Enter the Void

At first it’s like any other day. You wake up, shower, start to brew your morning cup of coffee, and that’s when you notice—outside the window, there’s nothing there. Just an endless black void. What happened? Where are you? How do you get back to reality?

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

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412 thoughts on “Enter the Void

  1. WhoLockian

    This is the another version which has been edited. So far it’s my final, so enjoy:

    I abruptly jolt up from my bed, screaming, my heart pounding. Thank goodness; it was just a nightmare. I breathe a loud sigh of relief, and suddenly realise that I had been sweating during the night. I sluggishly kick the covers off my legs and check the time: 8 o’clock. That’s not too bad, I thought, since I had assumed that it was 5 o’clock; around the time I usually wake up from a nightmare. I place my feet on the cool floor, and make my way to my bathroom to have a cold shower.
    Ten minutes pass and I turn off the water. I get dressed in my pyjamas again, thankful that I had nowhere to be. Then I realise. I had to get the mail. Grumbling, I wrapped myself in my gown and dragged my feet towards the door. I curled my fingers over the strangely cold metal doorknob, and opened it.
    Black.
    An endless pitch-black void greeted me. I slammed the door shut, my eyes wide. I slapped myself, hoping I would wake up, walked over the window and shakily opened it.
    Black.
    I shut the window. It wasn’t a dream. I glided over to my phone on the couch, and quickly dialled my mother’s number. “Come on, come on, pick up,” I said as the phone rang. After a few moments, a monotonous noise came from the phone, so I hung up. “Damn!” I cursed.
    I returned to the door and opened it, completely bewildered, then hesitantly held my hand outside. No wind, no warmth came from the void. It was like a dark blanket of nothingness had cloaked the earth. I dropped my arm, and held my foot out as if I was going to step outside. There seemed to be no end to the ground, and I was afraid to look out and see that I was floating in the blackness.
    I gently closed my door, and made my way to the kitchen. Just make your tea and sit down at the television, I told myself, hoping that continuing my normal morning routine would make me forget what was outside. I switched the kettle on as calmly as I could (calmly being a lie), and listened to it whistle as I walked to the lounge room and sat on my couch, taking deep breaths in the process. I picked up the remote and turned on the television. Static. A terrible scratching noise came from my speakers.
    Suddenly, the lights began flicking. I tensed, and froze. They flickered again. My heart thumped in my chest. My breath was unsteady and quick. They continued to spark until they were completely off. The kettle silenced. The air-conditioning stopped. The television switched off. The house was as black and as noiseless as outside.
    Then all hell broke loose.
    The house began to violently shake. I felt like Dorothy trapped inside her house, flying haphazardly around the eye of a tornado. Plates shattered, furniture groaned as it scraped along the floorboards. I stumbled around the house, vainly trying to control my movements, but to no avail.
    Then, the noises stopped. Everything was still. Suddenly, my house vanished from beneath me, and I was floating in the sinister blackness.
    I held my breath nervously, waiting for something to happen as everything was out of my control. Suddenly, I stopped floating, and, unable to move my limbs, I helplessly descended into the unknown.
    Down.
    Down.
    Ear-splitting demonic laughter echoed around me. The darkness slowly swallowed me up. I screamed, but no one came to my rescue. My desperate cries began to echo and dissipate into the nothingness, and unconsciousness mercilessly overwhelmed me.

  2. emilyelizabeth

    Last night was rough.

    I shouldn’t have taken so many drinks. That’s one of my flaws; I know what my problems are and choose to ignore them. Christ.

    Hangover routine. Go.
    Hot shower. Check.
    Big ol’ coffee. Check.
    Special spanks under mom jeans. Check.

    I felt for each step as I descended, tying my hair into the messiest bun man has ever known. I looped about my apartment, inefficiently gathering my items for the day. I was already late to Theresa’s, but she’d be chill. It was the dog sitting I had to worry about. Linda may be 86, but her mouth is 26. Plus, I’d already been chewed out by her once before this week. I was assuming she went by two strikes, not three.

    I slipped a purse over my shoulder, pulled on my sneakers, and headed for the door. Recovery came quicker than I thought today. I reached for the doorknob, a little shock going from my hand to the metal. I shook it off, grabbed the knob again and twisted.

    Black.

    Wait, what.

    I blink my eyes, looking again into the vast noir facing me.

    Slowly, I close the door, turning my back to it. Looking to the window, I see it has blackened now too.

    What is going on?

    I step out to investigate, but a low rumble startles me. It comes from all sides. The windows begin to tremor. The chat-skis lining my shelves shake and dance, falling to the floor. It gets louder. Like a freakin’ Skrillex concert or something. Christ.

    I cover my ears, but it does nothing. Then it hits the fan.

    The window cracks, and this darkness starts dripping in. Like molasses. It coats my wall. Of course I stay away from it, but that’s when the window fully breaks. It sprays into my home like I’ve been submerged completely. I am Kate Winslet or just seriously hammered?

    It doesn’t stop. When it touches me, it burns for a bit, then I don’t feel anything. My feet were the first to go. I couldn’t find anything to climb on. So I stood still. If I opened the door, more would come in. No options.

    At some point the door broke. I was so focused on my aching limbs that I didn’t notice it. Funny thing is, the whole time this went on, I kept singing in my head;

    the knee bone’s connected to the hip bone
    the hip bone’s connected to the back bone
    the back bone’s connected to the rib bones
    the rib bones’ connected to the neck bones
    the neck bone’s connected to the skull bone

    now hear the word of the lord

    1. emilyelizabeth

      Please pick apart my smut in any way possible- I was exhausted when I wrote this but I couldn’t get the writing itch off. Any and all comments appreciated.

