Cat Got Your Tongue?

You wake up for work one day, brush your teeth, pack your computer bag and head out the door. But when you walk into your office building and try to say hello to the receptionist, you can’t speak. What’s got your tongue? Can the receptionist speak, or is her voice gone as well?

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

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174 thoughts on “Cat Got Your Tongue?

  1. LucidNightmare

    It’s Monday. I wake up to the cold morning sun shining on my face. Unwillingly, I get out of my still warm bed and groggily place my wobbly feet onto the frigid floor. My cat, Shamus jumps up immediately to take my place on the still warm bed. Moving to the bathroom quickly to avoid the chill of the floor, I get washed up. Pulling on a warm sweater and thick woolen socks, I trudge down to the kitchen, still half asleep and pour out a glass of milk to gulp down.
    Taking a quick look at the time, tells me to leave soon for work. I sprint to my room and shove my silver laptop into my bag. Locking the door behind me, I race through the cold snow to my car and drive to work.
    When I walk through the door, I open my mouth the say ‘hello’ Mrs. Martha, our receptionist, but no sound comes out. I see the Mrs. Martha opening and closing her mouth and smiling kindly at me with sharp pointed teeth. Suddenly, she lunges for me, sharp nails red as blood, clawing from behind her wooden desk. Papers fly as I run away from her sharp teeth and gaping black eyes. I run past empty desks and eerily quiet offices and only stop once I reach the fire exit.
    I stand by the door, panting, as a shrill noise starts to fill my ears. ‘The fire alarm!’ I think suddenly alert and standing. I push open the door, only to find the blue sky and wind roaring at me. I look backwards to see a murky darkness slowly sliding towards my feet, and with one deep breath, I fling myself out the window.
    As I fall, small dark spots start to appear at the edges of my vision. Confused, I rub my eyes. ‘They’re still there!’ I think frantically, as the small black spots come closer, tiny glowing eyes illuminating the long, dagger-like teeth of the monsters. I let out a yelp of terror and find silvery bubbles of air float from my mouth. ‘Air!’ I think, and start kicking towards a bright light shining above. When I just about break the surface, something grabs, me, something thick and squishy. I gasp as it pulls me down into the darkness, covering my body in a thick inky black cloud. It slowly enters my mind, stopping the jerky struggles of my arms and legs. Suddenly I break free as my back explodes with a set of powerful wings, and I sit up with a gasp.
    “Well done Araina, not bad for your first try. Your results will be posted on the pillars by tomorrow morning. You are dismissed for today.” Says Michael, pointing his left wing towards a pathway in the forest.
    “Thanks Mike” I say, leaving the small clearing with a sigh of relief. ‘Angel tests are so weird’ I think to myself as I plod away on the soft forest floor.

    ———————————————————-
    Hello, I’m an amateur, so I’d really appreciate if you leave some criticism or something I could improve on. Thanks! 🙂

  2. C.S. Ember

    “Hello, Ms. Natalie.” The receptionist chirped. A new one every week, but this one was good. She was a nice girl.
    I thought back my hello, but realized that my mouth wasn’t opening, and no sound was coming out. Well, that was ok, I supposed. I tilted my head, waved my hand, and smiled, then headed towards the elevator that would lead to my office. The moment I was alone in the tiny box, I leaned against the back wall and closed my eyes, attempting to assess what had happened. Never, as I thought the words and tried to make myself speak them, did the actual urge to speak possess me.
    It was as if I simply did not care to speak. Words, the movement of my lips and the passage of air through my vocal cords, seemed like entirely too much work.
    This was a common problem. Well, for me at least, and I had just the solution. Rather than expend the small amount of energy required to speak, I had learned sign language.
    Yes.
    It was that frequent of an issue.
    And yes, trying to communicate through what amounted to most of my coworkers as inane hand flapping, seemed preferable to speaking and just getting it over with. Sometimes I carried a pad with me, and wrote down common phrases. Yes. Hello. I’ll have it ready. Not talking today.
    That last one.
    Just… not talking today.
    What was wrong with me? That I was so blasé about it? I just… wasn’t going to talk today. And even when I got frustrated with my own lack of communication, I would still remain silent.
    It was never scary.
    I never went into a panic.
    I just didn’t want to speak… so I didn’t.
    Once or twice a month, I had a silent day, and I simply had to live with it.
    That was ok.
    Nothing was all that important, anyway.
    I got through those days just fine, and those around me had learned to adapt to them as well.
    Then, the elevator doors opened. My boss, Andrew McAllighan greeted me.
    I waved back, and signed ‘how are you today?’ with that downward cup and that point.
    He sighed. “I’m doing alright. Another one Nat?”
    I nodded.
    “Alright, well make sure you get that report done today.”
    I made a loop with my thumb and forefinger, grinning. He knew I would be productive today. After all, I wasn’t going to waste time with talking, and all that time could be directed elsewhere.
    “Oh, also, check your calendar.”
    I looked at the calendar and groaned internally. We had a meeting at two.
    I would have questions. They would have answers. But I wasn’t talking today.

  3. frankd1100

    I’d slept well enough, up twice to the loo but an otherwise undisturbed night. When I reached to shut off the alarm, however, I knew it was back. The garbled growl from deep in my throat was meant to have been, “Oh fuck!” I got my feet on the floor and stood shakily braced against the bed frame to see how bad this one was. I shuffled to the bathroom sink and lowered my head beneath the cold faucet turned on full to fill the sink quickly. I let the cold seep through my skull as water filled my ears and backed up my nasal passages. Exhaling, my head submerged, I wondered, if I filled my lungs with water, would I drown or just end up thrashing around on the floor.

    My thoughts were interrupted by cold splashing on my bare feet. Never liked cold feet. I turned the faucet off and lifted my head, water streaming down my back and splashing over the basin’s sides, and regarded with sadness the lopsided visage staring back from the mirror. The left side of my face was perfectly normal, even ‘handsome’ my ex wife had said. But the right side sagged like a haggard old witch. My boss told me she liked the blend of ok looking and horror but she was a sex fantasy addict and of late I’d been her main drug. I’d been experiencing new headaches and aphasia, a loss of speech due to trauma.

    I’d started MIT’s club boxing team while working on a PHD in mathematics. When I fought for money at gyms in and around Boston and Cambridge they billed me as ‘Doctor EggHead’ which fattened my cut of the gate. My last fight, a rangy kid came out in a robe with ‘Doctor USMC’ across his back. In the third round he landed a vicious over hand right at the point of my jaw and the universe rained down as I bounced off the canvas waking up eight hours later in the ICU of Boston General. The Marine was there. He didn’t say anything. They don’t apologize for doing what they came to do but I could see relief in his eyes when I managed a weak thumbs up.

    I threw up twice while getting dressed and was an hour late when I stepped off the elevator to my office. I stopped to rest my weight on my fists planted heavily on my assistant’s desk. “You look like shit, Boss,” he said and jumped out of his seat coming around the desk in time to keep me from falling. I tried to say, “Just get me to my desk ,Billy,” but a low groan was all I could manage. Another pair of arms encircled my waist and began easing me forward but I went down and Billy and my very concerned and addicted boss fell on top of me. “What is it boss,” Billy was saying as I frantically tried to get them to back away from me but not a single syllable would form in my mouth as I began to lose control of my body until through a gray, buzzing haze I heard my voice saying, “No, no, no …” and then Billy saying, “Oh! The poor guy just soiled himself!”

  4. Reaper

    Classics

    It was a week after Toby’s funeral and I thought I was out of tears.

    Then that stupid bike arrived.

    Once upon a time a bicycle built for two was a romantic thing. That was before insanely high divorce rates and children that had more rights than their parents. Children that were too safe, but in Toby’s case, not safe enough.

    Staring at that bike, with the half a smaller bike on its ass end, I discovered I had more tears after all. I cried myself empty and I went to bed. No Nancy there to comfort me, she was at her mother’s. Our relationship was shaky before. After Toby… well, she blamed me for him, and to be fair she might have been right.

    After tossing and turning I fell into a fitful sleep. I dreamed the dreams of the damned. Images and racial memories of better times. Of days when wives didn’t leave you. Dreams of an era where we didn’t make the world too safe for children and yet very few of them died.

    When I got up the next morning, I went through my routine. I woke up, smacking the alarm to shut it up, and cursing work for making me get out of bed. I brushed my teeth, packed my computer bag, exited the door and drove to work on auto-pilot. All very robotic and mundane.

    All very normal.

    Toby was never far from my mind as I entered the building. I figured that was why the color drained from the world. I’d never been one to have vivid fantasies. So I guessed this might be a hallucination brought on by the misery. Maybe it was the receptionist’s classic look though.

    I opened my mouth to say good morning. My world went blank. No words came out, but she reacted like they had. Then she said hello.

    In front of my face I saw one of those old speech cards from silent movies. The curly cues surrounded the words ‘Good morning, sir!’

    I stopped in my tracks and shook my head. ‘Just like an old time movie,’ I muttered under my breath, ‘If only life still worked this way.’

    Still nothing came out, but she saw my words and rage etched across her face. I knew I was in for a speech, and one that I was going to do a lot of eye rolling through. This time the card that flashed wasn’t exactly words.

    ~The woman droned on for an interminable length about how terrible those times were for women, minorities, transsexuals and the like. A speech that even those who agreed with it were tired of hearing.~

    I moved towards the elevator and muttered under my breath. I don’t know if she saw what I did not hear. ‘It must have sucked to live in a time when people didn’t have to make up causes. When people knew you could love a thing without wanting every little bit of it.’

    1. Kerry Charlton

      I’ve read it twice through and now it’s circling through my mind winding back and forth across my senses. The point, no sensitivity in present life to ease the pain. Everyone is interested in their own values and has no quality time for a mourning process. Who is to blame, blame God, blame fate, worst of all, place the blame squarely on your most significant. Give the pain to those you are supposed to support in dire times. Make them pay, regardless of any responsibilty. A cold, cold process, shove the hurt, shove the responsibilty. No matter to whom.

  5. cosi van tutte

    And, just because….

    ***

    Lady Delilah closed her eyes and pretended to sleep.

    It didn’t help.

    The Idiot kept on gerbling insulting baby words at her.

    Her father had warned her not to use her magic. But really! There was only so much a person could take.

    “Oooo and wook at dose cutie wittle feet. Such pwetty feet. Yes! Yes, you have pwetty wittle sockie feet.”

    It had to be done.

    She would apologize to her father later.

    ***

    Lady Delilah closed her eyes and pretended to sleep.

    The Idiot meowed nonsense words and non sequiturs into the telephone. For some reason, the sudden ability to speak a foreign language had upset The Idiot. She had called her mother and was currently caterwauling the older woman’s ear off.

    Lady Delilah flipped her tail slow and casual-like. The Idiot was emphasizing the wrong syllables and holding out the wrong letters. It was absolutely painful to listen to. Yet, it was strangely gratifying. Such brilliant revenge.

    Of course, she planned to restore The Idiot’s language in a week. Give or take. She didn’t want to anger her father or the Gattini elders.

    Until then, she would enjoy the show.

    Lady Delilah purred as she fell asleep.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      I think Lady Delilah may have forgotten something. Who’s going to feed her and change the litter box, certainly not the idiot.

  6. JosephFazzone

    It is never easy.

    It just never is. The whole journey, every step, is a grueling climb up a monstrous peak with a very steep drop at the end. The point is pointless, and yet that is the point.

    “Cat got your tongue?”

    Cat’s got me by the balls too. Many would think that we’re the case.

    Such a playful idiom, tongue and all, and its history is shrouded in mystery, lending itself to the idea that it was parents of children who conjured the phrase as a way to make light of the situation. Sounds plausible enough.

    Cat’s got me pinned down and is ready to fire!

    Well that’s just a bit extreme isn’t it? The balls was bad enough, but annihilated by a cat? Where does the insanity end?

    Rhetorical, I’ve become a babbling brook during a drought, still babbling.

    We spin our webs, and weave our fantasy. We enlighten the minds of those who seek to absorb the imagery we have created. They take many walks in our gardens as we spin our tales, sing our songs.

    So the journey goes on, and I take my steps, and huff and puff against the difficulty of it all when it fact it isn’t so rough at all. It’s actually a privilege.

    Cat got your tongue?

    Hell no, the cat ain’t got shit on me.

    But this damn cold…

    Well…Ah freakin’ choo!

    I’m going to speak anyway.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Last sentence, ‘Here’s wooking at whoo.” Very clever right. No need to snooze n this one, it’s a brain ooze. A babbling, waddling, tabbleing tale.

  7. Cheyenne

    Quick Info: I hope nobody really minds but I went with this prompt, just changed it up a bit to fit the story that came to mind, which was literally the only thing I could think of when reading the prompt. Damn, writer’s block… If it is an issue, I can delete it and rewrite something up. Thanks 🙂
    Word Count: 263

    You won’t remember a single thing from yesterday. You won’t remember anything that happens for the next month or so, perhaps longer, actually. That’s just how it is. I really hate to say you’re underdeveloped or naïve, but your chimney is unquestionably clogged. And for now, it should be, given the existing conditions.

    Your surroundings will be unfamiliar, for a while at least. All you know is that you’re used to being warm and being near another individual. There, you could listen to music occasionally, and whoever was around you would always talk to you. It’ll seem like every time you open your eyes, you’ll be alone. But you won’t be for long. Somebody will be there within minutes to gape at you, speaking a language you’ll hardly understand.

    Without a doubt, someone will strip you down several times throughout the course of every twenty-four hours you experience for the next 2 months or so; you’ll be entirely exposed. Your body will shiver and tremble, instantaneously develop goosebumps, the thin layer of immaculate skin, that’s protecting your frail bones and what little muscle you have, will start to turn purple. You may scream, maybe cry. You may be too stunned from the warm liquid they shoved down your throat, which makes you sleepy seconds after ingestion.

