. I’ll even make a press release for you.”

    “Thank you.” I sighed.

    “Here’s the thing. You mention aliens, you mention the eleven crash sights, you mention the brain phaser, and you’re a dead man. Got it?” His brow dripped sweat.

    “Yeah. I got it.”

    1. sarahbecker

      There really was an Officer Haut, Public Relations Officer Roswell Army Airfield. As I have depicted him, it’s probably terribly inaccurate, to the point that this is fiction. Complete and utter fiction.

      1. rob akers

        Sarah all of my stories are based on a real events. But I have never seen a flying disk. Now I am watching the sky, my back because of the brain phaser and wondering about your history. Any black suits in your closet?

        I love this, great work. Nothing like aliens to make a great story.

        1. Amy

          Great story Sarah. Your character depictions were spot on, and the dialogue was terrific. I could visualize everything perfectly. Watch out Men In Black!

        2. sarahbecker

          Thank you so much! I’m afraid I’m a bit of an x-files fan and drew quite a bit of inspiration there, and a lovely wikipedia page. Though real events are great aren’t they? Thanks again for reading and commenting!

    2. DMelde

      Good story Sarah. I liked your story as told from the newspaper reporter’s point of view. The only thing missing was the smoking man, but maybe he was in the shadows somewhere…

    3. radioPanic

      I agree, great job with the characters. First paragraph is excellent. “Haut must practice being still.” Loved that line. What really got me is that it definitely left me wanting more, but doesn’t feel unfinished. I also got an X-files vibe, and there are far, far worse things to draw inspiration from! Keep it up!

    4. Mr. Es

      My father is a believer in other intelligent life and we used to watch X-Files together when I was growing up. This brought back some wonderful memories, thank you for sharing.

      This story has an excellent flow, and I cannot express enough how much I loved the first three sentences!

  51. DMelde

    Lofton walked down the well-worn front steps of his Brownstone and turned left alongside the cobblestone street. The paving stones looked much the same as a hundred years ago when the road was built, and it was easy to imagine the clippety-clop sounds of horses’ hooves, as they moved beneath the canopy of the trees in the not-so-distant past. Lost in reflection, Lofton turned the corner at the end of the street and was met by a wintry blast of frigid air. It felt like stepping inside of a walk-in freezer. All around him, the rest of the city was bathed in the warmth of mid-summer, but not on this wintry street, and not for him. He looked ahead and saw the boy waiting patiently, as before.
    “So soon,” Lofton thought, “why? I just helped him, not that long ago.”
    The boy looked at Lofton and waved his rolled-up newspaper, as if beckoning him.
    “Read all about it! Get your newspaper here!” the boy trumpeted.
    Lofton walked to the boy and held out thirty cents. It was always thirty cents, and in exchange, he received one freezing cold newspaper. He looked into the boy’s eyes and tried to decipher their depths. Did he see mockery in those eyes? Was it sorrow? At times, he thought he saw love. Or was it gratitude?
    Taking the newspaper, he walked over to his car and felt warm again. He opened the still-cold newspaper to the classifieds and scanned the Help Wanted section. Before long, he found what he was looking for. In bold type it read “Please Save My Child” and below the header, in smaller print, “Take my life in exchange. -Jenny”
    Lofton bowed his head in supplication and prayed, “Lord. Please, not again. I cannot bear witness to any more sorrow.”
    Silence was the response. Lofton knew the Rule was to do whatever the newspaper commanded. Yes, he had saved people, but he had also seen too much misery and pain. He thought back to when he was still alive, and he reflected on his own cruelty. In life, his greed for money had destroyed so many families. Now he was in purgatory, caught between heaven and hell, fighting for redemption. With a heavy heart he started driving, and he instinctively arrived at the scene of the crime, at the exact time that the sin was occurring. He knew the commandment—save the child and sacrifice the mother.
    “I can’t do it,” he thought, “A child needs their mother. Well, to hell with the Rule. Punishment be damned.”
    Lofton entered the building and attacked their assailant. Struggling for the gun, he turned and yelled, “Jenny, GO!” Once they were gone he released the assailant and took a step back.
    “Mister,” the assailant said, raising his gun, “you shouldn’t have interfered.”
    “You cannot have them,” Lofton said, “Take me instead.”
    The assailant fired and Lofton felt the bullet pierce his chest, and for the second time in his life, Lofton died.

    1. DMelde

      I managed to stay under 500 words but I wanted to at least give a little more for anyone who would like to read it —

      Lofton woke up in a world of white. After a very short time, a bright yellow taxi arrived through the white mist, and pulled up alongside of him. He opened the back door of the cab and peered inside.
      “Lofton, do you, at long last, know who I am?” asked the paperboy.
      With tears of joy streaming down his face Lofton replied “Yes, my Lord.”
      Smiling, the Christ-child said, “Redemption is yours. Enter, and ride home with me.”

      1. sarahbecker

        I like how you put love in the eyes of the paperboy at the very beginning and then, with the epilogue, brought it back with Christ. Very nice. Also enjoyed that this was a moment in time where a change occurred to the ordinary events of the story’s universe (Today’s the day kind of thing).