  3. Ed Holiday

    At the screech of my cellphone’s alarm my eyes opened, the darkness faded to another day. I went along through my regular routine. A routine so regular it barely deserves to be mentioned. I ate breakfast, showered, shaved, and, changed out of my grungy pajamas into my dull work uniform. It wasn’t until I laced my shoes that had I noticed that today wasn’t average and my routine would be the last thing normal about it. Through my small bedroom window I saw nothing. What I mean by that is precisely that the basic definition of the word. Not anything; no single thing. No sunlight. No streets. No parking officer writing me another ticket. All was black. An absolute void.
    I had no idea what to think about this but I hoped at least I wasn’t alone. I went to my roommate’s door and knocked. After a few minutes of silence the door flung open. Henrietta wasn’t happy at all about the disturbance. She worked the graveyard shift which meant waking her from her beauty rest was an act of war. Her eyes remained closed as she stood equally as still wearing only a the gray tank-top and underwear she slept in.
    “What is it?” She asked finally. Her words came out slowly, in-between pauses.
    “I can’t really say what it is but trust me, it’s an emergency.” I said.
    “Is that suppose to mean something?”
    “Trust me, it’s an emergency. I’ll show you.”
    “Fine.”
    The was shut harshly as she had opened it. It took her a few minutes before she reappeared wearing a robe. We walked to the room with largest window, the living room, which were covered by the blinds as they usually were during the morning. I tugged on the cord and the binds zipped up to reveal the same sight of nothing that I had seen from my bedroom. From this view it vastness of the black was more obvious. It encompassed our entire surroundings but this one apartment building.
    Henrietta’s eyes were completely open at last. She pivoted away from the window and towards the cramped kitchen. There was a pack of cigarettes left on the table, she grabbed one and a lighter nearby then lit it.
    After a one long drag she said, “I guess we’re fucked.”
    I couldn’t disagree with her entirely. However I thought that if we were still here in this building than there’s a chance so were the other tenants. I had no idea what to think about the situation but I wasn’t going to cope with it alone.
    “I’m going to see if there’s anyone else in the building. What are you going to do?” I said. “I’m not doing anything until I have a cup of coffee. We may be dead, in another dimension, or, who-knows-what, but at least I need that.”
    There was no reason to argue against this. The situation wasn’t certainly going to change soon.
    “Alright, I’ll see if anyone else is here then come back.”
    She simply nodded.

  4. Mowa

    The day started normally for Henry Benedict. He took as shower, brushed his off white teeth with a pea sized amount of super whitening toothpaste with 25% more whitening crystals. He shaved off his mustache, because he overheard that it made him look like a child rapist. that offended him the most, the idea that he would be a CHILD rapist. What could a child do for him? They were weak! He much preferred the savory taste of sweat and struggle form his victims. But, whatever. He would follow his shave with a mediocre breakfast fortified with fiber and vitamins C,E,A and D. He would spend a few minutes after breakfast loathing the fact that his mother gave him two fucking first names as a name. He put on his dark shades given to him by his optometrist and his red-tipped walking cane. He forgot his hearing aid. I’m not sure why. He didn’t have anything in particular important on his mind. But, he also didn’t hear the attack from extra-terrestrials that made the entire earth dissipate, save the little clog of dirt on which he resided. He opened his door and didn’t noticed the significance of the darkness around him as he walked out into a void. Falling and walking for eternity.

  5. Christian

    Excerpt from my short story: The Redeemers Nightfall

    Have you ever wondered what it would be like to fall endlessly into a vast abyss? Yeah, neither had I. But if someone were to now pose that question to me I could answer them aptly. Terrifying, unsettling, dizzying, are you starting to get the picture now? Fortunately I had skipped breakfast, otherwise I may have experienced the incredibly unpleasant feeling of hurling all over myself while falling. Boy if anything could ever be more fun than falling it would have to be falling and also becoming quite sick in that process. It was as if the universe was rushing by me, cold air encircling me and tossing me to and fro in some sort of free fall known only to perhaps poor old Alice of Wonderland. I wished I could say it was beautiful, unfortunately there was no farther truth. My very soul had shrivelled up inside me and any human hope that I clinged to was now off and about, leaving me completely alone in an unfamiliar wasteland. While suddenly, as I felt all hope was lost and that I may actually fall forever, I hit the ground as abruptly as I had stepped off of it.
    Thankfully, the very laws of nature did not appear to rule this land and I thanked whatever looked over such a place as this that I had not become a big pile of broken flesh and splattered innards. What a joy I thought to myself and what a ride. Now that I had begun to assimilate to a surrounding that was maybe a little more familiar to me, I could actually appreciate how much fun that really could have been. If only I had been less concerned. At the very thought my stomach suddenly caught up to me after such a fall and proceeded to empty itself of anything that had been within. Including what I assumed was half a dinner roll and of course an entire cup of coffee. What a lovely color it was. Oh well, I guessed that this was just the cost of admission and beginning to recover took the chance to start examining my surroundings.
    Why, this place wasn’t so unfamiliar at all. In all of my falling I had somehow found myself launched into the local park where I would bring my son every Saturday. I pinched myself. These two realities had collided. One being “wonderland” and the other my very own real life. It was times like this that made me question the big picture. Who am I, or better yet where?

  6. Indianboyle

    It started just like any normal day. I began to pour my cereal and then it just hit me. Somethings not right about the environment. I shrug off the feeling and continue to gloat over my Styrofoam like marshmallows and charms. I hypnotically crane spoonfuls of cereal into my mouth and begin to read the daily paper. “Damned my astigmatic eyes”, I thought, the symbols seem to float around and shift over the page as I read them. I decide I mise well begin to leave for work and as I walk out the door the most terrible sight hit me like a steamroller. Slow but adamant. Now you’d expect the same reaction from a horror movie scene or a roller coaster ride but sometimes the most frightening things in life come one baby step at a time. I go back inside and check my alarm clock, yep it’s synced with standard internet time. Why would it be midnight then? I go back outside and slowly begin to wonder why there are no streetlights outside. Something strange definitely is happening today. After what seems like 10 minutes of pondering the problem I snap out of my lackluster and realize my entire house is surrounded by… surrounded by… nothing? Panic grips my heart as I run inside to avoid being sucked in. I run to my bedroom and notice someone’s sleeping in my bed. Gripped with even more panic I quickly decide to head to the kitchen instead of wake the intruder. As I grab for a pan I feel my legs slow down and awkwardly fumble. He must have poisoned me I begin to think. Slowly sinking to the ground I begin to calm down and lose focus. When I come to I find that it’s still dark outside and I still haven’t figured out what’s going on. I throw a football out the door and see that it quickly deflates and jettisons out towards a vanishing point. I seem to be lost in some sort of a space.
    It’s been 27 days and I’ve had enough of this. Bracing myself for the final jump my life flashes before my eyes. Forgive me God for what I must do. Then with full surrender I take the plunge. Panic grips my heart and I begin to feel the sense of drowning. Water gushes into my lungs. I jerk awake and find my CPAP machine mask wrapped awkwardly around my neck. Thank God it was just a dream, I sigh.