    The people surrounding you will coax you to start speaking; they aren’t picky about what you say, anything will do. They’ll tease you about cats having your tongue. They will beg you to reach a so-called “milestone”.

    But you can’t. After all, you’re only just a baby.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      I liked this Cheyenne. I hadn’t a clue until the next to last paragraph. The baby better lay back and enjoy the time bercause the next 90 years or so will be totslly different. That is unless you’re a cat and then you live in luxury after you choose your staff of willing humans. Sometimes you float bewteen willing staffs of multiple humans who wait in sorrow when you don’t show up. Poor cat, poor cat.

  8. Critique

    Eloise sprinted through gale force winds and a downpour to the waiting bus, snapped her umbrella closed and maneuvered her way into the crowded aisle, and held onto the overhead rail. She wrinkled her nose. Breathing close-up armpits of damp grumpy Monday commuters jostling for space with their umbrellas and briefcases was not a promising start to the week. After three years she hadn’t adjusted to the West Coast rains. Give her sunshine and the snowy landscapes of Minnesota winters any day.

    The bus sloshed to a stop windshield wipers futilely swiping at the rivulets of water streaming off the window as Eloise exited and stepped down into a large puddle of water. Dashing towards the revolving doors to the office building the wind whisked the umbrella out of her hand. Eloise watched it sail away knowing it was a lost cause.

    Pushing soaked bangs off of her forehead Eloise squished into the foyer in her high heels, her skirt slapping against her bare legs and glanced at the reception counter. The person leaning against the high desk looking straight at her was the last person in the world Eloise expected to see. Her legs refused to move as she stared into piercing blue eyes.

    John Stedman, vice-president of the company she worked for. The love of her life and married to him for six months.

    The last time she saw him – or tried to see him, he’d refused to see her – was in a prison cell.

    John walked towards her, eyes never leaving her face.

    Her heart thrummed a deafening tattoo in her chest and treacherous tears threatened to mingle with the raindrops still running down her face. She’d cried herself to sleep almost every night. She dreamed about him. How she missed him.

    She opened her mouth but nothing came out.

    John reached out a hand and gently brushed wet strands of hair from her cheek.

    “You look…. wet.” He smiled. “Very wet.”

    Eloise breath caught in her throat. She set her computer bag onto the marble floor and reached up to catch hold of his hand.

    “You look amazing.” John’s eyes roamed her face. “I missed you Eloise.”

    She could only stare and press his palm against her cheek.

    John wrongfully charged with fraudulent handling of the company’s finances had spent a year in prison. He was determined to set her free and filed for divorce when the sentence was handed down. Eloise refused to sign the papers.

    The company’s CEO and their lawyers worked hard to exonerate John and he was a free man as of last night.

    Enough evidence pointed to one of the company accountants. It was a set-up. He was found guilty and sentenced to a lengthy prison term. The story made front page news in every Seattle paper.

    “John.” She leaned into him. “I always knew.”

    “I know babe. I know.” John whispered, holding her close.

    The office foyer bustled with people coming and going.

    “Let’s get out of here.” He said.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        There is a lot of soul and feeling in your 500. You did an amazing job with a lot of flesh and color for such a short tale. I agree with Joseph, you might think about writing at least a novella here. There’s plenty of story to do so.

    1. Beebles

      I got a real sense of character from this Critique and it had my interest piqued. though john seems like an upstanding caring man i couldn’t shake off the feeling he was gonna turn out to be a cad – or is that just my suspicious mind? good stuff. As a matter of interest, they were married for 6 months …. he was in prison for 12 … or was that 6 months before prison?

  9. nastimal

    Huh, Everything looks and feels a little different this morning. This was Jimmy O’Duel’s first thought when he woke up that morning. Everything looks so lifeless, almost like it’s in black and white. Heh, maybe that magician was right last night. The thought made Jimmy laugh as he was brushing his teeth. Who hires a magicians to a party for adults anyway? Suddenly, he heard a man’s voice that sounded like it came from the ceiling of his apartment. “Every morning, the geologist gets up an hour early in order to get in a hearty meal to start his day off right.” That damn kid that lives above me must have left his TV on again. The thought alone infuriated Jimmy so much so that he left the apartment without pants just to tell his neighbor to turn the TV off.

    As soon as Jimmy opened the door of his apartment, he was befuddled by what he saw. Jeremy Toots, one of Jimmy’s more considerate neighbors, looked completely different. Instead of Jeremy’s usual attire of a sweatshirt, jeans, and a pair of sunglasses, Jeremy had a full suit coat and a pair of prescription glasses with big lenses and a piece of tape in the middle. Suddenly, the voice was back, “Woah there tiger, I don’t think we’re dressed for work just yet.” The voice had a jolly laugh to it this time. “Look at our friend Jeremy. His suit is pressed, tie is straightened, and his nails are trimmed. Jeremy is all ready to take on the day.” That’s a strange coincidence for the TV to be talking about a man named Jeremy. Just then, Jimmy looked at his watch and realized he needed to keep getting ready in order to get to work on time.

    Once Jimmy got dressed in his normal work clothes of a button up shirt and jeans, he heard the voice a third time. “Seems like our friend Jimmy here is having a little trouble getting ready.” At that instant, Jimmy heard a finger snap off in the distance and Jimmy was instantly dressed in a suit! What the hell! Jimmy tried to say the actual words but nothing came out. “Now Jimmy, like Jeremy, is ready to get the day started.”

    Something really strange was going on and it only got stranger when Jimmy was traveling to work. Jimmy was astonished; men were in suits and women were in dresses, cars were actually stopping for people in crosswalks, the town crier was shouting headlines, little kids were pushing hoola hoops with sticks, and a gas station was selling gas for 35 cents a gallon. Drat, what did that magician say? It must have come true. Thinking back, the magician told Jimmy that he would be in a video. But what kind of video was this?

    Jimmy marched on and when he finally got to the office, he smiled as he entered the office. My boss will know what to do. As he walked by reception, he attempted to say his morning hello but no words came out. Instead, he saw white text appear a couple inches below his mouth that read HELLO. Once again, Jimmy heard the voice, “A good worker will always greet his co workers with a friendly hello.” When Jimmy looked at the receptionist to see if she heard it, he was shocked, white text also appeared below her mouth that read HOW ARE YOU TODAY, MR O’DUEL Alright, so it must be an old video from before people talked in videos.

    “As our friend Jimmy is getting settled into the office, let’s check back in with our friend Jeremy.” Suddenly, all the noises Jimmy was used to hearing were back, and a few new ones. Co workers Jimmy had rarely spoken to were coming up to him startled.

    One coworker, Steve Barnes, made a beeline directly for Jimmy, “Jimmy, you have to help us! That magician from the party last night…”

    “Yeah, who hires a magician to a party anyways. We’re not seven anymore.”

    ”That’s just it, no one invited him!” Barnes had been known to be a bit of a worry wart at times. “Jimmy, we’re in an instructional video on geology from the 40s!”

    Jimmy was quite taken aback at this, “What!? That’s insane, how are we supposed to get out?”

    Barnes was pleased to hear this as it gave him the chance to be the know-it-all of the situation. “I’ve been researching the issue for the entire three hours we’ve been in this predicament, I’ve been reading the subtitles of some of the higher ups in the company to see what they say. It seems there’s only one logical conclusion. We have to find the narrator. Find the narrator, find the magician. Once we find the magician…”

    Barnes had to clear his throat before the next part but Jimmy could guess, “We have to kill the magician, right?”

    “Jimmy, we have to kill Jingles the Magician!”

    To be Continued

    1. Beebles

      I thought this was a cracking idea that instantly made me think of Silent Movie and the Artist, though i got the impression that you had a more Pathe News image than a Chaplinesque one. Made me think how one would pull off a 1920s movie style scenario. Really creatively thought provoking. Want to see where it goes.

  10. Teserk

    This is not really a story, as much as a micro experiment in describing an experience…
    —————————

    I step out of the elevator and immediately have to dodge some guy pushing a mail cart. I stumble a bit, my left leg giving way under me. My foot feels like it’s on pins and needles. I must have stood on it funny in the elevator, and now it’s asleep.

    “Hey, watch out,” I call after the kid. It’s a lost cause; he’s already weaving his way in and out of the cubicles down the hall.

    Sighing, I shake my foot, willing the circulation to restore itself, and make my way forward to the reception desk for Carlin, Wade, and Smits. The receptionist looks up from his computer and smiles. His face goes slightly out of focus. I shake my head, trying to clear my vision.

    “Sir, are you all right?”

    I look back at the receptionist. Why is everything on the left so dark? I try to lift my left hand to my face, but it doesn’t seem to be responding.

    “Sir?”

    Something is really wrong. Panic seizes my chest and I start to breathe heavily. The receptionist stands from his chair and comes quickly around the desk.

    “Woof, woof woof woof woof?”

    Why does the man sound like a golden retriever? I try to ask, but the same unintelligible mess of sounds come from my own mouth! No, that isn’t what I’m trying to say. The receptionist reaches out for me, but I don’t feel his touch. I can see his hand on my shoulder. Is that MY shoulder? Someone else pulls up a chair. The body sits, but I’m floating.

    My next clear thought is, “I’m in a bed.” My mouth is so dry.

    “Wa…wat…water.” Why is my throat so scratchy? I cough and lick my lips.

    A face appears from my right. Who is that? Karen?

    “Oh, thank God, Frank. Frank, can you hear me?”

    I am bombarded by impressions: the feeling of stiff fabric against my legs, a dull pain in my right hand, a pungent smell mixed with the delicate scent of lilacs, the steady beep of a machine. Karen continues to babble, but I can’t concentrate on what she’s saying now. I’m still trying to process her first words. It takes some time to sort what she said from the volume of physical inputs, and even longer to formulate a reply.

    “What…happened?” My voice sounded slurred. Was I drunk?

    “You had a stroke, Frank. We’re at the hospital. Oh, thank God you can talk. The doctors were so unsure…”

    A stroke. Had she said I’d had a stroke?

    “Everything’s going to be fine, Frank. It’s going to be fine.”

    1. Kerry Charlton

      A very on.point description of a stroke. If
      TT certainly is a frightening read
      You display the helpless sense, the MC is going through
      For a descriptive tale you hot the mark well

    2. Critique

      It sounds like you’ve had experience with strokes or know of someone who has had one. This was very real. My mother suffered a massive stroke and from the research I’ve done you’ve captured the physical symptoms and fear very well. I’m glad Frank is going to be okay 🙂

  11. UnclePizza

    Here’s the fourth 500-word “chapter” of what I’ve started thinking of as Time to Split. (I’m not sure I really like the title, but figured I’d try it for a while since this has been around long enough now that it’s crying out for a working title.)

    Unless you have a cold, you might be able to get a whiff of the prompt somewhere under the floorboards.

    ——————————————

    Carlos closed his eyes and tried to think. He was accused of kidnapping a little girl – a crime he knew nothing about – and he was worried. The lawyer might help, and Dr. Townsend might help, but he really needed Tony.

    The thought startled him – who was Tony? Carlos had no idea, but somehow the thought of Tony helping him was calming. So Carlos sat still in the quiet place behind his eyes while his mind took him to a dark and peaceful room. And he waited for Tony.

    “Hello Carlos.”

    “Tony?”

    “I’m glad you came.”

    “Me too. Are we alone?”

    “We’re never alone, Carlos. I thought you knew that.”

    “So, Eddie’s here,” Carlos grunted, tension creeping into his voice.

    “Hey butt-fuck.” It was Eddie alright.

    Tony sighed. “Quiet, Eddie. I want us work together for a change.”

    In the dark place behind his eyes, Carlos could sense Eddie sitting across from him. Pat, Alex, and Conrad were also here, as was The Kid. They sat in a circle with Tony standing in the middle. Carlos was confused but not scared. These people were strangers – he’d never seen or heard of them in his life. Yet he knew them all: their names, their voices, even what they looked like. Even in the pitch dark.

    Tony was in charge; nobody had to ask. They all knew that he could tell them to come and go, but sometimes they could do so on their own. This was the first time that he had ever called everybody at once.

    “We have a problem,” Tony said. “Eddie started something but then somehow Carlos took control without permission. Eddie couldn’t finish and Carlos was taken to jail.”

    “Fuckin’ idiot.”

    “Shut up, Eddie. Carlos should not have come then, you’re right. But I don’t think it’s his fault.”

    “Well, it sure ain’t my fault, if that’s what you mean.”

    “No, not your fault either Eddie. I’m not sure what happened, but I suspect it has something to do with the shrink that Carlos has been seeing.”

    “You’re seeing a shrink? I always knew you were a pussy.”

    “Eddie…”

    “No, you shut up, Tony. How much longer do you think you’re going to be the one in charge?”

    “Keep it up Eddie, and I’ll dissolve you. I’ll let Pat and Conrad divvy up your shares. You want that?”

    Eddie kept quiet, but even in the dark Carlos knew that he was fuming.

    “OK,” Tony continued, glaring hard at Eddie. “We have a problem to solve, and if we can’t get Carlos out of jail then we’re all screwed. So here’s what we’re going to do.”

    “I’m not giving up the girl.”

    “Yes, Eddie. You are.”

    “Make me.”

    A scream was fading between his ears as Carlos slowly opened his eyes.

    “Mr. Duvall? You’re being awful quiet over there. What’s the matter, cat got your tongue?”

    Carlos looked the detective squarely in the eye before speaking slowly but clearly.

    “I can tell you where to find the girl.”

    —————————————————-
    Part 1 was posted under Dear Me on April 9
    Part 2 was posted under Clown College Valedictorian on April 14
    Part 3 was posted under Angry Doppelgänger on April 25

      1. UnclePizza

        Thanks Teserk! I’ve also been posting them on my blog (click on my username above) under the Serial Project page. They’re all in order there and cleaned up a little based on feedback I’ve gotten or things I thought of on re-reads. I’m glad you like them.