      2. jincomt

        I really liked this story, DMelde. You set up the premise expertly, and moved the reader toward the climax–wondering if Lofton would obey the headline or choose his own path. I liked the meaning you infused in it too– of hope, redemption, and the choices we make towards those ends. Personally, I liked the ending as it stood without the epilogue. I drew the conclusion of redemption by the way you set up the story. You write well.

        1. Amy

          Great story DMelde. I liked the supernatural feel of it. I’m glad Lofton did what he thought was right and not what he was told to do. Too many people are complacent and let others lead them astray. Excellent writing.

      3. radioPanic

        Nice story, nice writing. You maybe could have fit the epilogue into the 500 words, but you had some very nice atmosphere/description that I’d hate to see cut.

        One thing that really gets me thinking, is how it’s cold whenever he meets the paperboy. Knowing who the paperboy is, I would think that being near him would bring comfort or relief. If you keep the cold, maybe mentioning the foot-dragging, stifling heat of summer. Could just be me, though.

        Really enjoyed this piece.

      1. DMelde

        Hi onaway,
        Those are good questions. To answer your first question, the Christ-child is in the back seat, and alone in the cab. I don’t think anybody is driving it. Besides, it’s not really a cab anyway, it’s just what he thinks he sees as he interprets the “transportation” that has come for him. To answer your second question, Lofton went to heaven. He did a selfless act when he traded his own well-being for that of the mother, maybe the first selfless act he’s ever done. He broke the Rule to help someone else, not himself, and selfless acts have a way of being rewarded.
        Thanks for reading my story and commenting!

    2. aikawah

      Epilogue: Version 2

      He woke up at the morgue, a tall lanky human pushing his body on a trolley. He was weak from the wound and the blood he had lost. He gave in to the bloodlust. When he had fed, he laid the morgue attendant’s body on the trolley and covered it in the sheet. The man would live, if he kept his mouth shut. He shouldn’t have involved himself this time, the vampire council was not going to like it one bit.

      1. aikawah

        I hope you don’t mind DMelde, couldn’t resist the temptation to turn him about like that… plus, it would perfectly explain how he’s been around from the times when the read was new and horses roamed the streets.

    3. Rebecca

      Touching story…its nice to know that such unconditional love can exsist…sometimes even when it is born in the mind it will show in action and grow with time. Good Job! :)

  52. rob akers

    NOTE: Last week I was over 88 words, today I am under 77. I still own myself another 11 words.

    A Major Jimmy Everest Story

    21 December 2012

    Today was the day the Mayans choose to end their calendar and the day that the modern world actually believed the world would end. Jimmy never bought into the myth. His theory was that the calendar maker retired and the last day he completed was today. The lead news story was about how everyone was skipping work, buying things they couldn’t pay for, holding up in their Church or house, and partying like it was 1999.

    Jimmy walked through the Town Center Mall heading to the Olive Garden. It was time for another Pilot Meeting. Today Billy picked the spot, probably because he knew there were no young waitresses for Jimmy to hit on. They had become friends after staying in the same tent during an Afghanistan rotation. Since then, there seemed to be a level of respect and trust between the two. Jimmy even trusted Bill enough to enlist his help moving contraband before an impromptu tent inspection.

    Something had changed in Billy over the last six months. Since Mad Ram gave Billy an assignment before their weekly pilot meeting, Bill was reserved and would not be in the same room with Jimmy alone. Bill even removed himself from a rotation they were scheduled to fly together.

    Walking through the mall, he approached a young man handing out flyers. Jimmy noticed the boy staring directly at him as he approached. It was more than uncomfortable, it was a signal.

    “Paper, Sir?”


    “Thank you for your service, Sir.”

    He hated being thanked for doing what he considered fun and would have paid to do. He opened the flyer. It was dated the 28th. “Computers Installed Accurately.” The C.I.A. was in large bold type. Even Jimmy could get the message.

    He looked down at the next headline. “Optional Special Internment for Air Force Pilots.” The words rattled around in his head for a couple of seconds. He stopped in his tracks and turned to look at the boy but he was gone. O.S.I. was the initials for the Air Force Office of Special Investigation. This group had been watching him for months and the meaning was clear. They were ready to arrest him, next week at the latest. It was time to go.

    Jimmy turned and went back to his car. Changing into civilian clothes in the mall parking lot. He drove directly to the airport, taking his pre-packed bug out bag with him to the counter. He purchased a one way ticket to Toronto, using a false identity and never looked back.

      1. rob akers

        Thanks for the kind comments. I am starting to get a better feel for the Major and this is really helping me get a handle on a different character.

        aikawah, that is a great idea. It is something I have thought about doing. I am sure the Major would not be a good guest. The third installment of my first unpublished novel, will be set in Africa. My team will be caught up in a cival war and have to escape. I really appreciate your contrubitions because it really helps me get a feel of Nairobi, Kenya and the rest of the continent.

        DMelde, I would love to know your theories and Jimmy’s future. Any and all suggestions will be considered.

        1. DMelde

          Jimmy impresses me as the type who knows, and keeps, caches of dirty laundry on other people, people like his father-in-law. Maybe not knowledge of murder, but enough to be able to embarrass him, and others, publicly. He uses this dirt to blackmail his way around after his cover is blown. He also has caches of stolen, or improperly obtained, goods hidden in various places. I can see Jimmy going after his goods by using blackmail as his chief weapon, while making new friends along the way by being so nice to everyone, thereby gaining new dirt to keep on going. And don’t forget he has his wife and kids to barter with too. But it’s an off-hand remark that he makes to someone that does him in.
          At least, that’s what I see happening. What will really happen? I look forward to finding out!