  7. socialleper

    Christy walked with the shuffling steps of a zombie, or the freshly awakened, towards the kitchen, drawn by the smell of freshly brewed coffee. Her husband Geoff was standing at the kitchen sink, mug cupped in his hands, starring out the window.
    “Morning,” she said.
    ‘Hmm,” Geoff replied noncommittally.
    She rubbed her eye, “Did the neighbors block you in again?”
    “….no….”
    His answer had the upward lilting of a punctuation not yet invented, but that clearly stated ‘WTF.’
    Curious, Christy joined her husband at the window and looked out.
    No; the neighbors ridiculously large pickup wasn’t blocking in Geoff’s car again. No; the sprinklers hadn’t been on all night. No; the old man down the street wasn’t letting his Great Dane drop a massive duce on their lawn again, that he would then not clean up.
    There was none of that.
    There was none of anything.
    There was only a shapeless void swirling like an inky fog. The oppressive darkness bent all reason as its featureless nothing seemed to stretch on despite there being no way to judge distance.
    Christie clung to her husband’s arm and he rested his head on top of hers.
    “You know what this means?” he asked.
    “No.”
    “We don’t have to go to work today.”
    The implication of his words worked their way through her tired mind like syrup across a plate of pancakes. The smile on her face spread as the realization energized her in a way that a double espresso could only dream of.
    “Yes!” she exclaimed, digging for the smart phone in her robe pocket.
    Geoff saw the joy on his wife’s face change lanes from confusion and then terror on the highway of emotion without using its blinker.
    She staggered away, “There’s no bars! I have no signal at all!”
    Geoff snatched his own phone off the kitchen counter. His eyes darted across it’s interface, looking desperately for any sign of cellular service. The mug slipped out of his hands and shattered in the sink.
    “NO!”

    1. cosi van tutte

      Hi, social!

      This whole part amused me way too much: “She staggered away, “There’s no bars! I have no signal at all!”
      Geoff snatched his own phone off the kitchen counter. His eyes darted across it’s interface, looking desperately for any sign of cellular service. The mug slipped out of his hands and shattered in the sink.
      “NO!” 😀

  8. ReathaThomasOakley

    The Actor

    He stands, trembling, running
    lines, waiting for his cue, behind
    curtains soft with dust, dark with age,
    in a silence alive with memory
    of players on the empty stage,
    until he steps unaided, unafraid
    into the scene, into the role
    he was born to play, into the joy
    of applause, into the final void.

    (Beebles inspired.)

    1. Beebles

      Aha, that’s exquisite Reatha. It runs so perfectly through the gamut of Thespian emotion and motivation and it flows beautifully. I am truly honoured by the association and thanks for the wonderful comment below. It had struck me, as i was rereading mine, how theatrical training – Barabara’s in particular – can be an aid to coping with fear.

  9. Beebles

    Just sneak this one in. Its a bit … well you’ll see.
    ————————–

    ‘What on earth is that?’

    ‘It’s my evening attire, Darling. What do you think?’

    ‘So your evening attire consists of your Quant cocktail frock, overlain with a couple of woolly jumpers, a fox fur stole, a Moscow Mule, and a fag?’

    ‘Tab, Darling, I hate the f word.’ She took a long pull. ‘I’m retired, for God’s sake. We agreed, when we retired we’d give up giving up and pickle our final years away. Besides, at least I’m making an effort; you’re still in your pjs.’

    ‘Well it is 9 am, my sweet.’

    ‘Well it feels like evening with that … thing out there.’ She lowered herself into the Windsor chair. Tom went to fill the kettle.

    ‘Tried that. Water’s off, Darling,’ Barbara said between sip and drag.

    Tom replaced the kettle on the aga and returned to the sink to look out the window. The Void, as they had taken to calling the creeping black wall of nothingness, had reached the rose beds. Tom didn’t mind. Neither of them could bend down far enough to do any weeding any more. He did dead head them occasionally. Good riddance. The garden was too large anyhow. Now it was like looking out into a hushed auditorium when the curtain came up. It gave it an almost comforting air of expectation.

    He shifted his focus to Barabara’s reflection, a neon yellow etching in the dark pane. Good old Barabara, she had put on a show her whole life. Only he knew the real Barbara McCracken, the woman behind the stage presence. And here she was putting in another performance. He wondered about trying the tap himself, but she was probably right. She was always right.

    There was a loud dull slam from behind him. He turned to see Barbara’s tab hand resting on a three quarter full bottle of vodka.

    ‘Come on, Old Man. You’re letting the side down. Pour yourself one and then roll me another tab.’
    He shuffled over to the table and took up the bottle, cradling it in one shaking hand. ‘Do you remember that vodka we had at Larry’s wake?’

    She croaked a laugh. ‘Good God, yes. The waiter was like Peter O’Toole: Arabia O’Toole, not Venus O’Toole.’

    ‘He could have been your grandson.’

    ‘And I could have had him. I still looked damn good, even then.’

    Tom nodded. Yes she had. And she still did, beneath the veined skin and wild, thinning grey hair, dye clinging to the ends. She had turned heads at sixty. He handed her a drink.