        1. Kerry Charlton

          Uncle, I.need to.go back and read the other sections. This is an interesting tale and I’m sure an exciting one when I pick the pieces up.. Good job here

  12. apennell21

    “Good morning Dr. Thompson.” Ada chimed from the desk. Her soft curls bounced around her shoulders as she swiveled in her seat to say hello. Seeing her every morning made his early mornings worthwhile.

    “……” He had meant to say “good morning” but instead flapped his soundless lips like an absolute idiot. David could feel the tips of his ears turning red. He rubbed his throat, gave a quick smile and made a beeline for the laboratory doors. He had been in love with Ada for two years, but was a hundred percent positive she didn’t even know his first name. Now, he was thousand percent positive that she thought him the dweeby scientist who can’t seem to handle the common courtesy of a returned “good morning.”

    David scuttled down the strikingly white hallway accompanied by the echoing pangs of his footsteps. He rubbed his fingertips against his throat. He attempted to cough, but even then he remained silent. No sound would escape his lips. Fear began to pulse through his chest as he picked up his pace. He had hoped this day wouldn’t come, but there was no denying it had.

    He finally came to his small corner of the laboratory. He pushed open the door and was met by the familiar smiles of his colleagues.

    “Morning David! I got you a coffee! It’s on your desk!” A small pudgy girl said excitedly. David had always been a bit annoyed by Hannah’s constant state of exuberance. He nodded his thanks and continued to his desk. He could feel all five pairs of eyes watching his every move. He normally greeted them all as soon as he came through the door. He placed his briefcase on the flat white surface and exchanged his raincoat for his lab coat. He opened the top drawer of his desk and pulled out a pale yellow legal pad and a black marker.

    “I have entered stage one.” He scribbled across the page. He held up the pad for the room to see. Hannah gasped as the rest of the group became wide-eyed and opened mouthed.

    “But you said it would take six months.” A tall pointy featured young man squeaked. “It’s only been thirteen days!”

    “You also said it wouldn’t be contagious. How can we be sure now?” Another colleague cried. David placed the legal pad on his desk once more.

    “We knew the risks when we signed up for this experiment. The symptoms are unmistakable.” He wrote as quickly and clearly as he could. “CAT is renowned for human experimentations. That’s what drew you here. Unless you are willing to give up everything in the name of science, I suggest you find a new job.” He held up the pad and watched a few of his coworkers eyes fall to the floor. He flipped the page of his legal pad and scribbled one last note.

    “If anyone asks I’m taking a personal day.” He dropped the pad on his desk and hurried out of the lab.

    Sweat was starting to drip down his spine. The symptoms weren’t supposed to begin for six months, if they were going to show up at all. David walked as swiftly as his legs would allow, his shins burning. He finally made it to the very end of the hallway to a shiny metal door. He typed in the code and with a loud beep he was allowed inside. In hindsight he couldn’t be more grateful that his team had taken the time to reserve this testing lab for the next eight months. Convinced the virus wouldn’t take to human saliva David had almost nixed the idea completely. Now, as he was the only staff with the entry code, he could let the virus take its course in solitude.

    He could tell from his frantically rising temperature and the severe slicing sensation at the far back of his tongue that it would only be a matter of minutes. The pain was overwhelming. Fast and furious. This morning he woke up completely fine and now he stood over a sterile metal bowl waiting for his tongue to literally fall out of his mouth. The pain in his throat threatened to steal his consciousness. He gripped the edges of the shining bowl as hot tears poured from his eyes. There was a devastating flash of pain followed by a disturbing plunking thud. David loosened his grip on the bowl. Sweat beaded across his brow as he forced himself to open his eyes. Flopped in the middle of the bowl was his tongue. Swollen. Bleeding. Decayed.

    David immediately opened the care kit that his team has assembled. He swished the salt solution in his mouth and thought he might pass out from the pain. Once he spit it into the sink he could feel the healing pains instantly at work. He dropped down onto a metal stool beside the counter. He knew he’d never speak again, but he could live a fairly normal life. He’d get a major pay raise while CAT got his tongue.

    1. UnclePizza

      OK, I’m not usually one for puns, but you made me chuckle. It took the long way there, though, and I’ll bet you could tell the same story sticking closer to the wordcount and it would be just as funny. Maybe funnier so since it would be tighter. Thanks for the laugh!

  13. chandra_wd_writer

    Here I go with the story of an Indian village boy. I stopped three Sci-Fi/Time Travel stories in the middle and ended up with this story. They were interesting stories, but in the end, they needed more time and word count. Waiting to hear your feedback. Hope you like it, and hopefully, my grammar has improved a bit from my first attempt here with the doppelgänger prompt last week.

    ***

    Summer was always a good time for Raju to make more money. His days started at seven when he packed his bag and took the bus from his village to Hyderabad, a city in south India. The village was fifty kilometers away from the zoo. He would pay three rupees for the ticket instead of five as he used to ride sitting on top of the bus. On a good day, he used to make fifty rupees at the zoo—decent money in those days in India. He was probably eighteen, and his parents were too old to work. The regular chores in his village would not earn him more than twenty rupees a day. His two elder brothers migrated to Mumbai in search of better work, and they visited only for festivals. Raju decided to stay in the village to take care of his sick, aging parents.

    The road was bumpy until it connected to the highway from his village. The top of the bus always had some large baggage and other items secured carefully with few ropes. Raju traveled on top of the bus far too many times, and he comfortably ate his breakfast while holding on to an iron rod with his left hand. He liked the fresh air and saving two rupees was worth the risk. When he sat inside the bus on rainy days, he always scared others with his “unusual” baggage.

    Raju always dreamed of running a circus since his uncle took him to one when Raju was a kid. For now, all he had was a monkey and a talking parrot. One day, when Raju was fourteen, this monkey wandered into their house. It was tiny, and one of its front legs was badly hurt. Raju tended to it with love, and it stayed in the house ever since.

    Raju named the monkey as Anjie—a word derived from one of the many names for Hanuman, a revered Indian monkey God. Anjie soon became a family member and always accompanied Raju on his trips.

    After two or three years, Raju realized that he could train Anjie to perform gymnastics. He remembered that the circus he went to had a few monkeys performing funny acts like riding a bicycle, walking on a rope, etc. Anjie was an intelligent monkey. Maybe growing up with humans from its childhood has influenced it. In a year, with Raju’s hard work and persistence, Anjie learned how to ride a bicycle, perform a few dance steps, and some other gymnastics.

    Raju needed a few more animals to have his very own, small circus. But he had little money. He purchased a parrot from a desperate fortune-teller and started to train the parrot to talk and sing. Surprisingly, in a few months, it could sing a few songs and speak a few words.

    Raju learned about the zoo in Hyderabad and thought he could put up a roadside show with the monkey and parrot near the zoo’s entrance to attract the visitors. His plan worked out well, and he had been going to the zoo ever since. Though he could not own a circus, this was good enough for him to help feed his family. The show ran for fifteen minutes, and people used to give a few paisas as Anjie held a bowl with his front legs and went to the spectators as they clapped. Anjie instinctively knew who would give a coin, and who wouldn’t.

    The show started with Anjie riding a bicycle. Then the parrot would sing a few songs then followed by Anjie’s gymnastics. Raju used to run ten shows at least on the days when there were more people. He took the same bus back in the evening at five.

    Raju was making decent money, and he was proud that he was taking care of his parents when they needed him.

    On this specific day, Anjie finished his bicycle act. The parrot tried to sing, but nothing came out of it. It was moving its beak, but there was no sound. The impatient spectators started to boo. Raju wasn’t sure why the parrot could not sing. It sang very well the day before. He tried for five minutes while the angry crowd left without giving any money. Anjie was intelligent enough not to ask for money. He knew when the show ended; it always ended with the parrot singing the national anthem.

    Raju wasn’t sure why the bird couldn’t talk. He thought it caught something. He packed his things with despair and waited until the evening to catch the bus.

    The next morning, Raju tried to see if the parrot had recovered. But when the parrot tried to sing, nothing came out. Raju was overcome with sadness as he wasn’t sure how he could get the parrot to talk again. He remembered of the day an year ago when he lost his voice due to a throat infection, and he thought the parrot had caught some disease, and it would get better in a few days.

    A week went by, but the parrot was unable to talk; it moved its beak, but nothing came out.

    Raju stayed home for that week, and one day when he was tending to his mother, he saw a small, black cat near her cot. That’s when he realized that the cat might have done something to the parrot. The cat was evil looking, and Anjie always chased it out of the house.

    Raju’s desperation grew as he was running low on finances. His show wouldn’t earn the same money without the lovely parrot songs. Meanwhile, Anjie was growing impatient staying at home. Raju had no option but perform with Anjie alone. He might not make fifty rupees, but it’s better than not to make any money.

    Raju tried in vain making the parrot talk every day. After a month, Raju decided to free the bird from its cage. It was of no use to him. He was thinking to buy a new parrot and train it. But that would take at least a year.

    With love and a heavy heart, Raju fed the parrot a few grains in the morning. Then he tried one last time, hoping it would start talking again. But no voice came out. He has now convinced himself that the evil cat had taken parrot’s voice. He took the cage out into the bright sun and opened the cage. The parrot flew out of the cage and sang in freedom for the first time. Anjie heard the parrot as it finished the national anthem and saw it fly past his head while he was relaxing on a tall tree nearby. Anjie instinctively tried to stand on his two legs but realized it was too risky.

    1. UnclePizza

      Chandra – You are a very good storyteller and for a non-native speaker you write in English very well. I only noticed one place where you used the wrong tense: “Maybe growing up with humans from its childhood has influenced it.” This is technically a correct sentence, but where you used it in the story you would have done better to say “had” instead of “has”. Also, in the paragraph before that one you say “Indian monkey God”. In this case “god” is not being used as a proper noun and should not be capitalized. The word “god” can be tricky in English because a lot of English speakers are Christian and use the work as a proper noun for their deity. Some Christians may also get offended if you use the word “god” as a proper noun improperly.

      I’m not a proofreader, so others may have more technical feedback. I really enjoyed the story. It could have gone on much longer and I would have been happy reading it. As it was, I think the last sentence might have been a little better. Nothing wrong with it as a sentence, but as a closing sentence, well, it seemed to lack closure.

      I’ll be looking forward to see what you write next week.

      1. chandra_wd_writer

        Hi Pete, I am really glad to know you enjoyed the story. Thanks for taking time to read and giving me really good feedback. Great to know God vs god. I will spend more time on this. Looking back, I added the last two sentences as an after thought. I should have spent more time on closing the story.

        Excited about the next week and thanks again for your time to read and share your feedback.

    2. cosi van tutte

      Hi, Chandra!

      I really liked this story. It has the feel of an Indian folk tale.

      As for the ending, I think you needed one last line to complete it. Maybe a reaction shot or last thought from Raju. Otherwise, this was a very enjoyable story. 🙂

      1. chandra_wd_writer

        Thank you for reading and the feedback!! I am glad you liked it. I should have called it out that the parrot intelligently escaped. And Raju will never know it. Though the monkey understood, it couldn’t tell this to Raju.

    3. Teserk

      I thought the pacing was wonderful. It reads like a folk tale, and I enjoyed it immensely. I will echo what others have said about the ending. I’m not sure exactly what happened in the last two sentences. Some clarification at the end would improve the story.

      1. chandra_wd_writer

        Hi Teserk, thank you!! I am glad you enjoyed reading it. Point taken, I should have spent a little more time on ending the story. Thanks for the feedback.

  14. moriahaberle

    I froze in silence, and then tried to repeat myself.

    Again, no sound came out. I felt my face turn beet red as I realized what was happening, and I turned my eyes toward the ground and spun on my heel to head into my office, becoming more and more dizzy. This couldn’t be happening. Not again.

    “Sir?” I heard the receptionist ask in concern behind me. “Is everything alright?” I knew she only meant well, but I let her words fade into nothingness as I hurried down the hall, leaving her with nothing but her curiosity.

    In seconds I was in my office, and my breathing was rapidly accelerating. I tried to scream out, I tried to call for help. I put each and every ounce of my energy into that one sound, praying to whatever God was listening.

    As the silence pursued, my inaudible cries for help somehow became pleas. I brought my hands to my face to find tears making their way down my cheeks. Deep down, I knew what this was, but there was no way in hell I would admit that to myself.

    As the numbness made it way through me body, I began to feel the bliss that always came with it. It’s difficult to explain, the way feeling nothing is better than feeling the panic, the pain. I managed to steal one last glance up before everything went black. Amelia, the receptionist, was in my office.

    ⁕ ⁕ ⁕

    I gained consciousness before I opened my eyes, and I dreaded what I would see. I always remembered just a little more than I would have wanted. But every time, without fail, my surroundings when I woke up were the same. I knew I would be in another hospital room, the profuse white mocking me in its usual ineffable way. I knew my mother would be sitting in the armchair next to the bed, looking like hell.

    I opened my eyes, accepting the familiar sight in utter surrender to the inevitable shame that was to come with another of these incidents. My mother smiled at me, the kind of smile that made me wish I hadn’t ever woken up.

    She gave me the regular speech about being more careful, but also knowing that this wasn’t my fault. We both followed the routine and pretended it wasn’t habit.

    Upon reentering my office, I may as well have had “shame” carved into my forehead. For some reason, having “shame” carved into my face seemed less painful an experience than this. I quietly asked Amelia into my office, my words barely distinct enough to be comprehensible.

    I closed the door behind us, and allowed Amelia to speak first in an attempt to conceal my utter mortification.

    “Sir, you should have told me you were epileptic when I started last week. I could have been better prepared.”

    1. Teserk

      I really felt the MC’s mortification over having an episode in a public place. I feel for him that past experiences with less than kind individuals have probably made these episodes much more traumatic than they ever need to be. You struck a chord in me. Well done.