          1. rob akers

            Thank you for your thoughts. I think we are both on the same page. Jimmy would keep a book of knowledge and he would do anything to slime his way out of trouble. He runs from trouble and would never sacrifice himself for the greater good of anyone, except maybe his kids. That might be something to explore.

            His demise would be in his arrogance. Not the off hand remark but his over confidence that will catch up with him. He would stop trying to hide in the shadows and will openly defy society. Jimmy’s fatal flaw is that he loves himself more than anything else. His lust for life has overwhelmed his ability to control his passions.

            I wonder if he will ever get caught. Skirting the edges of society will keep him from the grasp of justice until…who knows?

      1. rob akers

        Thank you for that thought. Jimmy is a fun, exciting person who lightens up any room he enters. My goal is to create a character than is 100% trouble mixed with some very dark, negative traits but at the same time someone who is 100% likeable and symapthic. I really appreciate your remark and honesty.

  53. Chancelet

    It was the usual ho-hum boring day for Harry Montgomery. Work was the same today as it was yesterday, and undoubtedly, like it would be tomorrow. Harry tried not to be depressed. I thank you God everyday that I got a job. That I got a wife and a son, he silently prayed.

    He refused to think how going home was no more thrilling than being at work. His wife would be building her farm on the computer, and his son would be crying in the crib, having to wait on his dad to be changed and fed. Steffie felt she did her part at breakfast and lunch. To boost his spirits, he decided to stop off at 7-11 to get a slushy. He hadn’t had a slushy in years.

    Harry could not wait for two things to happen that would change his life 180 degrees for the better. First, he dreamt of his boy being big enough to play ball with, to have long talks with, and experience the thrills of nature. Second, he imagined his last day walking out of his office, a fully vested retiree!

    Walking to his car, Harry shook his head as he imagined these two prayers realized. Looking up, he saw a boy holding out a newspaper to him. Behind the boy was a stack of about forty papers.

    “Hey boy, this is not the best place to be selling newspapers. Most people when they leave this place, they run and won’t hesitate for the news.”

    The boy didn’t say anything, which was strange to Harry. Feeling sorry for him, Harry dug in his pocket, took out the single dollar bill he had in it, and said, “Here, let me have one of those.”

    The boy looked at the bill, then lifted his hand, palm up, and waved it, letting Harry know his offer was too little.

    “I tell you,” Harry said shaking his head, and then scrambled into his wallet and took out two more bills. “Is this enough?”

    The boy took the money and gave Harry the paper. Laughing to himself, Harry got in the car with his paper, and saw that the date was for a week away. Is this some kid’s school assignment or a prank?

    But the paper looked legit and professional. He read the headline, “Last week, Harry Montgomery was minutes too late, having made an unusual stop by a 7-11, and was trapped outside of the barrier. One of thousands, Harry could do nothing while on the other side of the invisible and impenetrable barrier, his wife and child lived in what immediately became utopia. His son, no longer an infant, but like many of the infants on that side of the wall, was ten years older. In that isolated utopia, there is no need for work or electricity. It is a beautiful landscape that only God could have created.”

    Harry dropped the paper and in a near trance, rushed home only minutes before the barrier formed.

    1. jincomt

      Good writing. I got a little confused by the headline– or story– that Harry read. Your writing is easy to read, contains good descriptions, and you are skilled at moving the story forward.

  54. Frostie

    It was a hot, mid-July night when I arrived at the county library to pick up a passenger. I rolled my eyes when I pulled up to an empty curb.

    Five minutes. That is all I’ll wait.

    Just when I shut the engine off, I saw a young girl dash out of the library. She stopped, taking a quick look around.

    I looked around, too, wondering what in the hell she was searching for. But the streets were empty. They were the only two on the block.

    She didn’t look any older than thirteen and had long, straight, jet black hair with wide, bright green eyes and a pale, freckled face. When she got closer to the car, I saw a few spatters of blood on her shirt, and a dark red smear on her right hand.

    She jumped into the backseat, and closed her eyes, clutching an old book against her heaving chest.

    I gulped, staring at her in my rearview mirror. After a few minutes of silence, I couldn’t take it anymore.

    “Are you alright?” I asked firmly.

    She jumped at the sound of my voice, almost as if she didn’t know I was there.

    “I… I…” She cleared her throat, catching her breath. “Yes, I am fine, thank you.”

    She spoke with an accent, one that I couldn’t quite discern.

    “Where do you need to go?” I tried hard to keep my voice from cracking.

    She squinted, and stared passed me at something on the other side of the road. She furrowed her brows, pursing her lips.

    “You see that Mexican restaurant across the street? In about five minutes, a man is going to come out of that restaurant, and I want you to follow him.”

    I glanced at the run-down restaurant. It looked like it had been out of business for a long time.

    I looked in my rearview again, watching as she opened her book, poring over the yellowed pages. Everything inside me told me that this wasn’t a good idea, but I couldn’t find the strength to tell this girl to find another cab. I was too curious to turn her down.

    Sure enough, five minutes later, an older man dressed in a dark suit exited the restaurant, hopping into a black car that pulled up in front of the building.