    ‘Larry was such a fine actor. Do you remember his Banquo at the RSC?’

    ‘Mmm. Fran was in that as well, you know. ‘Course, she went not long after Larry.’

    They sat.

    ‘I’m sorry,’ he said suddenly, slipping his hand into hers as she reached for the ashtray.

    She used a single finger to stroke his hand. ‘No I’m sorry, Darling. I shouldn’t have mentioned her. I forgave you, forever ago. You said sorry back then. Why bring it up again now.’

    He shrugged and pointed with his vodka at the darkening window.

    She squeezed his hand and took a long drink. ‘I wouldn’t be here with anyone else, Tom, Darling. You know that. You silly man.’

    She squeezed a little harder as she saw the potted plants on the window sill begin to disappear.

    ‘Now where’s that tab? I reckon we can fit another couple in, don’t you, Darling?’

    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      This is stunning. I can see, and even smell the room and these wonderful people. Truly one of the best, ever, entire lives in just a few words.

    2. Observer Tim

      I sense a metaphorical tale of the end of the lives of two formerly famous people as the stage lights are slowly being turned off. The overall effect is calm and serene, like the approaching end should be. Also, you created an interesting dynamic between the characters. Overall, this is a gentle and beautiful piece. Great job, Beebles! 🙂

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Fantastic Beebles, what popped in my head was Sir Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon in their last days reinacting their movie, Wuthering Heights. And on second thought. Stewart Grainger and Jean Simmons who were married, reworking their movie together ‘Young Bess’. Wow, a piece loaded with thought and charm along with sadness of the inevitable ending.

  10. JosephFazzone

    She walks in the night.

    She always walked at night. The sun had burned her flesh when she was a child. She cried for days, and remembered the sleepless nights of agony. It scarred her from ever being out in the sun. She always covered up when going out, but primarily stayed indoors when the sun was out.

    You have skin cancer. The doctor’s pronouncement proclaimed the irony for all her precautions. He had pointed to a small mole at the base of her neck half an inch from her clavicle. Her mom had called it a kiss from the sun. She always hated it.

    It was a kiss of death. Apparently it was a morbid and morose tale of the paranoid homely girl who would now end up dying from the one time the sun scorched her brow, and nibbled ever so gently at her neck.

    She walks in the night now. She kicks a small pebble away with her white sandal. She watches it skip down the road into the great void, the endless void that she walks. Her garments are white, tonight, a gossamer silk, waving freely in the breeze. It’s time to be seen.

    The cost of the treatments, the expense of the toxic process with the slimmest of margins for success, and the burden she would lay upon her family shattered her heart, and the weight of her burden broke her back. With shaky hands, she remembers the day she took off in her broken and battered beat up little Volkswagen beetle and headed down the highway to see the Joshua trees. Based on a rumor of ancient ones, based on an enormous amount of cocaine, and faith did she go forth to seek her salvation? A shot in the dark, a way to cure her holistically, and spare her family the burden of even knowing let alone all they would have to do.

    Headlights are up ahead. The speed must be about what she remembered she was going, at least ten miles past reckless. She smiles sadly when they reach her. With a sigh, she watches it swerve off to the side, crashing down into a small embankment. Her hunger stirs.

    She had taken the easy way out, and these poor souls will pay for it. She smells coffee and Jameson as she approaches the two men moaning weakly in the wrecked and mangled black Mercedes, their last meal.

    She walks in the night. Bloody gown and a small tear down her right cheek. She absently rubs the small scar over her kiss from the sun. The sun will be up soon. She must go down soon, and she won’t come out until the sun goes down, until the hunger returns.

    1. Beebles

      Oooh Joe. That showed a different side to your talents. Savagely beautiful are the words that come to mind. With the music that happens to be playing in the background I just got lost in that. Super.

    2. Observer Tim

      This is a lovely and atmospheric depiction, Joey. I get a strong sense of a spirit of death (or undeath) who either preys upon those who die, or helps people achieve death. The whole effect if beautiful and tragic. 🙂

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Joseph, you touched my heart with this. From my personal experience with my daughter, it brings back the pain, I thought was buried too far. But then it brought back the love we shared as father and daughter. If only more people realized the danger, it would ease my mind some. I thank you for this story, the pain is worth the rememberance and always will be until I WALK WITH HER AGAIN.

  11. Lucretia_BezBawni_Amstell

    Courtesy of the brilliant and talented jhowe, the first paragraph of whose post served as a prompt to mine. Prompt in a prompt, how ‘bout that, people?)
    __________________________________________________________________________________________

    I’d never stepped into a void before, or maybe I had, I didn’t know. The voice had said to do just that, though.

    ‘Step into the void.’

    Over and over, flooding my being, overlapping my senses. I could actually see the words, taste them, feel them.

    ‘Step into the void.’

    The door to the basement darkened; or maybe it was just my vision. I did feel a little dizzy, and angry. This wasn’t an entrance to hell, just the familiar old door with the white paint flaking off at some places. I’ve walked past it a thousand times.

    ‘Step into the void.’

    I clasped my temples, as if I could squeeze the voice out of my head. The tools were down there, I had to get them. Normal people would put a light switch at the door, but people like my dad thought it a good idea to attach it to the actual freaking lamp, so one would have to go all the way downstairs and then grope for a pull switch.

    My palms were no drier from my constant wiping them on my shirt, and my arched with fear eyebrows served as a poor barrier for the sweat. It trickled down my face, stinging my eyes.

    ‘Step into the void,’ I whispered and put my hand on the handle.

    ‘Jason!’ That was my dad storming into the hall and striding towards me. I jumped away from the door, my hands shaking. He looked around. ‘Have you got the tools or not?’

    ‘I was j-just about–‘

    ‘For Christ’s sake, Jason, how old are you?’

    He shoved me aside, swung the door open and jogged down the basement stairs, shouting, ‘If you’re so scared, take the damn flashlight and you brother’s diaper.’