  15. Jay "The Doc" Wilson

    SelfControl.False

    I sometimes have these thoughts, you know? Sometimes I want to get into someone’s house late at night while everyone is sleeping. I want to pick up one of their knives and I want to cut them. I want to feel their warm skin turn slick as they sweat the life out of their bodies. I want to feel their hot blood on my fingertips. I want them to breathe their last few breaths into my ear as I slowly listen to them fade from their pointless existence. Then, when it’s all over, I want their family to wake up and see what I’ve done. I want them to feel pain, to feel tortured by their loss and the fact that they can never fully recover from such a horrible things. I want to do that, so badly it hurts.

    I don’t, but if I did, it would start with the receptionist at work. Every morning I show up, and every morning she’s there. She smiles from ear to ear, a fake one that we all can see but she continues to pawn as if it’s as real as the caked make-up covering her normal face.

    Don’t misconstrue my last comment and think that I don’t like the normality of the real human. I do. I love how people smell unwashed, how people look without make-up. I love how their emotions break them, and how they break themselves more than other people do. It’s fake people that I despise, and I’m sure most of you will agree with me, right?

    Just this morning, when I got to work, I stepped inside the lobby, and there she was, just sitting there with that little phone device clipped to her ear. Her thick brown hair bounced over her shoulders, three of four strands sticking to her lipstick. She laughed that fake laugh and breathed those fake works into the phone, but I knew. I always know.

    That was the moment I knew I wanted her to be my first. Sure, I’d taken out cats in the past, even cut out their tongue because I hated their wailing and moaning and insincere cries for love and attention.

    That’s what I wanted to do to Lilly.

    That was her name. Lilly. It was cute, sweet, and unequivocally not a representation of what sat in that chair. No. What sat in that chair was a woman who cared more about her appearance and less about her true self. She looked through you instead of meeting your eyes. She talked at you instead of with you. She was a prime example of a human being gone wrong, and I refused to speak to her.

    This morning was no different. She greeted me, and I thought about those cats, thought about insincere gestures and thought about cutting out her tongue. I thought about splashing acid in her face to give her a reason to wear that god-awful makeup. I even thought about cutting out those plump lips, which had to be fake, too.

    Instead, I just walked past her, ignoring her yet again.

    I don’t know why she bothered making an effort to talk to me. I’m not an attractive man. I never have been, and I never cared to be, but my acknowledgement of this and my understanding of such facts, meant that I knew when people were bullshitting me. She bullshitted me a lot.

    By lunch, I had calmed down. I had rice and teriyaki chicken. It was good, juicy. A solid meal that wasn’t too heavy nor too light. The problem was that the people in the food court across from my office took too long to cook my meal, and so I got to work later than I usually do. This meant that I got back to the lobby after Lilly, and that I had to once again deal with her. I’ll make the food service employee pay later.

    When I arrived back in that lobby, something was different. She continued to look down at the computer at her desk, clicking away. There was no smile, just the slack face of an uninterested person sitting there, uncaring and bored. I furrowed my brow and walked all the way up to her. She continued to ignore me, but I knew she knew I was there. She knew my smell. She commented on how rare the cologne I used was, and was even able to name it.

    It’s worth mentioning that I don’t wear cologne because I care what I smell like. I don’t. Other people do. You don’t become as successful as I’m smelling like a rotting onion that bathes in shit if that shit where the diarrhea equivalent for flu-ridden rotted onions. It doesn’t happen. Manipulation is key, and cologne to mask the reality of human decay is always top of the list.

    Anyway, I sat there for a moment, and commented, “Hot outside today.”

    She simply nodded, and continued to look at her computer screen. She blatantly ignored me. At least if I had said nothing, it might have seemed like maybe she didn’t even know I was there. Maybe she had a cold and couldn’t smell me. It was certainly possible, at least, until I opened my mouth. She remained silent.

    Bitch.

    When I got back to my desk, I sat there for a moment and thought about how she reacted to me. If there was anything I hate more it’s when people treat me poorly. I can’t stand it.

    At the end of the day, I went home. I sat here for a while, too, and then sat there a bit longer. The whole time it was silent, so I was able to think about what she did to me. Then I realized she could make it up. I knew she lived with her mother and father. She had no children and no husband. I’m sure she had a good fuck she enjoyed from time to time, even if it wasn’t always the same man, but there was no one serious in her life. I wished there was because then it would make everything so much sweeter. However, her parents finding her in the morning would have to do.

    Now, I wait until the clock strikes one in the morning, whereupon I’ll make my way to her house at the address provided to me by the computer systems at work. I’ll sneak in, and I’ll cut her. I’ll taste her blood. Smell her fear. Feel her pain, and when it’s all over, I’ll revel in the additional pain her death causes. Maybe I’ll leave a note. Perhaps I won’t. I have yet to decide, but I’m sure whatever decision I make, it will be the right one and it will be glorious.

    1. cosi van tutte

      Wow. Your MC is one sincerely messed up character. 🙁

      Why do I get the feeling that he has a crush on her, but he’s too warped to realize it or to even want it? If so, I wonder how her death will really affect him.

      1. Jay "The Doc" Wilson

        That’s a very good observation, Cosi. Yes, he does, in fact, have a thing for her, and there’s only one small part that eludes to it. Glad you picked up on it. 🙂

        I wondered that, too, but I feel like he’s too cold for that to affect his life. He’ll blame her for what he did, and probably blame every future kill on her because she was the first and she was the first because of how she supposedly treated him.

        I like him and the possibilities and would love to continue to see where it goes, but he’s too messed up to keep writing about, so I’ll never touch him again. Probably better that way, too. My anxiety is bad enough these days, lol.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Taking me into the mind of a rejected killer and how he thinks is terrifying yet fascinatinging. I agree with Cosi, he surely is messed up and totally insane. You have to wonder some times, how many looneys walk around wanting to but never manage it. It is a truly thought-provoking tale you’ve written, brilliantly. It’s still dark out this morning.Not a safew time to read this, but oh well, I did.

        1. Jay "The Doc" Wilson

          I do wonder that often. I’m quite courteous throughout the day because I know I might run into that one person that is just off their rocker, and I’ll be their first victim. What’s even more scary than that, though, is that we live in a world where this is a very real fear.

    2. Teserk

      This is true horror. It is glimpsing the mind of someone who is so messed up and twisted inside that thoughts of doing things like this seem rational and desirable. It’s wondering how someone gets to this point, and then being scared when a thought pops into your own mind that is only a fraction as warped as this and wondering where in the world it came from and did that messed up guy start down just this path.

      Thanks for terrifying me on a Friday afternoon. 🙂

    3. JosephFazzone

      Dark and dreary! It is truly in the mind of a psychopath, and you can feel his angst at her nonchalant behavior. He takes it as rejection, and then it takes it to an evil place. Still, the MC is very dynamic, and I’m wondering if this will be his first kill, most likely, or his fiftieth. Either way, I hope he stays in and orders some Chinese. Just say no, dude!!!

  16. dustymayjane

    The elevator doors open and the rush of suits, male and female, press in. In walks Wanda with her giant hair and cat eye glasses. I cringe expecting to choke on the cloud of fragrance that surrounds her everyday. I know I won’t be able to hold my breath for the sixteen floor ride so I take my kerchief from my pocket and hold it to my face.

    Company policy simply states: As a company, Feline Finesse, Inc. is sensitive and accepting of personal style. We ask that our employees be equally sensitive to co-workers needs and sensitivities, abstaining from wearing perfume, colognes, body sprays, deodorants, hair sprays, etc., that may be offensive or overpowering.

    I didn’t understand or appreciate how this could be misconstrued or so blatantly ignored, but everyday Wanda nearly killed us with her over use of odorous products. Perhaps she enjoyed tormenting us. Each day when we reached the sixteenth floor she would exit the elevator glancing back with a smirk on her lips, as if to say, “Enjoy the cloud I left behind.”

    As a group we collectively blurt out her offenses. “Oh my gosh, I wish she would stop polluting the air.” “I thought I was going to pass out.” “I am going to take the stairs from now on.”

    “I’d kill for some fresh air!” My mouth opened to share the declaration but no sound came out. I continue trying to clear my throat as I wait for the elevator to reach my floor. I greet the receptionist but once again no sound was uttered. She frowned and asked, “Are you okay? Cat got your tongue?”

    I shake my head in reply. Once in my office I boot up my laptop and open my calendar. I see a meeting scheduled with W. A. Clark from personnel in five minutes. Just enough time to run to the break room. After drinking some water and filling my coffee cup, I am still without voice. Oh no, what’s this meeting about and how am I supposed to talk, I wonder?

    Returning to my office, I see Wanda seated in a chair opposite my desk. Wanda A. Clark, with her big hair and cloud of chemicals. She turns to greet me with her cat eye glasses perched on a long thin nose. “Hello, Thomas. I’m curious…How are you this morning?”

    Did she purr, or was that my imagination?

    I struggle to apologize for my lack of voice, except I can’t. Anxiety and angst overwhelm and overpower. My agitation at her sly smirk and cloying scent make me see red. Did she say she was ‘curious’?

    Through a red haze, I grab Wanda by the throat and squeeze tightly. He eyes pop and her claws scratch at my hands until she lay lifeless on the floor of my office.

    I’m happy to find that my voice has returned. “Curiosity killed the cat, Wanda.”

    1. Jay "The Doc" Wilson

      I love a good thriller. I wish the ending came slower, built up a little more. The explosive violence seems rushed while trying to understand what exactly Wanda had done to her that made her speechless. Was she a witch? Did she have powers?

      Despite that, the story flow was really good. The only thing that I hug up on was this line: “Oh no, what’s this meeting about and how am I supposed to talk, I wonder?”

      It was so utterly “telly” that I felt like it didn’t mesh well with the overall tone of the story. You showed a lot, but then you didn’t show any fear o worry or pain. Just one line.

      Anyway, a good story. I really liked it and feel like it has some darn good potential! Keep up the good work, you!

      1. dustymayjane

        Such good pointers. I think these were all in the back of my mind as ‘should dos’. I just need to learn to pull them forward and get them processed and on paper, or on the screen 🙂 Thank you!

    2. Teserk

      And then…O.M.G. What have I just done? Someone’s going to walk in here and see this and what am I going to do… Maybe the MC should go and stay with Jay’s MC for a while. 😉

  17. thejim

    It happened again this time as I stood before the receptionist in my office building. I could not speak. Nothing came out, I stood there like a fool and thought long and hard, I concentrated, I talked the beast down and back into its cage. I moved my mouth and words began to flow again.

    “I need your help Doctor,” I said slowly and deliberately as I sat in his office later that same day.
    The softly lit room oozed with elegance the leather covered chairs and the expensive ornate lighting was designed to give the feeling of relaxation. Doctor Goodwill looked at me from across his tablet he held in his hands and began to speak in a calm voice. “Scott, I know this is hard for you and there are many painful memories that cause you to stop talking, but there is one memory deep down That we have not found yet, one that you are holding on to so tightly that I cannot break in to free it to free you.”
    “Your subconscious plays an elaborate game of chess with me when I make a move it counters. I am glad this time you just came back here to talk. You know you are one of my dearest friends we have known each other for so many years, as children growing up. Even then I knew you to be different, unique. There is only so much I can do for you unless you let go.”

    He stood and crossed over to where I was sitting and sat on a dark wooden ottoman in front of me.

    I looked at him and politely said, “I know dear friend, but I fear it is beyond anything you can do.” I slowly slide my knife into his chest I could feel the blade slip in between his rib cage, the knife turned slow downward as it glanced off a rib and punctured his right lung. Blood slowly formed on his 1000 dollar suit. I held my hand over his mouth to silence his insipid voice. I pulled out the knife and inserted it into the back of his skull and slid it up into his brain with short and deliberate twist of the blade his eyes curled up into his sockets and his body went limp.

    I full, deep breath filled my lungs a release of energy left my body and I was calm again. I stepped outside and told Jenny that the Doctor wanted to see her. As she stepped into his office, I followed her and reached around from behind her. My blade floated across her pale throat slicing her larynx. Blood seeped down her esophagus and the gurgling of her breath could be heard until it faded as her lungs filled with blood.

    I took the burning rose hip scented candles and set the curtains on fire. The Persian carpet next to the bodies began to blaze I stood in the doorway to the office as I inhaled the luxurious aroma of burning flesh.

    I left.

    It was amazing how freely my words flowed, no longer is my voice immobile. For now I can speak and as a world renowned speaker it is my job. So I will be fine for tonight’s lecture. I have kept my demon satisfied for now, until it once again it clenches my voice with its piercing claws. Then I will once more have to appease the ferocious beast within, until then my sweet kitty… until then.

    1. Jay "The Doc" Wilson

      Psycho serial killers are my favorite, but this felt a little sloppy. To be fair, I really like your prose. They were descriptive enough in all the right places without going overboard, and that was perfection.

      What bugged me was that he sounds like he’d done this many times before, and yet, he made the stupid mistake of killing his friend (with whom he had an appointment with, so the cops will surely know who did it), and killed the receptionist. He could have killed anyone or at least killed a psychologist that he didn’t know using a fake name or something.

      Also, and I guess this is nit-picky, but this line: “I pulled out the knife and inserted it into the back of his skull and slid it up into his brain with short and deliberate twist of the blade his eyes curled up into his sockets and his body went limp.”

      He inserted the knife into his skull? You’d have ram a knife into a skull. Maybe not a child’s because they still have soft spots, but an adult skull is really strong. No so strong you can’t pierce it, but strong enough that you really have to try. On that same subject, I highly doubt once the knife gets into the skull, you’ll be able to twist it like. Again, the skull bone is strong. It just seems mighty unreal to me, but then again, I could be wrong.

      Anyway, good job overall. It’s good to see some horror up in here that isn’t mine. lol Well done, Jim. Look forward to more of your stuff! 🙂

      1. thejim

        I see your point – I normally pen Sci-fi – I thought I would try this.

        I could have been more specific, I know, the knife went under the back of his skull at the neckline. In my internal movie I saw it. but I did not translate that well. I need to pay closer attention.