    I waited until he reached the next block before pursuing. I followed him for about fifty miles outside of town before I looked in the mirror at her, frowning.

    “Listen, I’ve got to know what is going on. Why do you need to follow this man?”

    She looked into my eyes, studying me before answering.

    “I made a promise that I am obligated to keep-” she paused, glancing at the book that rested in her lap. “I swore on my own existence that if I ever saw this disgusting waste of a life again, I was going to kill him the same way he tried to kill me.”

  55. cathymcdowell

    I was in a hurry but couldn’t resist the cute kid selling the newspaper.
    “I’m in a hurry kid. I couldn’t resist those blue eyes of yours” I told him.
    He blushed taking my dollar and quarter.
    “Oh heck, here take another dollar as a tip” I said as I ran off.
    I got to the office just in time.
    If I was late one more time I knew the boss would can me for sure I thought to myself.

    “Good morning Mr. B” I said as he passed my open office door.
    He stepped back and looked in. “You? You’re early? how’d that happen?” he asked as laughed stomping away.
    I’ll show him I thought. That new report he said he needs by tomorrow.
    Well won’t he be surprised when I present it to him today I smirked.

    The newspaper I had bought lay unfolded on my desk.
    I decided to take a look at the stock market and the paper opened up to the lottery drawings.
    The lottery isn’t drawn until tonight, what’s up with this I wondered while turning the paper over
    to look at the date.
    That’s tomorrows date I thought looking at my desk calendar.
    The lottery numbers are posted a day ahead?
    How lucky can a guy be? I dreamed.

    I gave Mr B. my report and he told me it wasn’t good enough.
    I turned to him and said “This place isn’t good enough for me. I quit”

    The following day I walked in and told Mr B “you’re fired now.
    I’m the new owner and you are not needed here any longer”
    as I waved a copy of my winning lottery ticket in his face.

  56. onaway

    It’s raining hard. I buy the wet newspaper- this ancient form of communication, from the kid who barely speaks any English. I imagine my dollar feeds his sisters and brothers. The paper is the only thing white in this world anymore. Everything else has become grey. He never says “thank-you sir”. He never says anything.
    My wife had left me and she took our kid which was for the best but it woke me up to all the time I had been wasting. So I got back into school and became a scientist. And then I became an old scientist- my experiment had failed. Or had it? The lab is where I belong when I am well. Lately I have not been well. I have been… unwell. I would find myself daydreaming, blacking out, and losing track of time. One time I woke up standing in the stairwell staring at the wall. It’s frightening. Oh well.
    I glance over the front page, the bombs, the politics, the taxes. Everything I like to forget about as soon as I read it. The local crimes and times; maybe I’ll make the headlines one day… as a crime stopper or a hero, or another victim of time. The traffic is always bad and fast and now it’s about to rain. There is an icy chill in the air, but it’s refreshing in the summer heat. Everyone is in a hurry, the horns sound, the engines race and rev, brakes chirp and lurch. I wish I had a car. I can hear the rumbles of thunder. I try to block it all out with the words on the paper. I wish for an umbrella.

    Rain Expected. Arson Continues. Driver Arraigned in Hit and Run. The headlines hold little interest. I look up at the gathering clouds.

    “Sir, you OK?” It was the paperboy standing in front of me. First time he ever said anything to me so I knew something wasn’t right.
    “My paper?” I asked, annoyed. He pointed at my hand. Sure enough, I had already bought and paid for it. Somewhat embarrassed, I eyeballed him for a second quizzically and then hurried away, to hide my confusion.
    It was about to rain. I could feel the air get colder- what a relief. It has been hot and dry all summer. I watch all the cars and the people in the cars racing by. I want to go to the beach. I want to go swimming.

    Drought Relief Sought. Homes Burning. Man Killed in Hit and Run. These headlines hold little interest. Lightning! Looking up from the paper I see a car jump the curb

    1. Amy

      I enjoyed this story. I really felt the old guy’s bewilderment. The only inconsistency I found was in the weather. You had it raining in the very beginning, but it was about to rain during the rest of the story. Your plot moved along nicely and I liked your descriptions.

  57. Amy

    Okay. I didn’t think it would happen so quickly, but this prompt gave me a golden opportunity to continue from last week’s prompt, which was a continuation from June 19th’s prompt. Who knows, I may eventually have a complete short story here!
    Thanks for reading!


    You are elated.

    Two times now, you’ve escaped the wrath of the Mob.

    Adding to your buzz, Tiffany, your beautiful thirteen-year-old daughter, has found and forgiven you.

    Ten years have passed since you left your life behind. Ten years with no wife, no kids, no house, no money.

    Ten years without a wager.

    You are careful.

    Scratching out a meager living, you drive your cab and mind your own business. Today is an ordinary day, made extraordinary by the presence of you daughter.

    “Hot off the presses! Up-to-the-minute news!”

    You hear the young man, hawking his wares. No one seems to be buying.

    You feel pity.

    It’s hard to make a living in this dusty, one-light town.

    You toss him a crumpled bill and he hands you a paper, redolent with fresh ink.

    “Thank you, sir! This news is so cutting-edge it almost hasn’t happened yet,” he says, his grin revealing too-white, perfect teeth. He winks.

    You give him a fleeting smile and tuck the paper under your arm. When you look back, he’s gone.