    I wiped my forehead on my sleeve. Maybe next month, when I turn 10, I could do it. A tiny spot of light flickered down in the basement. I stretched out my hand towards it and pulled it back.

    ‘Sissy,’ said a high-pitched annoying voice. I turned around to find my baby brother on a tricycle. My dad’s biker friends looked less cool on their Harleys.

    ‘Let’s see what you say when I take your night light away,’ I said.

    His lips quivered a little, but in a second he was cool again. ‘Can I trade a diaper for my night light?’

    ‘Buzz off!’ I walked out of the hall and heard him follow.

    ‘I can give you a whole pack,’ he yelled behind me. ‘Two?’

    ‘Leave me alone!’

    How could the body of a 3-year-old bed-wetting kid house so much sarcasm? And how could his almost-10-year-old brother be still scared of the dark?

    ‘Next month,’ I said to myself. ‘Next month I will do it.’

    1. Observer Tim

      Very nice, Bez. It’s a great little slice of the life of a 9-year-old. I have a little trouble empathizing with the boy because I have (literally) never been afraid of the dark; for me the blackness is welcoming and the only trepidation relates to tripping over stuff. That said, the fear is palpable in this writing; his father’s mocking is something I’d have to work very hard to forgive. Nice job making me think. 🙂

    2. jhowe

      Thank you for the kind words and a really cool story. I was hoping , though, that something was going to happen to the blowhard father when he was in the basement. Nothing serious, just a little jolt or something to teach him a lesson. I like how you took that first paragraph and broke it into segments. It reads much better your way.

    3. apennell21

      What a great twist. I can totally empathize as I was terrified of our basement as a child. I, too, had a pesky little brother that loved giving me a hard time.

      Would have loved to see something happen to the dad! Or an apology from him maybe.

  12. Reaper

    Thursday

    These days, they all blend together. Just another day, I think it was Thursday. Shit, shower, and shave, just like I did on Wednesday. Like most adults, I had mornings down to a science. As the towel carried the last drops of moisture to the floor, the coffee pot finished its magical mission. Delivering the nectar of the benevolent gods into a transparent casing, prepared for my digestion.

    The rationing was the worst. Two cups of coffee a day is not nearly enough for a writer. There was plenty of whiskey at least, but still… not enough coffee. On top of that, when I looked in the fridge I realized if I wanted pleasure to last the week, I had to choose. Sugar or cream, but definitely not both.

    I decided I could drink it black on Saturday, so I opted for both anyway.

    I stood at the window, thinking about how I needed to get back to the real world. I needed to get back to it soon, but mornings are special. I sipped from my cup of decadently rich coffee and stared through the glass.

    And into the darkness. The Void, someone was paid way too much to come up with that term. That was back when money mattered though. When there were still such things as ad men. That was back when our currency was made of paper. Now, it consisted of something more important. Now it was made of art.

    I needed to get back to the real world.

    I took another shallow draught of my beverage. I stared into the darkness, and we all know what happens when you do that. It filled me, or it refilled me. Inspiration was hard to come by after we recreated the world in our image. I remembered when the darkness that inspired me to write was literary. Now it was literal.

    I imagined a sunrise. The kind I would have seen before the clandestine agency that separated those of us who created from those of you who consumed did their work. I knew there was one. My clock told me it was time for such things.

    I could not see it though, just the void. That bothered me. That spoke to my artist’s soul. It filled the inner being with words for the paper. I needed to get back to the real world.

    I finished my coffee.

    I sat down to write. Back to the real world, my real worlds. I had as many people from our previous reality to populate them as any of the other artists. Later I would log on and we would discuss what we were doing with them. I wanted a good story to tell.

    Perhaps it was the all encompassing darkness that made me decide to write something light, and the varying degrees of such.

    1. Observer Tim

      I don’t quite understand why, Reaper, but I find this story uplifting and inspiring. I think it’s the fact that your MC is staring into a dark and uncertain present with a dark and uncertain future, yet still decides that the best answer is to become a source of light. It’s a deep and thought-provoking viewpoint. 🙂

      Now get out of my head, it’s crowded enough in here…

    2. jhowe

      You posted late this time. I almost missed it. I’m trying to decide if this is semi autobiographical, with your writing world and your other world colliding and competing for your time. But then again, knowing you, it’d be no contest. The writing world wins. You made me think, and that’s a good thing. Very cool piece.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Sounds to me that you’re getting ready to break out. Into the light, the sunshine, the pure pleasure of nature doing what it always has. Rise the budding trees from thr burnt forest. Your message is full of hope, not only for yourself but those you influence.

  13. apennell21

    “Tom? What the hell are you doing in here? Have you seen what’s happened outside?” I ask frantically.

    “I’m sorry Jules.” Tom says tonelessly as he slowly turns around. “I had to.”

    “Had to do what? I demand. Tom slowly slides his hands into his pockets and begins walking towards me.

    “You never would have stayed Jules. You never would have believed.” Tom replies in a voice I hardly recognize. This is not my husband. My hair stands on end as he gets closer to me. He finally peels his eyes from the floor, and when they lock with mine I nearly jump out of my skin. Rather than the steady ocean blue’s I’ve always known, I am met with pitch-black voids. I run to the door, but Tom is too fast. He grabs me by my wrists.

    “It’s too late Jules. There’s no use in fighting. I’ll take care of you. You need only mind me.” Tom hisses. He shoves me into the wall and brings his face within an inch of mine.

    “Nothing escapes the void.” Tom whispers so solemnly that I can hardly breathe. He hits the garage door button behind my head, and it begins rolling itself up onto the ceiling. What looks like black mist begins slithering its way across the garage floor. All I can think about is Milly and Jack, oblivious and alone upstairs.

    “What have you done Tom? What about the kids?” I say hotly as the void slowly creeps closer.

    “The kids?” Tom asks incredulously. “Jules, this is for the kids. The void beckons them.” I take one last look into Tom’s black eyes before everything goes dark. I’m in the void. Tom’s hands are still securely clasped around my wrists, and I have no idea if the void will creep under the door into the house or if it is trapped within the garage.