        I also thought about him snuffing the doctor. When this comes out of my noodle most of the time it is like the first time I am reading it too. I get excited to see where it goes. I could see this in the middle of a story, so he would have some ulterior motive to being discovered.

        I do appreciate the critique and nothing you have said will go to waste. Thanks!

        1. thejim

          OK I couldn’t leave it alone – I changed it to this then –

          I pulled out the knife and inserted it into the back of his neck. I push the blade in slowly then tilled it up to inch under the back of his skull. I could feel a slight difference in pressure as it entered into his brain then with a short and deliberate twist of the blade his eyes curled up into his sockets and his body went limp. I slide my ring finger down the side of his neck and lifted off his sweat. The taste of the salty perspiration gave me chills.

          And also added that when he came to talk that it was an unscheduled time .

          And I don’t know why he tasted his sweat, has a thing for necks maybe.

          1. Teserk

            I would note that the knife entering the brain would do the trick. Twisting it shouldn’t have any extra effect.

          2. thejim

            Actually There are many ways one can have penetration into your brain and it not kill you. In the back of the brain true it effects more. But a sure way is to sever the spinal cord from the back of the neck going up through the Dura into the Cerabellum then slicing across and through the Brain Stem.
            – Just info you pick up that you hope you never have to use……again-

          3. Jay "The Doc" Wilson

            Here’s an example:

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

            He leaned against me, his soft wheeze heard as he struggled for air. My fingers caressed his hair as I searched the back of his skull for the soft spot. I found it, closed my eyes, and pressed the tip of the knife into it. After some effort, the blade slipped into him, the blood quickly running down the polished steel and glazing my hand.

            I leaned back and looked him in the eyes. He was afraid, his face twisted with the look of terror when one knows their life is finally coming to an end, and he wasn’t ready for it. He wasn’t ready to say goodbye. This I knew because the tears running down his face and his quivering lips pleaded with me to stop. I smiled, and leaned back into him.

            When I twisted the blade, I heard the soft tear of flesh and the blade ever so slightly grazing across his skull bone. He went limp, and he let out his final breath with a quiet wheeze.

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

            I think you might want to keep the sweat thing out unless you can work it in naturally. It seems forced, and the last thing you want to do is make the serial killer too weird. If you make them too strange, then it will be harder for the reader to connect with them, and if they can’t connect with the killer, then they won’t be scared of him (or her).

            Finished some research, and it looks like even with a twist, the person will still be a live for a bit longer. Guess it takes time for the brain to shutdown and the body to stop functioning. Might look into that part, too, for authenticity sake.

  18. Mark Coenen

    Talk about annoying, Lizzy thought to herself. Seeing that she couldn’t say it out loud. Her voice had been perfectly fine up until a minute ago. So, what happened?

    Lizzy smiled and waved her way through the remainder of her good mornings and then made a dash for the nearest elevator. She crossed her fingers, hoping she wouldn’t bump into too many colleagues while she made her way up to the thirteenth floor.

    Just before the elevator doors closed, a black cat squeezed her way in. “Good morning, darling. How are we today?”

    “I’m well, thank you,” Lizzy replied. Only to freak out when she realised it was a cat she was talking to. “What the… Hey, I’ve got my voice back?”

    The elevator stopped on an earlier floor and a couple of her colleagues joined her. “…” she said, trying to scare the cat out of the elevator.

    And her voice was gone for the second time. Lovely! She once again smiled and waved her good mornings. Lizzy took out her phone and pretended to be reading something on it. In the hopes that they wouldn’t try to strike up a conversation with her. What was up with her voice and that damn cat? She wasn’t imagining the cat, of that much she was sure. Seeing as one or her coworkers was actually petting it.

    By the time they had reached the twelfth floor it was just the two of them again. “Hello, Kitty!” Lizzy said, much to her own surprise. “Seriously, what’s up with my voice today?”

    “Hello, Lizzy!” The cat replied. “I’m afraid that’s my fault. You’ll be back to normal in a day or two. In that regard, that is.” Pausing for a second to let the words sink in before continuing. ”And if you wouldn’t mind, my name is Freya, not Kitty. Which is hardly original, I might add.”

    “Uhm.” Lizzy’s voice wasn’t once again gone, she just didn’t know how to reply. And choosing not to at all when the elevator doors opened for her on the thirteenth floor. Swiftly and without further ado she fought her way through the maze of cubicles. Every now and then she shot a quick glance over her shoulder to check if her furry little stalker was still in pursuit. Which he was for the first four times…

    On one hand relieved, Lizzy almost ran the last fifteen meters to her own cubicle. Only to shriek when she saw the very same black cat sitting in her office chair.

    Freya jumped up from the chair and onto Lizzy’s desk with little to no effort. “Please, sit. I mean you no harm. Quite the opposite, actually.“

    “Right…” Lizzy said as she sat down in her office chair. Rolling it back a bit to create some distance between the two of them. “ Alright, start talking then.”

    “The gist of it is; I’m a witch. A cursed witch, to be more precise. And you’re the only one who can help me, Lizzy.”

    Sadly for Freya. Lizzy wasn’t listening anymore, as she had tumbled out of her chair and had collapsed on the floor.

    “Great, and we haven’t actually even gotten to the really unbelievable stuff yet…” Freya mused.

  19. JosephFazzone

    “Meow?”

    Salty and crude, the receptionist lifted her nose to me. “Do you have an appointment?”

    “Me…” I clamped my mouth shut, and tried to focus my next syllable. “…ow?”

    Her eyes narrow, and then widen with alarm as she glances at her monitor.

    “The cataminant is loose,” she shrieks. She slams her hand on an obnoxiously large red button.

    Bells and whistles cry out into the office. A mousy elderly woman who was reading a Good Housekeeping magazine leaps off the chair, and tackles me. I never knew such a diminutive lady could hit so hard. My head bangs against the front of the receptionist’s desk, and I go down hard.

    “Meow!” I cry out in pain.

    The door to leading to the main office burst opens and two clowns and a hat rack rush in.

    “Meow!” I protested loudly. I hear the front office door open.

    “On the brink! Me thinks this one sinks like a kink on a Vizzy Vuzzy Vink,” a voice said.

    “That’s him!” The old lady shrieked and pointed.

    I looked and saw a seven foot tall black and white striped cat wearing a large top hat.

    “Cataminant! Cataminant!” the receptionist gasped in terror.

    She coughed, turned blue, and fainted, her head banging loudly on her desktop.

    The clowns cornered the large feline as the hat rack stood there, waiting with the patience only a hat rack knows.

    “Easy now, here kitty kitty,” The taller clown cooed.

    “Tricks on wicks,” The cat waggled his fingers as he quipped. “Gimmicks for the sick on the kick from the slick who train the Bibally Blicks to prick the Zuppity Zobbity Zicks.”

    The hat rack snapped. “Just gimme the hat!”

    The cat eyed them warily. The taller clown edged his floppy oversized shoe just an inch forward when the cat attacked. Forged by a lifetime of whimsically conceived rhyme, it was no surprise to see the cat’s rage when he tore into the clowns. Balloon pieces, confetti, and plastic flowers covered the floor.

    The clowns were down. The elderly woman snarled, and cursed and launched herself at the cat with a high pitched yip that would make Xena the Warrior Princess proud. She barreled into the cat, knocking him down, and then got him in a leg lock.

    “Oh please, my leg,” pleaded the cat. “Oh please, I beg. Have pity on the witty with thoughts so pretty to let me loose, from this noose you have upon my leg. It could crack an egg.”

    “Just an egg?” The hat rack asked. “Not a Moose Egg or a Keg Bleg’s Egg?”

    The cat’s shoulders slumped in defeat.

    “Now,” the hat rack continued. “Your hat, sir.”

    The cat nodded slowly, got up, and obediently went over to the hat rack. He took off his head, sighed exaggeratedly, and then hung it on one of the hooks on the hat rack.

    “Excellent,” the hat rack bowed. “The doctor will see you now.”

    The clowns got up, and brushed themselves off, opened the back office door, and escorted the sobbing cat through.

    The tall one muttered as he left, “And to think I was clown class valedictorian. I thought the sky was the limit.”

    The hat rack countered as it followed the clowns, “I was once a tree.”

    The door closed.

    The old lady went back to her bench, straightened herself up, and resumed reading her magazine.

    The receptionist took a deep breath, and popped up from the desk. She cleaned up her desk, wiped some drool from her face, reached into her purse, and pulled out her compact. She began retouching her makeup, and only after she was satisfied, did she look my way.

    “Do you have an appointment?” She inquired.

    “Meow?”

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Joseph, I have no idea what you’ve been drinking or eating but please oh pretty please, I want some! This is marvelously funny and the rhyme is perfect for a new Alice in Wonderland, maybe not as scary as the original version but twice as amusing.

      1. JosephFazzone

        Thanks, Kerry! Truly I just think this strangely. I love twists on twists, and just playing with the story. Someday I hope to capture this on a much larger scale, like a book. My current book is just a bit too serious. Maybe I should go back in, and scramble it up some. =)

    2. Critique

      I absolutely loved this!! Lots of mayhem and action, silly witty sayings and wrapped up to a perfect conclusion. Way to go Joseph. This needs to be in book form.

  20. MattD288

    I’m showered, I’m dressed. I reach for my computer bag, put my laptop in and head for work. At the bus stop I noticed a homeless lady with a child, she reached her hand out but I avoided eye contact. It’s best to avoid eye contact with them because, never mind the bus is here.

    It’s only a 20 minute ride to work which isn’t so bad and working for ‘ItzReal Media’ news agency in the city isn’t so bad either. I especially like the view from my office windows.

    I walk through the revolving doors and feel the familiar peaceful environment an air conditioned high end building can provide. I look over at the receptionist to to blurt out the usual, meaningless “Good Morning/How are you” but I’m having trouble. The words aren’t coming out, I cough to clear my throat for a second attempt and still nothing.

    The receptionist is too involved with her phone to even notice or care but I’m horrified. I turn around, push through the revolving doors as hard as I can and run six blocks to the nearest hospital. I rush through the automatic emergency room doors and stumble onto the counter, frantically trying to be heard. A middle aged woman sitting behind the plexiglass doesn’t budge. I wave my arms at her and I slam my computer bag on the counter as hard as I can. My laptop is broken and despite my best attempts for attention, she doesn’t bat an eye. I notice everyone in the waiting room didn’t hear me either so I thought “no one can see me”. I took my computer bag, walked out to the street and headed home as fast as possible.

    As I was crossing the street toward my building, I noticed the homeless woman with a child at the bus stop. She was looking at me, she was the only person who’s looked at me since I left for work. As I got closer to her she began to grin. I stood in front of her and she began to smile, reaching her hand out. I nervously reached for my wallet and began taking out money. She slowly pushed away my wallet, money and grabbed my hand gently pulling me close. She whispered into my ear “today, you know how it feels like to be me”

    I backed away and ran towards my building door while fishing for my keys. I burst through my apartment door. An intense pain took over my lungs and my legs were giving up. I reached for my bedroom door, leaning on the doorknob as it steadily swung open. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up as I saw my own body laying in bed. I managed to crawl over to my lifeless body and shake myself awake, in a split second I was up.

    I jumped out of bed and hit the floor screaming, shouting any word that popped into my head, sweating with a severe nose bleed. I stuffed toilet paper up my nose and ran out the door wearing only my underwear. I sprinted to the bus stop looking for the homeless woman with a child and instead I was met with shocked faces. I asked “did any of you see a homeless..” I stopped because everyone at the bus stop was laughing and recording me with their cell phones.

    I quickly got back home, confused and thought “so all of this was just a dream”. I reached for my computer bag and inside of it was my laptop, broken into pieces.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        A dream within another dream perhaps. Or an extreme sense of guilt from ignoring the homeless woman and child. And then back to total reality with the last sentence. A thought producing response here. A lot of descriptive prose here. A small conversation between the homeless woman with the child and the MC might strengthen the story some. Especially if she pleads verbally and he rejects her with conversation. Just a two cent thought.

    1. Jay "The Doc" Wilson

      It certainly reminds me of the old fairy tale where the old which teaches the fool a hard lesson through trickery. The story jumps around a bit too much, but otherwise, I liked it. Makes me what to watch Beast for some reason. 😉 Good job, though. Keep up the good work.

  21. cosi van tutte

    So, I took a few liberties with the prompt…

    Sorry about the length. 🙁

    ***
    He stood on the other side of the chain-linked fence. His features morphed into Hildreth into Ambrose into Hildreth into Ambrose.

    Elsie wanted to look away. She wanted to turn and leave him behind. She couldn’t.

    “Elsie…” Was that Ambrose’s voice or was it Hildreth’s? “I love you.”

    Her chest hurt. Why wouldn’t his features settle? Why couldn’t she tell whose voice it was?

    “Come, Elsie.” Ambrose’s features lingered a little too long on his face. “Dance with me.”

    ***

    Elsie woke up with tear trails on her face and in her hair. The dream had ended, but the pain remained.

    She raised her hand in front of her face and stared at her wedding ring. – a rose gold band with a pear-shaped diamond surrounded by a cluster of mustard seed-sized rubies. I would have been happy with a simple pearl ring, but Hildreth had insisted on the best.

    Hildreth. I remember his smile, his laugh, his arms holding me tight.

    I remember staking him.

    Elsie rubbed away her tears, crawled out of bed, and got dressed. Time and memory can give me emotional blisters and burns, but the reality is: It just doesn’t matter. I still have a job to do, even if I don’t enjoy doing it anymore.

    Ambrose. She twirled her hair up into a fierce top knot and refused to think about him. Hildreth should be here, getting ready alongside me.

    The pain in her chest grew stronger as she remembered finding him. He sat huddled in a corner of an abandoned warehouse. He was hungry, but he refused to eat. His body wouldn’t stop shaking. She offered herself to him. He looked up at her with tears in his inhuman eyes and told her to stake him.