    You avoid the news.

    You toss the paper onto the front seat as you slide into your cab. You are tempted to turn off your light, return to Tiffany, catch up on time lost.

    You sigh, wipe the sweat from your brow, pick up the paper instead.

    What’s this? you wonder.

    It must be a misprint. The date is wrong. July 31, 2012. Today is July 24th.

    The headline catches your eye.


    Maybe it’s someone you used to know. You read on.

    You are shaking.
    Sweat that was only a minor inconvenience a few minutes ago becomes a rivulet. The collar of your shirt is too tight, choking you. You can’t catch your breath. You’re heart is in your throat, pounding. Your vision is cloudy.

    You are in mortal danger. Your precious daughter will die.

    Unless you do something.

    What should you do?

    Think. Plan. Act.

    You re-read the article once more, objectively now.

    The demise they are planning for you is a slow, painful one. Your charred corpse is found in your charred taxi. You have been beaten and tortured. Your daughter’s remains are discovered in the shanty you call home. She appears to be unscathed, but you know these monsters, know what they’re capable of.

    You were once one of them.

    There’s no time to waste.

    You reach for the switch to turn off your light. As you do, the passenger door opens.

    “Sorry buddy,” you say. “I’m done for the day.”

    If you don’t listen to me very carefully,” the newspaper boy says, “you’ll be done alright.”

    “Where’d you come from?” you whisper.

    “Doesn’t matter. I’m here to help. Think of me as your guardian angel,” is his reply. “Now drive.”

    You drive.

    To be continued…..

      1. Kym

        nice job! i like how you told the story in second person, not always an easy thing to do. i definitely want to read the follow up to this prompt.

        1. fbxwriter

          I really like the second person POV, too. Nice job with tying the prompts together. I imagine it makes you that much more curious about what the next prompt will be and how you’ll weave it into the story.

    1. radioPanic

      Well done, Amy. Again! If you’re so easily able to continue the same story using the NEXT prompt, I’ll be a little weirded out.

      That didn’t mean to imply that this must be easy for you. You make it LOOK easy, which is beautiful. Not sure if many people want to read anything that feels like it must have been difficult.

      Whether or not this is easy for you, you have my respect. And if it IS easy for you…! :)

      Lookin’ forward to more!

  58. kapman33

    I was walking towards my car after doing some shopping at the local mall. A young boy, no more than 7 was desperately trying to sell newspapers, but without any success. I felt bad for the kid, and decided I would purchase a paper from him. I walked over and smiled as I handed the young man two quarters from my pocket. He smiled back and handed me a crisp new copy of a paper. I thanked him and went on my way, getting into my car and turning the ignition. I drove about 2 miles before I was stopped at a light which I knew took very long to change, so I reached over and looked at the paper for the first time. It was named “The Daily Omen.” I had never heard of the paper before, so I began to study the cover, and suddenly I noticed it was dated a week from today! Impossible I thought, what a foolish error somebody had made. I drove the rest of the way home smiling to myself at the comical nature of the mistake, thinking, “no wonder he couldn’t sell any copies, they can’t even get the date right.”
    When I got home I began to playfully read the paper, and was amused at all the stories in there that hadn’t happened yet. It was like a good tabloid actually, until I got to the business section. There was a big article on the rise of some new, up and coming technology company that had created the first fully functional artifical brain. Crazy, I thought to myself. The company’s stock had risen over 30,000 times the original price and was still soaring upward. I thought to myself, “man what if this were really true.” Then it hit me, I actually HAD read something similar to this a few weeks back, about the artificial brain idea, and all the experts had laughed it off.
    Something came over me and I decided to believe this story. The more I read, the more I was captured by it’s words. I decided to take a real chance, so I went to my broker and bought 30,000 dollars worth of stock, figuring if it ever did multiply 30,000 times it would be worth 900,000,000 dollars and still rising.
    The day the stock was supposed to increase and the company made the announcement couldn’t come soon enough. And lets just say this…I AM WRITING THIS STORY FROM MY OWN PRIVATE ISLAND IN THE SOUTH PACIFIC, LYING ON THE BEACH A MULTI-BILLIONAIRE. Do you believe in miracles, I sure as hell do!!!!

      1. rob akers

        Nice job.

        By the way, this never works in real life. In 2004, I bought 1 million dollars of the new Iraqi Dinar. It cost me 700 dollars and I am still waiting on the day when I am laying on the beach. But I am a Iraqi Millionaire. Ha Ha.

  59. cathymcdowell

    Not quite sure about the ending.
    He’s on the run but he only grabbed the kids arm.
    No murder.
    Is it to appear as attempted?
    Just not sure.
    Another sentence or two may have finished it better . . at least for me.

  60. slayerdan

    “ Keep the rest kid,” Alan said as he took the folded paper from the ruddy faced boy. He hadn’t seen a paper boy hawking papers in years. He didn’t seem to be dressed warm enough for such a chilly day, but that was his parents issue Alan thought briefly.

    “Thanks mister. Make sure you read page three of the LOCAL section,” the kid replied with a voice much deeper than seemed normal for a boy that age.

    “Will do,” he replied, grinning at the boys advice. He put the folded paper in his coat pocket..

    “Awful deep voice,” Alan mused to himself and turned for the short walk home. The air bit at his face and his throat was dry. He cursed himself for not dressing warmer himself.