    I hear something come into the room. I feel Tom’s grip tighten.

    “Are they here?” A gurgling old voice bellows.

    “Upstairs.” Tom replies robotically. I hear heavy movement labor its way across the floor. I slam my forehead forward into the dark right into Tom’s face. He screams and I lunge in the direction of the door. My fingers desperately scratch around looking for the handle when a brilliant light floods the garage.

    “Nothing escapes the void Julia Whitman.” The gurgling voice says. I continue to blindly search for the handle when I hear them.

    “Mommy! Mama!” Milly and Jack cry. They are outside of the garage. I can hear feet clamoring up something metal. I stagger in the direction of their cries when the light disappears and the darkness returns. I am knocked over by forceful winds and can feel something enormous hovering above me. I stand up and stretch out my arms. My fingers touch cold metal and the next thing I know, I’m alone in the void.

    1. Lucretia_BezBawni_Amstell

      Nice) I like the way you left a few lines from part 1 to remind of it, and the story came out pretty cool, a lot of action, nice plot, scary and thrilling at the same time. I did though have to read the line “he peeled his eyes of the floor” to realise you meant he looked up))) That was some picture in my head) You gotta be careful with such phrases.

    2. Observer Tim

      Way to ramp up the creepy factor, Apennell. This is a great continuation, and manages to extend the surreal sense of the original very well. It’s a nice and human touch that her real worry is for her children moreso than herself. 🙂

      My only quibble is how she knew the light came on if she couldn’t see.

      1. apennell21

        Thanks OT!

        I read back through, and you’re right I didn’t explain the light coming on very clearly. The void came into the garage, and Jules was enclosed in the dark… and then a bright light comes from beyond the garage once the door opens flooding the garage in light. She goes from being blinded by darkness, to being blinded by the light and then back to the darkness. Clear as mud? 🙂

  14. Observer Tim

    NOT AGAIN

    Of all the things in the universe, I like coffee the best. This morning that’s a good thing, because it also seems to be about the only thing in the universe. Outside my window is nothing but an infinity of pitch-black nothing.

    What have those demented little lawn gnomes done? No, I take that back; lawn gnomes are way smarter than them! Lawn gnomes know better than to destroy the whole universe!

    And to think my son wanted to let those people in the house.

    Ah well, there’s no option but to start again from scratch. I step out onto the porch and look around.

    Darkness and void. Check.

    “Let there be light.”

    1. Observer Tim

      According to my faith, God is infinitely forgiving provided we show honest contrition. However, I do find it fun from time to time to explore what He would be like if He were just one of us and saw all the stupid things humanity gets up to. I hope I don’t get extra time in Purgatory for this…

    2. Beebles

      Hi OT. With reference to this and the one below, I wondered if there was a term that was the literary equivalent of perfect comic timing. If so you should have a medal with it on in big letters. Two real peaches.

  15. cosi van tutte

    Okay. I lied. This is one more. And it’s kind of creepy.

    ***

    Minoa O’Leand picked up her Hasbro lemon custard pie launcher and pointed it at the leprechaun. “I have vanquished all of your little green buddies. Say your prayers. You’re goin’ down.”

    The leprechaun flipped his long red hair over his shoulders and spewed a steady stream of Irish and Welsh insults. Of course, with his thick Scottish accent, none of it made any particular sense.

    “Whatever.” She pulled the trigger.

    The pie hit him square in the chest. “AIIIIEEE! BEGGOOOORRRAHHH!” He flung himself into the sky and flew away, looking remarkably like a Canadian goose.

    “Good. Now to save Leprechaun Queen Brigett McCaranahan from the cheese factory munchkins.” She turned around and walked into the cheese factory, which reeked of overly ripe feta cheese. “All right, you short losers! Come on out and meet your doom!”

    The entire Lollipop Guild pranced out in their short shorts, puffy sleeved shirts, and cheesehead hats. They smirked at Minoa.

    She pointed her Mattel roast turkey gun at the tallest one.

    He opened his smirky mouth. A stream of sibilant whispers slipped and slid out.

    She aimed the gun at his head. “What did you just say?”

    He opened his mouth wider. The whispers turned into visible letters. They twirled around her, binding her with their long snake tails.

    The whole Lollipop Guild claimed her gun and took their turns shooting roast turkeys everywhere.

    The whispers grew stronger, tighter until she couldn’t breathe. Her eyesight dimmed until nighttime fell.

    ***

    Minoa gasped and opened her eyes.

    She was in her room.

    Not a single munchkin in sight.

    “I’m safe.” She crawled out of bed, straggled to the bathroom, and flicked on the bathroom light.

    A child’s voice whispered, “Look look look.”

    She startled and glanced back into her empty room. “Who’s there?”

    “Shh.”

    She grabbed her bathrobe and put it on. “I said, who’s there?”

    “Can she see us?”

    “Of course not. Now, be still. Let’s see what she does next.”

    “Who are you?” She returned to her bedroom. “Show yourself!”

    The loud sound of someone knocking on glass made her jump. She ran over to her window and opened her drapes. “What the…”

    There was nothing outside. Just a thick, unbroken darkness. She couldn’t even see Ms. McGonahey’s lamp post. “What’s going on here? What is all this?”

    “Don’t knock on the glass. You’ll just make her mad.”

    She ran over to her closets and yanked the doors open.

    No one was inside.

    “When are they gonna feed her? I wanna see her eat.”

    “They have to wait for her to calm down first.”

    Her heart pounded. “This can’t be real. It’s a nightmare. I’m still asleep. I must be still asleep. Please let me be still asleep.”

    “What if she doesn’t calm down?”

    “Well. They’ll make her calm down.”

    “You mean I’ll get to see them shoot her?”

    Minoa raced to her bedroom door.

    “No. They don’t use tranqs anymore. They’ll use a sedating gas. It’s more effective and less likely to offend those with delicate sensibilities.”