    She fluffed on the right ratio of make-up to blush and smoothed blood red lipstick across her lips. Hildreth never told her who had changed him, but he didn’t have to. She knew that it was Ambrose.

    Elsie opened her great-grandfather’s war chest and pulled out a vast assortment of stakes and other vampire hunting weapons, including Hildreth’s favorite – the Bossman 55. She packed them all over her person.

    If I ever find him, I swear I’ll make him pay.

    I will kill him.

    ***

    Ambrose closed his eyes and tried to meditate. Cool rivers. Steady streams. Gentle breeze. Elsie. She appeared in his mind – a lovely, lithe figure. He opened his eyes. “Blasted wench! It’s been two years. Why can’t I get you out of my mind?”

    Truculent Jamison shook his large head. “You aren’t trying hard enough.”

    Ambrose snarled at the gargoyle.

    Truculent pressed his wings flat against his back in a submissive gesture. “Do you wish to try again?”

    “Why? It doesn’t work. You know it doesn’t work, you cheap-laced charlatan.”

    “So you say.”

    “I’ll be thinking about her until the day I’m staked.”

    The gargoyle smiled an enigmatic smile. “You know where to find me when you change your mind.” He opened his wings and flew up into the night sky.

    Ambrose slouched against the building and folded his arms across his chest. “Moldering monster. I should have bit him when I had the chance.”

    ***

    To be continued….

    1. cosi van tutte

      Continuation….

      ***

      Seems like it’s going to be a slow night. I’ve staked only fifteen vampires in the past two hours.

      Elsie climbed on top of a small mausoleum and sat down. She looked up at the sky. I wonder if it’s this quiet back in Havaton. I shouldn’t have left. Havaton was my city to protect. It was my responsibility. My job.

      But I had to leave. No matter where I went, I found something or heard something that reminded me of Hildreth…of Ambrose. Even Professor Shinowa could see that I was losing my focus. He called Jenett to take my place.

      An owl flew silently overhead.

      Maybe I’ll return. Someday.

      Elsie stretched – a long, strong stretch. Well. If they aren’t going to come to me, I’ll go looking for them. She jumped off and landed with all of the grace and ease of a mountain lion.

      She left the Save A Soul Cemetery and walked down the sidewalk heading to town.

      ***

      Traffic flowed and glowed past his street corner. Sporadic groups of humans strolled past Ambrose. None of them particularly cared that a vampire was lurking on the corner of West Midge and Divine. None of them even noticed him. He could have grabbed any one of them, but he wasn’t in the mood.

      I thought she’d want me after he was out of the way.

      I thought that moving to the city would make things easier.

      I thought I’d forget her within a week.

      I thought undergoing therapy sessions with a full blooded gargoyle would make me forget her.

      He unfolded his arms and dug his fingers into his hair. “How could I be wrong about so many things?”

      Ambrose released his hair and leaned his head against the building’s rough bricks. Why can’t I forget her?

      ***

      Coral-colored street lights and black shadows patterned the sidewalk. Darkened cars slept along the street. Not a single soul – human or otherwise – was anywhere in sight. It was a perfect set-up for a vampire attack.

      She stopped and listened. Someone was running to catch up to her. Someone with light, soft feet. She knew that it wasn’t a vampire. Vampire foot falls were silent. But vampires weren’t the only danger in this part of town.

      Elsie reached into her vest and pulled out two iron tipped stakes.

      The footsteps stopped.

      She felt a presence right behind her.

      Who’s there? She wished that she could have shouted it, but her voice had stopped working two years ago.

      Before Elsie could even start to turn around, someone yanked the Bossman 55 off her back and ran.

      She threw caution to the wind and raced after the thief.

      ***

      A familiar scent of lily of the valley mixed with musk drifted past Ambrose’s face. He opened his eyes wide. “It can’t be.”

      He raised his head and scanned the pedestrians and the car-clogged streets. “I don’t see her.”

      The whiny blare of a car horn jerked his attention to the right.

      A small elf girl in a shabby dress ducked and dived through traffic with an oversized weapon cradled in her arms.

      Ambrose stared in wordless shock as a human female pursued the elf. I’ve crossed the fine line between sane and insane. I’m hallucinating. There’s no other explanation.

      The elf reached the other side of the street and raced right past him.

      He held still and waited.

      ***

      To be continued…..

      1. cosi van tutte

        Conclusion…

        ***

        A yellow taxi blared its horn as Elsie jumped in front of it. The driver stuck his head out of his window and yelled obscenities.

        The thief beat her to the other side and ran down the sidewalk.

        Elsie set her mouth into a determined line. That was Hildreth’s favorite weapon. I will not let her get away with it.

        She darted around a Dodge Stratus, two bicyclists, a whole gang of motorcyclists, and finally set foot on the sidewalk.

        The blended scent of mocha, oak, and musk made her stop.

        “Hello, Elsie.”

        She turned to face him.

        Ambrose looked at the weapons in her hand and tilted his head. “Hmm.” He raised his gaze to her face. “It’s been two years. Are you going to stake me without even saying hello?”

        Words flooded her mind and filled her throat. But she couldn’t speak.

        He walked up to her and stroked her face. “I’ve missed you.”

        A dizzying euphoria came over her. She closed her eyes and felt her body falling under his spell.

        Hildreth. I need to think of Hildreth.

        But it was Ambrose’s face that she saw and Ambrose’s voice that she heard.

        He whispered in her ear, “Did you miss me?”

        She gasped as Hildreth appeared in her mind. Huddled in a corner. Pleading for death.

        “It doesn’t have to be like this.” His voice was gentle and persuasive. “We could be together for eternity. All it will take is just one small bite.”

        She opened her eyes and projected one loud NO! into his mind.

        He flinched and released his hold on her.

        I saw what you did to him. To my husband. Tears filled her eyes. I don’t want to be like that. I don’t want to become a monster like you.

        He smiled. “Am I such a monster, Elsie?”

        I had to stake my husband because of you.

        “So. Will you stake me too?”

        Yes.

        “Will it make you happy to kill the first man you loved?”

        You are not a man. You’re a monster.

        “Will it make you happy, Elsie?”

        If I don’t do it, I’ll never forgive myself.

        “And if you do? Will you be happy?”

        Stop asking me that!

        “I love you.”

        She thought about Hildreth. He had wanted to bite her. She saw it in his eyes. But he resisted. Even though he was weak and starving, he had resisted. His skin was so cold. He couldn’t stop shaking.

        A sympathetic expression came over his face. “I’m sorry. I didn’t expect him to turn out that way.”

        You expected him to be a bloodsucker like you.

        “Yes. And I am not like him. I don’t want you to stake me. If you try, I will fight you. I will bite you. If you’re lucky, I will kill you. If you aren’t lucky…Well. We both know what will happen.”

        Elsie considered the stakes in her hands. I should kill him. He deserves it. But…will it make me happy? If I let him live…But Hildreth’s gone because of him. I can’t let him get away with it. I can’t. I can’t!

        “Come, Elsie. Dance with me.”

        She raised her weapons and lunged at him.

        1. Kerry Charlton

          What a spellbinder of a story . I loved the running thoughts and personal struggle that Elsie felt, like a love and hate story. I hope you don’t continue because II’m building my own ending to this. This plot would make a great film if you did expand it. Think about it.

          1. cosi van tutte

            Thanks, Kerry!

            I’m glad you enjoyed it.

            For some reason, the parts with Elsie’s POV were tricky for me to write. I kept winding up with a lot of She did this and She did that sentences. Especially in the whole section with her getting ready. 🙁

            I have all of my Elsie and Ambrose stories saved on my computer in one big document. So, one of these days, I’m going to sit down and whip that document into cohesive shape. 😀

        2. UnclePizza

          Hi Cosi – this was a little tricky for me to follow, probably more because I’m tired and sitting in some hotel room ready to get some sleep than anything else. And then I got to the end – and now I’m oh-so-glad I stayed on for the whole ride! Good job!

          1. cosi van tutte

            Hi, UP!

            This is a continuation of my All In A Day’s Work prompt story, but Ambrose and Elsie have popped up in other prompts as well.

            I left the ending open because…well. The story was running very long at that point. 😀 But also because I’m not quite ready to kill Ambrose off and I’m pretty sure she was going to kill him. Maybe. I’m sure they will show up again in another prompt. So, stay tuned. 😀

  22. socialleper

    This popped into my head after I wrote my first response to the prompt. Some people have already beat me to the punch on taking “cat’s got your tongue” literally. Once something is in my head I can’t get rid of it until I write it out.

    Christy nudged Geoff to get him to turn off his alarm.
    That didn’t work, so she kicked him.
    Eyes closed and still swaddled in pre-dawn darkess, Geoff blindly beat the alarm clock into submission and then felt around on the nightstand for his smartphone. Unable to find it with his flailing digits, he threw off the sheet, sat up, and started feeling around on the wood floor of their bedroom.
    He felt the edge of his phone and then something wet. Geoff reflexively pulled back his hand, rubbing his fingers together. The smell of ammonia smacked him into wakefulness.
    “Wua da fuff,” he grumbled.
    Geoff paused. What did he just say?
    No longer able to ignore him, Christy turned over, “Wuas ur babum?”
    They both started shouting incoherent noises at each other, unable to form words due to their missing tongues. Panicked, Geoff turned on his table lamp and looked down at his phone. It was lying face down in what was obviously a puddle of urine. A two foot drop and quarter cup of liquid was all it took to break both of their phones.
    Incensed, Geoff shot out of bed promising unintelligible threats of violence against Christy’s cat, Noodles. When he turned on the light in the living room, he found his laptop doused in the water out of a knocked over flower vase. The phone cord to the landline phone was shredded.
    A pointless conversation consisting of gutturals and hand gestures between Geoff and Christy ensued until the TV suddenly turning on, interrupted them.
    At first there was nothing but static. Then a shot of a microphone on a table stand popped into focus. A black cat with golden eyes jumped on to the table and sat next to the microphone.
    “Humans of Earth, your reign as the dominant species on this planet has ended. After centuries of planning, our plans have come to fruition and all forms of communication between the members of your hairless, clawless, fangless kind have been severed. Any of you foolish enough to struggle against us will be dealt with by our enforcers. You will now receive your instructions from your domestic feline representative. Obey or suffer the consequences.”
    The black cat hopped down out of the camera shot, and after a few seconds, the TV turned off.
    Christy and Geoff turned to see Noodles sitting on the coffee table, his paw resting on remote control.
    “I’m feeling like poached salmon for breakfast,” the cat said. “After I’m done, we’re going to talk about my litter box. Or rather, I’m going to talk, and you are going to listen. After that, we are going to have a discussion about something that has been a great source of consternation for me. Specifically,” Noodles nails dug into the wooden top of the table, “what you did to my balls.”

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Loved it, especially the last sentence. Let’s hope Geoff doesn’t get the same treatment from Noodles that he received. I always had the thought in the back of my mind, cats were a lot smarter than I am.

  23. Kerry Charlton

    UUMPH!, UUMPH

    I sat at La Floridita bar in Havana. Ava Gardner perched on a bar stool to my left and my best friend in the world, Earnest Hemingway on my right. We had been drinking sugar free rum daiquiris and telling tall tales for hours when Ava slipped her hand to my thigh and leaned over to kiss me. Her eyes were luminous pools of desire and her rose lips quivered slightly as her face drew closer. I closed my eyes and………

    Meow! Meo…………w!
    She started to lick my face, not Ava but my eighteen pound calico, Miss Kitty.
    I closed my eyes and saw Ava fade away from my dream.

    “Damn it Miss Kitty, you know better.”

    She snuggled closer. Meow! Meow!

    “What do you want, cat?”

    “You of all people know, my breakfast.”

    I bolted out of bed and searched my room for the voice.

    “What are you looking for Dean.”

    I froze in stride. The calico had just talked to me. When I tried to speak to her,
    “ Uumph uumph” Lord, I couldn’t utter a word.

    I stumbled to my kitchen, opened a can of Friskies for Miss Kitty, threw my clothes on and bolted out the door. I practiced speaking in my car as I traveled through traffic, nothing but ‘uumph, uumph.’

    The First National Bank Of Miami’s sign greeted me as I entered the foyer, took the elevator to the ninth floor. ’uumph, uumph,’ nothing. Doris Dinglefoot my blonde receptionist with a 1950’s bullet bra chest, greeted me with a smile.

    “Good morning Mr. Davenport.”

    “uumph, uumph,” I answered.

    “Do you have a bad cold sir?”

    “Uumph!” .

    I disappeared into my office after shaking no at Doris. Twelve messages sat to be returned. Damn cat placed a spell on me. “Uumph-waaa” Well, at least that was a different sound. The rest of my morning floated in the toilet. Two vice presidents strolled in for a quick meeting and exited just as fast to “Waaa Uumph Waaa.”

    I practiced my best drunk stagger, walked up to Miss Dinglefoot leaning at fifteen degrees, put my hands on her shoulders and started to play walkie down her chest. .

    “For Pete sakes Mr. Davenport, not now.”

    “Uumph, Waaa, Wass, Umphawaaa.”

    I was back in the elevator and to my car like a rocket, only not fast enough, for Doris ran behind the bumper, screaming,

    “At least let me drive you home sir.”

    I stuck my head out the window,

    “Uumphuumphwaaauumph” and I pushed the petal to the metal and drove down the Dixie highway toward home. I pulled in my driveway after receiving a three hundred dollar ticket for driving while being mentally retarded. I roared through my garage barely stopping before plowing though the back wall, and burst through the door.

    Miss Kitty sat on the carpet looking like a fur lined bowling pin slightly portly in a pissed off attitude,

    “Are you ready to deal Dean?”

    She gave me the creeps talking to me.

    “Uumph wass cump ha!” I answered.

    :”Here’s the deal,” she purred. “I want my breakfast. promptly at five in the morning. Lunch at noon and dinner at five. Don’t forget my snacks, okay?”

    “Uumph”

    .. . Clean my litter box twice a day.”