    Arriving home, Alan did as he had done now for years. Preparation for Hell he called it .He put the key in the doorknob. Took a deep breath in and released it. Said a little prayer to whatever lowly deity would hear him, turned the key and entered.

    “Look everyone….you’re amazing father is home,” came the shrill voice of Abigail Smodeus, Alans wife. And the bane of his existence. Two small children, a boy and a girl ages 5 and 6, looked for a moment as Alan entered, regarding him for a moment, then returned to staring at the television.

    “Did you stop by the Johnsons and pick up the cleaning?” came Abigails banshee of a voice. She stood at the doorway to the kitchen, hands on her bovine hips, staring at Alan with her regular sneer.

    “No, its quite chilly outside and…” his words cut short by choice, as he realized she was already into her verbal assault.

    “….and I friggin knew you wouldn’t do it, something so fucking simple and my goddamend thinktank of a husband cant follow simple instructions,” she continued on and on, herding herself into the kitchen as Alan plopped down in his chair with the paper the ruddy faced boy had sold him.

    “The LOCAL section,” he mouthed to himself. Unfolding the paper, he perused the front page with its normal barrage of world tragedy and governmental mess. “ You want mess, come live in this Hell,” he mouthed.

    “Messed up again dad?” came the voice of the six year old Abby. Or junior as Alan called her to himself. Closest thing to a spawn as any demon had ever had. Alan simply stared at her and she once again returned to the television.

    The kitchen door almost coming off the hinges as she exited the kitchen, Abigail senior followed with,” and you know the battery is dead on the car—how can the kids and I make it to my mothers next week with a dead battery?” she screeched, then returning to the kitchen.

    His will to breathe all but gone, Alan turned to the LOCAL section and read the headline-Local Mother and Children Killed in Car Wreck. He read the names and the date.

    5 days from now.

    Standing up like he had been shot in the ass, he ran for the door, grabbing his coat.

    “Youre right dear. I will go get a new battery right now, I certainly don’t want you to miss that trip,” and out the door he went.

    1. Mimi828

      Grammar and punctuation needs some work, i.e. youre or you’re usage and spelling is wrong, possessive punctuation needs correction, etc; otherwise, enjoyed the piece.

      1. slayerdan

        Mimi—thanks for finding the your/youre issue. I am horrified I let that slip through, even though I typed it on my phone. It is a pet peeve of mine. I am irked, to say the least. Thanks for reading.

  61. abdelfattahmalek@gmail.com

    John Meager sat in the expansive lobby of the Pfister Hotel with a cup of coffee in one hand and a Blackberry in the other. He shuffled through his schedule for the day. He had a lot to do before flying back to Michigan in the morning. Finishing the last of his coffee, John slid the Blackberry into his suit-pocket and grabbed the leather briefcase that contained his files for the day and his laptop. He’d been irritated that the hotel, through some oversight, hadn’t left a paper outside his hotel room. Being a traditionalist, he still preferred to read the latest stock quotes and analysis in good old black and white, differing from his colleagues with their iPhone apps and automated alerts. As he was leaving the hotel, he spotted by chance a young boy wandering forlornly down Wisconsin Avenue with a pack of papers under his arm. It was obvious that he’d had little luck among the sparse pedestrians.

    “Hey kid”, John called to him. “Do you have the Wall Street Journal?”

    “Oh yeah”, the paperboy responded, brightening. He ran over, thankfully accepting John’s dollar in exchange.
    As he was walking down Jefferson Street to the offices, John idly glanced at the front page. What he saw stopped him in his tracks. His own face looked back at him, below the headline “Business Executive On The Run After Child Murder.” After staring at it for a moment, he thought he’d figured it out. It had to be a hoax. There was never a newspaper boy downtown Milwaukee. Combined with the similarly exceptional oversight by the hotel for his normal drop-off, John smelled a trickster.

    He chased after the boy, grabbing his arm to turn him around and holding the newspaper up. “What’s the idea, kid? Who put you up to this?”

    “Nobody, sir, I just sell papers”, the boy answered, wide-eyed.

    “Come-on, everybody knows I haven’t done anything”, John told him, needling the kid for a better answer.

    “Well, not yet”, the boy told him. “But that’s not today’s paper.”

    Confused, John turned the folded paper over and looked at the date. It was a week from today. This joke was getting old. He grabbed the boy by his collar and, getting angry, pushed his face close to the boy’s. “Listen, son. This isn’t funny. Tell me who set this up.”

    Instead of answering, the boy struggled to get free. Fear stood out in his features as he twisted and turned. It made John hold onto him even tighter, unwilling to let the mystery stand. Finally the boy kicked John hard in the shin, causing him to let up his grip. With a tear of his shirt the boy fell free, stumbling into the road just as a delivery truck plowed into him with a cracking thud that sent him airborne. Shocked, John looked at the small, still form several feet away.

    “He pushed him!” John heard a man yell from across the road. John turned and ran.

    1. cathymcdowell

      Not quite sure about the ending.
      He’s on the run but he only grabbed the kids arm.
      No murder.
      Is it to appear as attempted?
      Just not sure.
      Another sentence or two may have finished it better . . at least for me.