    She grabbed the doorknob and turned it and yanked it open.

    For a moment, her heart stopped beating.

    A thick pane of glass stretched far and wide before her. There was no way to climb over it or run around it.

    But that is not what stopped her heart.

    A whole crowd of creatures stood on the other side of the glass. Strange creatures. Alien creatures.

    And they were all looking at her.

    There was nowhere she could run. No place to hide from their staring eyes. She crumpled to the ground and covered her face with her hands. But she could still hear them whispering. She cried hard, muffled cries until the gas knocked her out cold.

    ***

    Ipixit looked up at his mom. “Is she dead?”

    “No. Just sleeping.”

    He looked back at the curled up body. “She looked scared.”

    “They always do. But don’t worry. She’ll get used to her cage. One day, she’ll even forget that it’s there.”

    “Hmm.”

    She stroked his head tentacles out of his eyes. “Come. Let’s go see the male exhibit. You’ll be amazed by how much he can eat.”

    1. Observer Tim

      When I was young they got a new polar bear at the Assiniboine Zoo in Winnipeg. She spent the first several months pacing back and forth in her habitat (cage), barely even taking time to sleep. I later found out this is a reaction of bears under extreme stress. You captured that here perfectly, Cosi. 🙂

      1. cosi van tutte

        Thanks, Beebles!

        To be honest, I’m still not sure if the first part was a dream or her strange every day life. Either way, I’m glad you liked it. 😀

  16. cosi van tutte

    Annnd one more. Just because I got that first line stuck in my head. 😀

    ****

    This was not the betrayal I was hoping for.

    Quite frankly, I’d always hoped that one of my minions would turn rogue and kill me with a quick dagger strike. It would be surprising and climatic. It would also be unlikely. My minions know better than to turn against me.

    Minaha Rose. No. I don’t want to think of her. If I were talking right now, I would stop. I will not waste any more words on her. Her with her fire-gold hair. Her with her amber eyes.

    But I won’t think of her.

    I won’t think of how she used me. How she tricked me. How she betrayed me.

    I won’t do it.

    But I can’t help it.

    There is nothing else for me to do in this darkness, in this endless void.

    So, I will think of her and remember when she was by my side. When she was mine.

    I will not think of how she let that Ignatius fool talk “sense” into her head. He talked other things into her head. Other ideas. Other feelings.

    I will not think of how she grabbed my hand during the battle.

    Her skin was so soft and smelled always of hot simmered spices. I loved her.

    I would have married her.

    She told me that she would hide me. I would be safe from Ignatius and his flaming sword of justice.

    She pushed me in here and locked the door.

    The door is gone now and I am alone.

    But no.

    I will not think of that.

    Instead, I will hope and I will wait for her return.

    1. Observer Tim

      Whoa, he’s got it bad. Though I can’t help but think I’d do the same in that situation. You portrayed the torch your MC is carrying very well; the short interrupted thoughts worked perfectly and really gave the impression of being inside his head. Very nice! 🙂

  17. MikeGill

    It’s a Bad Joke

    “Computer, what time is it?”

    “Well, that depends on your point of reference, Hal.” The computer replied in his ear piece. Hal regretted letting Nob program a new personality for the computer. For the last week it had been snarky in its responses to questions. He would have to speak with Nob about toning down the snarky, but he thought they should keep the sultry, sexy female voice though. It was nice to hear whispered in his ear on a ship full of men.

    He sipped from his coffee cup to calm down so he wouldn’t yell at the computer again. “Coffee.” He thought. Another thing he missed. Something was wrong with the drink producer. Coffee tasted like waste water. Not that the horrid black tea was much better. He reminded himself to speak to chief of maintenance, Jay-ar ,about it again. A captain should drink coffee, after all. “Earth time, please.”

    “Your relative time frame is seven fifteen on Friday April first, Hal.”

    He looked out his stateroom’s viewport. It was still inky black. No stars were to be seen. It was disconcerting. Hal tried to remind himself that it was part of the process. This is what they told him the jump would be like. The in-between, as the theory went, was an absence of everything. He and his crew would be moving between the folds of time and space. For the time of the jump, they would be the only thing in existence. He knew the science and the explanation. He knew that all the tests had worked perfectly. First, they had jumped a pen across the room. Then they sent it across the earth. Then it was mice jumped to the moon station. Then jumped to Mars Station. All had gone well, so the JST (Jump Space Transport) had been built. He and the crew affectionately called her the Jump Suit. The initial mission was simple: make a jump of one light year. The hope was to be able to make longer jumps and search for a new planet to move the population to. Even after the Greens had won the Environmental Wars, the Earth had continued to decline. Now there were almost as many living on the moon stations and on Mars Station as on Earth. But something more permanent and sustainable needed to be found.

    It was supposed to take 8 hours to finish the jump. Using the time lag for the shorter jumps had provided the estimate. The jump was supposed to start and finish while they slept the night before. It was determined from the experiments that this would be easier on the minds of the crew (a few of the mice had problems after their jumps). They had flow for two weeks to a mostly empty sector in order to jump safely.

    But Hal was on his second cup of wretched swill called tea and they still were in the dark. “Computer, what is the status of our jump?”

    “Unknown.”

    “What do you mean unknown?”

    “Sensors report the jump complete. Sensors report the jump on-going.”

    Hal cursed under his breath and turned back to the viewport. “April fools.” The slinky voice whispered in his ear. As he looked the scene changed. The empty black was replaced by blue and green of Earth. “We went there and back again.”

    He was really going to have to yell at Nob for the programing.

    1. Observer Tim

      Yup, Nob would have to die – metaphorically, at least. With time off for good behaviour, he’d get a really good yelling at.

      I love the way you incorporated the various elements of this; nice to know people will still be people, even in the future… 🙂

      1. MikeGill

        Thanks. I’ve never tried SciFi before. I am more of a general fiction or fantasy person usually in my writing. But this one just seemed to call for a spaceship.