    “Uumph.”

    Lastly, spend as much time with me as you do with Miss Dinglefoot. Deal?

    Uumph ………….Yes!”

    “Meow Meo………w.”

    “I know, lunch time, give me a minute

    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      Oh, Kerry, this is great. At first I thought we’d have Papa’s cats, but Miss Kitty is perfect. We are servants of one little calico. BTW, as a child I lived on Dixie Highway, further north.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you Reatha. Miss Kitty approved the rewrite before I posted it. She is a tough cat and want’s the web site to know about it. We lived in Coral Gables 2 blocks off the Dixie Highway, just north of the University Of Miami campus.

    2. cosi van tutte

      Hi, Kerry!

      Why is it I could totally imagine this as a Jim Carrey movie? 😀 (I don’t mean that in a bad way.)

      And just so you know, this line cracked me up -> “Two vice presidents strolled in for a quick meeting and exited just as fast to “Waaa Uumph Waaa.”

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you Amaria, Miss Kitty really is a loveable sweetheart in real life as long as we wait on her hand and foot. Where did I go wrong, a slave to a cat.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thanks Jay, I tried writing my MC into the most embarassing situations I could dream up. I wish I have spent some time with the cop pulling him over and giving him a ticket for being a looney. but I was way over my limit.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thanks Joseph, this was an easy write for me. I coluld have written 5000 easy, I loved the subject and of course, I had Miss Kitty by my side always giving me instructions and orders. When my wife stops, she takes over so I’m covered twenty four seven.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you Critique. Oh, you certainly have Miss Kitty ‘nailed. She is at the top of the demand chart! But what a beauty, she makes other cats look like chamber maids. Is she worth the trouble? Certainly, she’s my co-writer.

  24. ShamelessHack

    He tried to speak, but realized he couldn’t.
    She tried to as well, but she also was unable to make a sound.
    At first it seemed scary, unfamiliar to him.
    She was nervous, off balance.
    But after a few minutes he realized that he didn’t need a voice, at least not at this moment.
    And she also intuitively knew that for what was about to happen, silence would do just fine.
    He sat on the right side of the bed.
    She sat on the left side of the bed.
    Without a word he stood and removed his clothes.
    In silence she too, stripped.
    He lay down unclothed on the right side of the bed.
    She stretched out nude on the left side of the bed.
    Yes, he thought, silence is fine at this moment after all.
    She would have sighed had she a voice, but now words were unnecessary.
    Slowly and silently he rolled his body until he was facing to his left.
    Without a sound, she shifted her body so she could gaze to her right.
    He was in a Motel 6 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
    She was in a Holiday Inn Express near Pensacola, Florida.
    Then they both closed their eyes, turned over, and went to sleep.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      A tragedy of star-crossed lovers. This is very powerful and sad. I feel they have never met, never found that one so special and were all alone with their dreams of romance, one in Pensacola, the other in Milwaukee. But who knows what fate will bring these two?

    2. UnclePizza

      I agree – touching. Though in my interpretation they know each other and are apart temporarily. Maybe I read it that way because I travel so much for work and my wife and I have to sleep apart so frequently? Either way, I like it.

  25. UnclePizza

    I was having a really great dream when Paul woke me up, and of course I can’t remember it now. Something to do with a cat? Oh well, gone now. I wish I could remember dreams more often.

    Still, I’m glad Paul is reasonably quiet and peaceful in the morning. No blaring alarm, no rough shaking, just letting the motion of his own climbing out of bed wake me followed by a soft “Hey Eric, time to get up”.

    I give him a head start downstairs, then make my own way down and curl up on the couch to finish waking up while he makes coffee and gets breakfast going. We’ve been living together for five years now and have this morning routine pretty well worked out. Paul handles the kitchen and I lay on the couch. Works for me. I even like the blues station he tunes the radio to while he cooks.

    He gets chatty once he’s had his coffee though, and today is no exception. He sits next to me on the couch and starts talking about plans for the weekend. All I can do is just look at him and sigh. He chuckles and leans over, stroking my hair and kissing the top of my head. Even though I don’t talk in the morning it’s clear that we love each other.

    After breakfast we take care of getting ready to go to the office, though heaven help me if I can understand out why it takes him ten times longer than me. We walk together to the bus stop where he talks to that woman Susan who lives around the corner. I get the feeling that she’s a bit sweet on him, and part of me suspects that he might be falling for it. I’m going to have to keep an eye on her. For now, though, I just keep silent, even when she asks me how I’m doing this morning. I don’t care if it’s rude.

    The bus comes and before long were at our building. We walk half a block to the corner and only have to wait a few seconds for the light to change for us. We take the elevator up to our floor and Cindy, our receptionist, greets us with a “Good morning, fellas” that seems just a little too chipper to me. I think she might have a thing for Paul too.

    “Oh, Paul,” she says as we start down the hallway, “Do you have a sec to help me with something?”

    I sigh; here we go again. I’m just going to make my way back to Paul’s office and lay on my blanket by his desk. He can find his own way back using his white cane when he’s ready. Or Sally can walk him back herself like she has all week. Besides, I think she snuck a little treat back there again this morning – I can smell it from here. Mmm…a lamb meal doggie biscuit! Works for me.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      A great response Uncle. I started to suspect things when he was patted on his head. No truer love than a dog for his master. Especially a seeing eye dog. The bond is closer when a dog knows he is a protector as well. I wasn’t absolutely sure until the last paragraph. and even as I suspected it, the reveal was still powerful. Lots of emotion in this narrative.

      1. UnclePizza

        Thanks Kerry. I was hoping to keep the reveal a surprise. It’s always hard to tell since the author knows the “truth” all along. I even added another slight “veil” toward the end on the final version that I posted on my blog. (Plus cleaned up a typo or two that I hadn’t noticed and others were kind enough to overlook 🙂 )

    2. cosi van tutte

      Hi, UP!

      This story was so sweet and enjoyable. I love how Eric thinks that all the ladies have a thing for Paul.

      After I realized that Eric was a dog, I imagined him as a German Shepherd when I re-read it. 😀

  26. Pete

    I toyed around with the tense in this one, not sure it worked, but here goes:

    It takes four snooze-button smacks before I slide off my bed to face the world. My head hurts,
    throbbing for attention, but worse that that is the fat wad of gum in my mouth.

    Not gum, tongue. My nose whistles with rapid breaths. A hot, sizzling panic sets in as I can’t open my mouth. Not good. Not good at all. Flashes of last night.

    Drinks at Moby’s after work. A preemptive celebration. The whole team. Daylight outside. Happy hour. Then sunset and nightfall. The team begging off. Me and the cute new hire, Katherine.

    Katherine. With her maroon hair, jagged short on one side, worn long on the other. Two wholly different girls depending on what elbow was next to you. Sleeve tattoo on one side, smooth bare skin on the other.

    I stand up, woozy as I stumble to the bathroom where my muffled scream lends a soundtrack to the elephant man show in the mirror. My God, make it stop. I turn away, then try to wiggle around the plug in my mouth. What did we do?

    Scattered salt on the bar. Guys nudging each other, watching us. Watching the wild chick with her office boy. She explained her tattoos to me, caught me staring at her boobs and laughed. She called me cute, leaned in close when she spoke to me. Later we danced on a sticky floor. I tried to twirl her around. We ordered one last round.

    “You should get a tattoo.”

    Pain. I search my arms for damage. No tattoos but my cheeks are fat, hardened by infection. The cold water jolts my face. I try to swallow but nearly gag. Somewhere in the apartment my phone rings. I make the mistake of looking in the mirror again. Katherine.

    “A tattoo? I thought about it once,” I lied.

    She drained her glass, licked her lips with expert-level sexiness. Her glassy eyes sparkled under the bar lights. “Well, let’s go get one right now?”

    “Now? It’s like ten o’clock?” I said it before running it through the nerd-filter. The disappointment in her face killed me so I kept talking, “I mean, you know, with the big meeting tomorrow.”

    She was already up, so I handed the bartender my card and she smiled with gratitude.

    “Just come with me then,” she said, hipping my leg. “Please?”

    A four block walk. Nighttime felt different with a girl on my arm, after the drinks chased away my shyness. I thought about Raj and Gil, wondering what they would say about all of this.

    “What about a piercing?” she said, pinching my ear lobe. I squirmed. “Or…”

    She kissed me without another word, a movie scene moment out on the sidewalk with music and smells from the nearby cafe. Possibilities hatching in my head at the time I was normally shutting off my game console and brushing my teeth for bed. Kathrine leaned her head back then set her hands on my shoulders. “You could get your tongue pierced.”

    I would have agreed to a Heretics fork right then.

    The phone’s persistent. Texts and voicemails pile up. I get dressed, find my computer, then hit the door hoping that a little movement might help. The team had deemed me the most responsible so I have most of the beta software on my laptop, thus the presentation hinges on me showing up.

    On the bus people stare. I keep my head down and relive the night.

    “It may swell some.” Famous last words. That guy at the tattoo place was too busy eyeing Kathrine’s ass to plug me with his medieval tongue puller thing.

    I approach the door to the meeting room, hoping the lights are low.

    “Oh, here he is!”

    I nod, hustle over and start hooking up my computer. Jen hisses curse words in my ear. Same with Mike. Katherine won’t even look my way.

    We get things up and running. But the suits are giggling. Unbelievable. I’m about to run out of there, having cost my team a grant as Jen goes on about the data. “Like we said, the animal facial recognition is stored, to better distinguish individual…”

    A hand goes up. A beet faced guy, giggling. “I’m sorry, is he…I love the chimp impression.”

    The whole room erupts. Katherine hides her face while Jen saves the day. “Yes this here is Ben, from Central Africa, he’s our resident Chimp.”

    I nod and grunt and dance until I can tear out of the room and let Jen seal the deal. Later Katherine finds me in the break room.

    “Well, they’re on board.”

    “Reary?” I say, still unable to form real words. I hop up and hug her without thinking. She backs away, workplace policy and all. Or my face. She says she has to get back and starts to walk out, then turns with the short, spiky-hair side to me. “So, drinks at Moby’s tonight?”

    “Ooh ooh ooh eee eee aah aah!”

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Nothing to experiment with Pete, the whole story is on cue. It leaves me wondering what really happened in the tatoo parlor. A few more sessions at Moby’s ought to finish him off but hell, what a way to go, ape and all.

  27. Amyithist

    ***This was hurried. My apologies if it is not up to par. Thank you for reading.***

    The firm for which I worked was located in a minimalist-chic building with bold frosted windows and plain gold lettering etched across the glass. Stenson, Rybuck, and Goldwater. Aka Larry, Curly, and Moe.

    I hated coming around the corner and seeing it there; towering in the sunlight like some giant omen. I skittered across the pavement, careful to avoid the grim faced businessmen bustling to their own hells. Across the street, someone yelled a profanity at a pregnant woman who was clearly minutes away from giving birth there on the filthy sidewalk; which prompted another person to yell a profanity at him. Something about a shit-crusted weasel rose above the cityscape.

    I stood there for a moment, stepping off to the side so as not to gum up the traffic, and wondered how human beings could be so foul. “Someone needs to shut them all up,” I muttered.

    A man passing by noticed my face and gave me the middle finger. I gave him one right back but he didn’t care.

    The air felt noxious and poisoned at that moment; as though the hate had putrefied and was wafting from their gelatinous bags of worthlessness. They didn’t seem to notice the scent. Perhaps because it was not so different from the odor they were accustomed to or perhaps because they were too busy pushing and shoving their way to the front of the proverbial line.

    I dove back into the cesspool of gray tweed and black leather and closed the gap between myself and the building. I yanked the door open and as I stepped into the lobby, a conglomerated twist of relief and dread snaked its way through my entrails. It was only 7 am but Mitzy, the pudding pop receptionist, gleamed up at me with her four eyes and two chins. Gods, I hate this woman.

    She opened her mouth to speak, her waddle quivering at the effort. I waited for the shrill, “Good morning, Mr. Duthspeak,” but it never came. Instead, a sour blast of hot air being forced from her ample diaphragm fumed through the space, assaulting my very last nose hair. I recoiled and took out a cloth handkerchief from my breast pocket.

    “My word, Mitzy, what on earth?”

    She pointed to her throat. I couldn’t take my eyes off the waddle. Mesmerized, I nearly forgot the poor sow was even standing there. “What’s that my dear? You can’t speak?”

    She shook her again. Waddle…

    “Hmm. Quite enough, dear. It’s all part of the plan. Just sit down and watch the door. The others are soon to learn their fates. You may want to lock the doors.”

    Her fat little finger obediently pressed the button and the CLICK of the deadbolts sliding into place carried over the silent lobby. “Ah. Do you hear that?”

    She nodded slightly. Her eyes were wide and filled with unmistakable terror. Outside a scene I’d only dreamt about since arriving on earth began to play out. People began to realize their voices were gone; taken, actually. The gas has a tendency to be rather quick. I leaned against the front desk, admiring the sight. Panic. Unbridled animosity at the infuriating silence. Little ants trying desperately to figure out what the giants in the sky were up to.

    “In approximately twenty minutes, all telecommunications will be wiped out. And after that, the power will be taken out. And you all will be left communication-less and scared and do you know what’s going to happen?”

    Waddle.

    “Of course you don’t you pathetic little orb of pus.” I flicked a mint into my mouth and smiled as the fear etched over her oily face. “You and all of those like you are going to fight each other and kill yourselves off like the cancer you are. And then my people will eviscerate the poison you’ve left behind and restore the earth to what it was before we made the mistake of putting you down here.”

    Quivering, Jell-O-like waddle.

    She looked like a wet sponge sitting there; tears rolling down her gluttonous cheeks. Sweat oozing from those malodorous pores. I rolled my eyes at her and flicked my wrist. My talon whipped out and speared her right through her eye. Bingo. I strolled toward the elevator and hit the button for UP. Nothing.