    2. mallorie_m

      I thought that this was very, very good. You obviously have a talent. I could really see what was going on.Your descriptions were great and I loved the emotions that you put into this. I literally flinched when I read “with a cracking thud that sent him airborne…”. And you had excellent foreshadowing. It hinted at it but didn’t give it completely away. Great job!

    3. DRoberts

      I understood the ending. The headline in the paper sets up the ending to this story. I like your story. I think you did a nice job of tying the ending back to the newspaper headline.

    4. jincomt

      I agree with Rob– a Twilight Zone feeling. The first paragraph was full of great writing and detail. I was wondering if you spent too many words there and didn’t save enough for the story, but you did it and pulled it all together. I’m impressed.

    5. Pdomoniq

      Nice job!. I really felt the horror as the boy tore away from him and was struck by the truck. And also as the person shouting that he had pushed the boy.

  62. Rebecca

    I was almost to my car when I remembered my daily paper. Turning on my heel I headed back the way I came and almost immediately I saw him. He was so close I wondered how it was that I had walked right by him before. He stood alone, staring at me with black, fathomless eyes that created an eerie feeling that maybe I should buy my paper elsewhere. But the stack that he was sitting on spoke of low sales and his skinny frame cloaked in dirt covered rags testified to his hard life. Compassion stirred inside me, so stepping over I gave him a twenty for a paper, waving away my change.

    I got into my car feeling self righteous and proud. I had done my part. I had helped. However, my do-gooder feelings did not have long before they were replaced by alarm and trepidation followed quickly by anger. I had just paid for a bunk newspaper…no wonder no one was buying from him. The date on the paper was still a week away!

    Scammers have always been a hot button for me, so it did not take long before I found myself back out on the street looking for him but to no avail. He had taken me for a fool and I let him. Furious and disgusted I tossed the useless paper on the ground and was about to walk away when the headline caught my eye.


    Quickly as I had threw it down I picked it back up, my eyes scanning the words faster than my brain could comprehend what the story was telling me. Was this possible? According to the article the president would be assassinated at his press conference tonight by an unknown male. Disbelief filled me; this had to be someone’s idea of a sick joke. Could this be real?

    Suddenly a thought occurred to me. I turned the pages to the weekly winning lottery numbers, knowing the drawing would be held within the next hour. After I wrote down the numbers I went and bought myself the ticket all the while thinking that I may have lost my mind. Was I really entertaining the theory that this newspaper was from the future and only I had the privilege of being shown its mysterious contents?

    The hour passed little by little, ticking by in slow, excruciating seconds as I waited for the outcome of the lottery. Needless to say, I was not disappointed with my winnings but I was alarmed that the paper was indeed legitimate. At a loss I sat in my car contemplating my options, knowing I didn’t have many.

    I went through the motions of my day in a state of shock…not only was the president going to be killed but I won the lottery. The evidence could no longer be ignored. Picking up my cell phone I called the police praying I was saving a life. Even as I asked myself…why me?

    1. Amy

      I enjoyed this Rebecca. You conveyed you character’s emotions of anger and bewilderment quite nicely. I would hate to have this kind of knowlege ahead of time and have to convince the authorities of its truth. At least she was paid handsomely for her trouble via the lottery!

    2. mallorie_m

      I think that this is a very good story. At first, I was a little afraid that this was going to be a bit generic with the president assassination but then you switched it up with the lottery. I think that, by adding that in there, you made a complete story in 500 words (which is impressive). I feel like I just read through a book really quickly. So good job! The only big problem I see with this story is your grammar. So watch out for that.

      1. Rebecca

        I am not sure what you mean about the grammer…in the 1st paragraph I did mess up with the boy standing at first and then in the next sentence he was sitting on a stack of papers but other than that can you be more specific…I might not see what you see cause I am so close… :) Thanks for the feedback!

        1. hillsworth

          I think what Mallorie is refering to is the one sentence that starts “Quickly as I had threw it down I picked it back up,”. It should have read something like “As quickly as I had thrown it down, I picked it back up.” Then start the next as a complete sentence of its own. Aside from a few missing commas, that’s really all I could find wrong with the grammar. Good story though, I liked it.

    3. Rebecca

      It had never occurred to me before this moment that I would be the one…if only it had.

      2 hours earlier…

      Morning had come without consequence, arriving quietly, leaving me to start my day as I had any other. A couple of coffees, light breakfast followed by a hot shower and I was out the door. In hindsight I see it was the lost, forlorn boy on the stoop selling the daily read that was the catalyst that sent my day spiraling down into the depths of the insanely unknown. If only I had kept walking…

      “Hey, Mister! Got something for you.” The boy offered.

      “No, thank you.”

      “Inform yourself before you turn me away because what I have may just save your day.” He insisted cheekily.

      Curiosity sparked to life inside me, I could never turn down a riddle. I handed the boy the required monies and thanked him for the paper before tucking it under my arm and making my way to my car. However, his last words stopped me and turned the spark into a fire…

      “The sooner you read it the more time you will have.” His ominous words hanging in the damp morning air causing the hair on my head to sharpen in frightened awareness.