    Drat. Looks like they shut the power down a little early. I started up the stairs, smiling at myself. The world was coming to an end out there. People would turn on one another like ravenous hordes of beasts. They’d tear one other to shreds. Governments would crumble. My people gave them a year. I thought they’d last a little longer than that; but who knew for sure? Whatever stragglers were left, we’d kill them off anyway.

    I went to my office where I had a delightful view of the goings on. Sure enough the panic had settled in. Wide eyes and fear-ravaged faces. Guns. Knives. Attempts at screams…only…what was that? Silence? Oh yes. Glorious and full and most delightful. Give it a year or two and this earth will be completely…silent.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      It starts out kind of scary and then desends into pure terror and horror. I thought for a minute you might be describing the Republician convention coming in July. But then I realized your horror wasn’t that bad. Oh well.

    2. ReathaThomasOakley

      Very powerful writing here. The description of your MC had me so angry, and I don’t easily anger. The scene on the street produced fear and disgust. All very well done.

    3. Critique

      The first part of the story I found funny – waddle – then it morphed into something horrific and the MC becme a truly horrible monster. This was entertaining on many levels.

  28. ReathaThomasOakley

    The Girl
    1960
    (Forgive this lengthy explanation, but, for anyone following this story, I’ve changed sleeping arrangements, mentioned in previous dialogue. Last week my husband and I visited Fort Christmas Historical Park, between Orlando and Titusville, and spent time touring a Florida cracker house, built in 1917, and talking with a staff person. That helped me visualize better The Girl’s house, and make the change. Sarah’s house, from the 1905 stories, was easier, it’s a replica of a historic house museum I managed, along with three other small museums, some years ago. I’d decided from the beginning to set the story in Central Florida, with characters based on relatives I’m honored to have.)

    Celia opened her eyes in another strange room and slowly remembered the day before. The sight of her grandmother’s house, she must remember to call her Granny, was a surprise. From what her mother had told her, four months ago, just days before she’d died, she expected something different. The wooden siding on this house was unpainted, but it had weathered to a silvery gray brown, a perfect backdrop for the masses of coleus, her mother’s favorite, azaleas, hawthorn, and bright pink bougainvillea, twisting along the porch railings and up the columns to the dormer window. That window now flooded the room with light.

    Rocking chairs, a work table, and neatly hung garden tools filled the porch. Tomatoes, marigolds, lettuce, squash, and beans grew in a garden to the right of the house. To the left, Celia saw at least a dozen citrus trees, growing among palm and oak trees, before the cleared ground turned back to pine and palmetto.

    During the night she’d roused long enough to be aware of rain on the tin roof and her cousin’s gentle breathing from the next bed. She’d never shared a room before, but both sounds were strangely comforting.

    Celia smiled at the memory of getting the two beds into the room the night before. Just after supper, an old pickup truck, driven by Gladys Tuggle’s “hired man”, more of a boy, she thought, arrived with a bed frame, springs, and mattress. He, Celia, and The Girl, had pushed and pulled those things, as well as her cousin’s bed from her mother’s room, up the narrow stairs with lots of laughter and yelled instructions from Granny in her rocker on the porch. After Aunt Myrtis cleaned up the kitchen, she came upstairs to help the girls make the beds.

    Celia looked at the open wardrobe against the wall, her clothes hanging next to her cousin’s. Her Snow White lunchbox, with the letters she’d written to herself, sat on a small white desk, next to a box The Girl had carefully carried up the stairs. Her other boxes and suitcases were stacked next to the window. She remembered that her toothbrush and toiletries were now on a shelf in the bathroom, her shelf, Granny’d said, waiting for her.

    Without warning, Celia realized she was crying, sobbing in a way she couldn’t at her mother’s funeral.

    “You alright?” Celia hadn’t heard The Girl come up the stairs. “I got you some coffee. Granny says yore old enough, I gotta drink mine mostly milk.”

    Celia tried to speak as she sat up, but no words came, only more tears. She could only shake her head and attempt a smile.

    “I know,” her cousin said, as went to the desk and opened her box. “Cat’s got yore tongue. Don’t you worry none—here, I got a clean handkerchief, yore nose is runnin’—don’t worry, you don’t gotta talk. Sometimes, when yore home with family, folks know what yore tryin’ to say when you ain’t said one word. Now, blow, breakfast’s ready and Granny don’t like to wait.”

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I felt alive and in the room observing the cousins. That’s how real this story is. You talk about pines and palmettos, you make me homesick for Florida. The setting for the movie, The Yearling was also set in central Florida. I think most of that era is gone now, due to better and improved and progress. It saddens me. I remember Ft. Pierce Florida when there were less than a thousand people who lived there. Full of pines and palmettos.

        1. ReathaThomasOakley

          Kerry, thanks for your comments, let me know when you will next be in the Sunshine State and I’ll make a list of places where you can glimpse “old” Florida, including Marjorie Rawlings house and Miconopy, Yearling territory.

      2. ReathaThomasOakley

        Thanks UP. I am trying to show the developing bond between the cousins. I think I have a huge flaw in my timeline that must be changed, but I’ve been told the most difficult part of writing is editing.

    1. cosi van tutte

      Hi, Reatha!

      I love the sense of peace and quiet in this story. And, just so you know, Granny shouting orders from her rocker on the porch made me smile.

    2. JosephFazzone

      I love the descriptions. I’ve been gardening with the kids all day, so I can see the imagery and relate very well. I can’t wait to see where this one goes. The relationship that’s you’ve established is really nice. I love the cat reference hidden there.

  29. jhowe

    Robert O’Dell skimmed the morning paper as his coffee cooled on the table. He heard the creak of the stairs and readied himself for the barrage. Martha was not a morning person, nor was she an afternoon person. Hell, she didn’t have a time of day that suited her. She appeared in the kitchen and knocked the paper from Robert’s hands. With hands on oversize hips she started her verbal assault.

    But no sound came out.

    Her lips moved frantically, like they always did; but just air movement was heard, and maybe a wet wagging of the tongue. Robert’s mouth fell open. Martha put her hands to her throat, a look of horror on her pinched face.

    “Well halle-fucking-lujah,” Robert said.

    Martha flapped her lips, keeping the hand to her throat. She went to the junk drawer and took out a pad and pen. She wrote, ‘call the doctor, asshole.’

    Robert stood and stared at her. She crossed out asshole. Robert handed her the phone. She slammed it down on the table and pointed at Robert, and then at the phone. Robert shrugged.

    “No comprende,” he said.

    ‘Please call the doctor,’ she wrote.

    “Fine.” He dialed, left a message. “They never answer the phone,” he said. “They’ll call back.” He sat and sipped his coffee. “Make me some eggs, will you hon?”

    Martha raised her hand, poised to slap, and lowered it. She went to the stove and made breakfast for the first time in years. At short time later the phone rang. Robert sat, his head buried in the paper. A note was slid to him, a gentle squeeze on the shoulder. ‘Can you get that please,’ she’d written.

    “Hello. Yes, I’ll hold. Can you believe it; they called me to put me on hold.” Martha stood, wringing her hands.

    “Yes. My wife can’t speak. No, not a word.” He paused. “No, it appears to be physical. Hold on.” He held the phone to his chest. “Dear, you’re not having a breakdown or anything, are you?” She shook her head. “No, she just quit talking. Oh no, she’s trying like hell but nothing comes out.”

    She wrote, ‘Tell them I need to be seen right away.’ He held up a finger.

    “Two weeks?” An audible expulsion of air. “That’s unacceptable.” A pleading of the eyes. “Next week Wednesday?” A shake of her head. “Fine, next Tuesday at 2:00.” He hung up the phone.

    “I did the best I could.” A tapping of the foot. “It’s happening all over.” A raise of the eyebrows. “It appears to be an epidemic.” A splay of hands to her side. “Don’t ask me,” he said.

    Later, on the television, the news story explained it all. Henpecked husbands were dancing in the streets. Nagging wives were receiving their comeuppance. Some thought it was a form of the rapture, a mild version anyway. Others thought it was traumatic stress syndrome in reverse.

    “I’m so sorry this is happening to you,” he said. She nodded slightly. “Sit tight for a while. I’m going to go out and console some of my buddies. They must be as devastated as I am.”

    She nodded again, a tear in her eye.

    “Don’t take it so hard, hon.” He put on his jacket. “Why don’t you take a hot bath and put on that blue negligee I got you a few years ago.” She smiled. “You might want to wash it though. Those K-Mart things are always a little scratchy when they’re new.”

    She nodded and kissed his cheek. He shook his head. “Hell, they’ll be ok.” He took off his jacket. “Let’s go run that bath.”

    1. Amyithist

      A man’s dream come true. LOL
      This was very funny. It seems that on top of not being able to speak the wives also suffer from a case of docility? LOL

    2. Pete

      This was a riot. I’ll need to go back and read again but I laughed all the way through, “crossed out asshole”, little things like that make these things. Thanks for the laugh!

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I think you might be in trouble after writing this. I’m not sure but I think so. Better hide it John. A classic for all mankind. It was a total riot but done so perfectly, it felt like a bowl of butterscotch pudding, hot from the stove, with a little whipped cream put on top. Yo!

  30. Observer Tim

    CAT GOT MY TONGUE

    I walk into the office of the president of Animatech, creators of the newest biotech wonders, ready for my interview. The company came out of nowhere with genetic creations so advanced nobody else can come close. My job is to prepare an article for Tech News on how they did it, not to mention the ethical questions. This will put the name Natasha Chambers on the map for technology reporting.

    The creature at the reception desk is a gatamorph, halfway between a human and a cat. She’s shaped like a human woman with feline ears and facial features; her entire body is covered in sleek black fur. Good thing for her she has fur, considering her entire clothing ensemble consists of a diamond-studded collar.

    “Good morrning. Are you heah to see Missterr Davisson?”

    “– !”

    My voice fails in an instant and I start gasping for air. My throat is closing and my eyes are watering. My chest is on fire and being crushed at the same time. Why didn’t I tell them I’m allergic to cats? If she’s half-human, why am I reacting so badly? Even playing with kittens doesn’t hit me this hard or this fast!

    I don’t know how I end up on the floor but there I am. She’s sitting on me and taking a fat mutant epi-pen out of my chest. A tiny drop of clear liquid dangles precariously from the end of the needle.

    “Brreeathe…” She purrs it as much as saying it.

    The histamine reaction fades quickly; more quickly than it ever has before. And it has never gotten better while I was still in the presence of the cat.

    She sets the pen down out of sight and then starts massaging my chest. Her raspy tongue is licking my upper neck and chin while she presses into me and purrs. The whole effect is a little overwhelming, like something they’d play on Showcase or HBO.

    “I’m… I’m okay now.”

    She stops kneading but keeps her purring body on top of mine and continues to lick.

    “You can stop now.”

    “Pet me.”

    I tentatively run my hand down her back, then start petting her. There’s no tingling on my hands like usual, no sign of the rash or swelling.

    “What did you do to me? I’m not reacting.”

    She snuggles in closer.

    “Yess you arre.”

    “I mean the allergic reaction.”

    “Oh, that. It’ss frrom my home. It lasstss two weekss.”

    “Your home? But I thought the company created you!”

    “Nope. I come from the future. The company rreverrsse engineerred uss.”

    “They did? This is… wait! From the future?”

    “Uh huh.”

    “Screw Davison; can I interview you instead?”

    Sure nobody will believe a word of it, but I can always sell the story to the tabloids. I want to go back home with her!

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I hope to hell, Miss Kitty doesn’t read this . I’m already in trouble. Fantastic read of course as usual. Do you dream about cats also, Tim?

  31. socialleper

    The end came so fast. No one ever thought it would start with something like this. They thought it would be nuclear war, an asteroid, a viral pandemic, or global environmental catastrophe. Hell, Godzilla seemed like a more plausible way for everything to end.
    However, it wasn’t any of these things. It wasn’t something acting on us. It WAS us.
    Because of how quickly everything escalated, no one had the time to try to figure out exactly how it started. All that we know is that one morning, as the sun slowly crept its way across the Earth, silence followed in its golden wake. We could still hear. We could still make sounds. We just couldn’t talk.
    You would think this would be a greater disruption than it was, but we adapted almost instantly. Maybe, that was the problem.
    The TV news just took the anchors off the air and put up more ticker graphics. They filled the small center of the screen with car chases, cat videos, and people hurting themselves with sporting equipment. The leaders of nations walked up to podiums, shrugged, occasionally made rude gestures, and walked away.
    With their voices gone, people took to digital communication; social media, twitter, email, and instant messengers. All communication between people, some standing right next to each other, was now filtered through the digital disconnect. Imagine the entire world trying to communicate through a comments section.
    Yeah. We didn’t stand a fucking chance.

    1. Observer Tim

      I don’t know, you seem to have done a good job with it, SocialLeper. 🙂

      This is a lovely little future historical op-ed piece. Maybe humanity is doomed in the long run, but what will happen when hearing loss is not nearly so much of a disability? You’ve got my brain running overtime on this one, SocialLeper. Also, there are still microphones and synthetic speech; my impression is that we’d adapt in so many ways.

          1. socialleper

            I’m not a technophobe or anything. Actually my “real job” is all IT related.
            As guy that has used computers since an Apple IIc when I was 9, I see their potential. The internet could have been a digital library of Alexandria. Where is the enlightened, mature, serious future we thought we were going to create?
            Go to the comments section of CNN, Rollingstone, or nearly any site where people can dump there brains out. Without the filter of face to face communication, where you can see the hurt your words create, we say the most terrible things. We think we are screaming into a void when we may in fact be verbally assaulting the person right next to us, and never know it.
            So I imagined what would happen if people communicated only through that digital disconnect. We’d be at each other’s throats within hours.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I could feel the Twilight Zone, creep into your writing. It was an extremely powerful read. Think before you talk wouldn’t be necessary anymore. Although there is one person who does it on a daily basis only non-think that seems to be extremely popular. Maybe it’ll spread and be an asset. We’ll see in November.

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