      Quickly I turned back to him but the stoop was shockingly empty, leaving me with nothing but his haunting words. Words I would have done well to ignore. If only I had…


      ““An irresponsible employee abandons his safety post, missing the opportunity to stop the train’s derailment and the consequent deaths that resulted…””

      Horrified, I finished reading the article only to see afterwards that the date on the paper was for tomorrow. According to the facts listed in the chillingly painful words I just might have time to stop this and change everything. Off to work I went, armed with what I thought was the right thing to do. I was going to be a hero…or so I thought. I did happen to work for the safety department for this very railway, giving me the perfect access to stop this unthinkable atrocity.

      An hour later I stood watching the train fall apart in slow motion as a rail car sailed in the air towards me. It had never occurred to me before this moment that I would be the one…if only it had. In my effort to stop it, in my zeal to convince others I had never reported to my post, leaving the alarms to sound and no one around to warn the others.

      In those last seconds as death crept closer to me I lifted the newspaper wanting to know if I had missed something in the words that could have warned me that I was the one who would cause this. But the headline had changed filling me with horror even as death swooped in and claimed my life.


      If only I had…

      1. DMelde

        Cool story Rebecca! I really like this one. It reminds me of the man who leaves town to avoid Death, only to find Death waiting for him outside of town.

  63. cathymcdowell

    Poor kid needs somebody to buy his paper I thought to myself.
    I loaded my grocery bags into the trunk and walked over to him.
    “Hello young man, I’ll take a copy of your paper.” I say to him.
    “Thank you ma’am” the boy replies while taking my two bucks.
    “Keep the change” I said smiling at him before I turned to walk back to my car.
    I tossed the paper on the passenger side seat.
    “I sure hope that boy gets some more sales” I whispered quietly.

    At home I unloaded my trunk of the packages.
    Slightly out of breath I remembered the paper and thought I’d get it later.
    I made myself a nice hot cup of wild blueberry tea I had purchased last week after I put my groceries away.
    I hadn’t tried the tea yet and thought now would be a good time.
    The tea was too hot to drink so I stepped out into the driveway to retrieve the paper.

    I picked up my tea and blew across it with my lips barely touching the ho rim.
    I looked at the newspaper and noticed it was dated for July 25th, 2012.
    How can that be? I wondered. Today is the 24th
    It must have been a typo I thought as I read, wild blueberry tea has been found to contain arsenic.
    It went on to say, if you have any wild blueberry tea, it is advised that you take it to the local authority.

    My hands trembled as I stared at the full cup of tea. Had I sipped any? I questioned myself.
    I couldn’t recall drinking any but I did know my lips had gotten close to the cup.
    I quickly ran to the bathroom where I used mouthwash, brushed my teeth, used more mouthwash
    and scrubbed my lips with soap.

    “Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for bringing that boy to my site so I would buy his paper” I prayed.
    That boy saved my life I thought. I need to thank him.

    Driving back to the store I looked on the corner where he had stood. To my dismay, he had left.
    “Maybe I’ll see him again” I said aloud as I drove to the police station with the wild blueberry tea.

    1. mallorie_m

      I think that you wrote this quite well. The only critique I have against this is that you made it very obvious that there was something wrong with the tea. You kept mentioning the tea over and over. So you need to watch your repeats. Also, watch your tenses. You tended to switch them every now and then. I liked that she was uncertain about if she had drank any tea or not. I would have liked if you had expanded on that. I think that it would have added a little bit of mystery and suspense to your story.

    2. The Wired Journal

      I thought this was written fairly well and enjoyed the read. Not sure what to offer for critique other than perhaps shortening and trying to condense your sentences, and maybe revise the opening to try and grab the readers from the opening sentence. Other than that I liked it and the creativity.

    3. cathymcdowell

      While walking to my car I passed a boy selling newspapers on the street. He didn’t appear to be getting any customers.
      Poor kid needs somebody to buy his paper I thought to myself.
      I loaded my grocery bags into the trunk and walked over to him.
      “Hello young man, I’ll take a copy of your paper.” I say to him.
      “Thank you ma’am” the boy replies while taking my two bucks.
      “Keep the change” I said smiling at him before I turned to walk back to my car.
      I tossed the paper on the passenger side seat.
      “I sure hope that boy gets some more sales” I whispered quietly.

      At home I unloaded my trunk of the packages.
      Slightly out of breath I remembered the paper and thought I’d get it later.
      I made myself a nice hot cup of wild blueberry tea I had purchased the week before.
      I hadn’t tried it yet and thought now would be a good time.
      It was far too hot to drink so I stepped out into the driveway to retrieve the paper.

      I picked up my tea and blew across it with my lips barely touching the hot rim.
      Looking at the newspaper I noticed it was dated for July 25th, 2012.
      How can that be? I wondered. Today is the 24th
      It must have been a typo I thought as I read, wild blueberry tea has been found to contain arsenic.
      It went on to say, if you have any of this tea , it is advised that you take it to the local authority.

      My hands trembled as I stared at the full cup. Had I sipped any? I questioned myself.
      I couldn’t recall drinking any but I did know my lips had gotten close to the cup.
      I quickly ran to the bathroom where I used mouthwash, brushed my teeth, used more mouthwash andfrantically scrubbed my lips with soap.

      “Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for bringing that boy to my sight so I would buy his paper” I prayed.
      That boy saved my life I thought. I need to thank him.

      Driving back to the store I looked on the corner where he had stood. To my dismay, he had left.
      “Maybe I’ll see him again” I said aloud as I drove to the police station with the box of
      wild blueberry tea in a palstic bag next to me.