  18. PatDatMann

    Dark Chatter

    The morning was quiet and I remember awaking questioning it’s stillness. That lasted all of few seconds as it quickly turned in to me scrutinizing why I had to be up so early in the first place. Shuffling towards the awakening shock of my morning shower I noticed settling into a meditative state was relatively easier than usual.

    With a few twists of the the bath fixtures- off went the humdrum flow of running water as I took few deep breathes to be met with not the sounds of the morning but nothing at all. Thinking back on it there were no trash can rumbles, car hums or even sporadic bird chirping- all I could remember hearing was faucet dripping and water draining. Meditation is something that I’ve always gone out of my way to practice every morning and even throughout the day, so I suppose on this particular morning I thought I must’ve found a deeper groove allowing me to block almost everything out.

    Trichelle – my darling domestic partner, is nine times out of ten most likely to be up and about by the time I’m dressed or putting on my shoes but due to her just having left for Montreal the day before my mental silence had more space to revel in. Honestly I was a little happy to take that walk to the coffee maker without having to brief my mouth on the response I’d give to Tree’s inevitable concerns about the day to come. Needless to say I was noticing the beauty silence brought and looking forward to what the day may bring.

    I remember thinking: such an aural beauty of course has a visual match, let me take a beat to observe the dim lit neighborhood under the morning sky. Opening the blinds to peer out my window and nothing but pitch black darkness.

    Totally confused; I didn’t believe my eyes. I temporarily aborted the coffee making process to lean over the sink and leer through the window just to locate at least one moving object- nothing. With the cabinet door agape and the coffee pot off its dock I walked towards the front door- feeling, touching, grabbing and even throwing things in my wake because after staring through my window for five minutes not sure if I’m seeing anything at all, I’ve begun to question reality. Now in a thoroughly unease and approaching the doorstep of downright scared, I warily look out the peephole only to confirm what I thought I’d see: darkness. After a few deep breathes I gave the door knob the grip of life and what followed was the slowest turn and push of the door anyone’s ever seen as I began a step across the threshold with my right foot as the lead.

    Nothing.

    That shift of weight from left foot to right was never felt. Once my toe entered that dark abyss I felt total and utter weightlessness. The next thing I knew I’m telling this story to you, or- you all. It feels like I’m telling it within myself but I know everyone can hear me, as I can hear them; understanding. I feel unequivocally disintegrated and completely whole.

    1. Observer Tim

      Looks like somebody achieved transcendence without realizing it…

      I really like the way you told this story in tiny introspective details. It did a great job of giving the sense of being there and sharing the experience with your MC. Very well written, Pat. 🙂

  19. Raph

    It was just a regular day.

    I woke up to no sound. I don’t even get why I woke up. That’s when I felt my phone vibrating next to me. I probably fell asleep texting her again. My screen read ” WAKE UP RAPHAËL, TIME TO WAKE UP AND WORK. WAAAKE UP! – Ann “.
    I groaned and pushed my amazingly comfortable and soft blanket. It’s light blue colour somehow enhanced its relaxing properties.
    I was tired of walking around, being Raphaël, drinking my Raphaël coffee in my Raphaël mug and wearing my Raphaël clothes. My morning routine seemed more like a vicious cycle at the moment.
    That’s when it hit me. I wasn’t doing any of those things because I was still in bed and I just wasted 10 minutes thinking about what I should be doing.

    I rushed out of my room.
    Wait a minute.
    I slowly walked backwards. Where did my door go? I turned my light on. No door.
    I turned around and was met with a black square for a window. Hold on..
    That square was a hole in my wall!
    I felt sweat trickle on my neck. What was happening to me? Had I finally snapped? Was I dead?
    It was pitch black outside. I grabbed a piece of paper, crumpled it and threw it out. I could see it fall, until it was just a white dot in the black void.
    That didn’t seem logic.
    I grabbed my iPod, played the worst music I knew, then stuck my arm out into the emptiness. Nope, I could still hear it. So it was just darkness.
    Just.. Regular darkness.
    Damn it that didn’t make sense.
    All of my ” my house materialised itself in space but it isn’t freezing cold and I can breath ” theories were as fake as they sounded, then. Silly me.
    I probably should have mentioned I lived on the tenth floor, hence the crumpled piece of paper that didn’t seem to land.
    I looked at my phone again. ” 9 : 03 PM “.
    So it was indeed a regular day.
    Ann’s text dated from 6 : 30 AM. Looks like I.. Overslept.
    But where did my door go?

    ( ahh this is the first time i’m writing here hello )

    1. UnclePizza

      Welcome Raph! I’m kind of new here too – maybe six posts now? I’ve found it to be a great place to read interesting stories plus get feedback on your own writing. Speaking of which, I really liked the ending on this – two good smiles back to back. First, the classic “oh, I accidentally slept all day” concept plus the kicker about the door to really take the grin up another notch. Good first post!

    2. cosi van tutte

      Hi, Raph!

      Welcome aboard! 😀

      Just so you know, I really liked his way of testing the darkness with his iPod. Although, I will admit, I thought he was going to throw the iPod out the window too. And that last line is a real zinger. 🙂

    3. Observer Tim

      Welcome aboard, Raph;

      I love the way your MC takes enough charge of the situation to think about it rationally, but not enough to wonder why the world is that way, at least not for several minutes. I would be curious to see where this story goes. Nice one! 🙂

  20. jhowe

    I’d never stepped into a void before, or maybe I had, I didn’t know. The voice had said to do just that, though. ‘Step into the void.’ Over and over, flooding my being, overlapping my senses. I could actually see the words, taste them, feel them. ‘Step into the void.’

    “What void?” I shouted. The voice diminished, only a murmur. No discernible information as to where the void was. I searched the house, opened doors, windows, checked closets, the garage. Was the void literal? Was it an actual place? “Please!” I said, my hands shaking, pulling at the flesh on my cheeks.

    ‘Step into the void.’ The voice was muffled and strangely calm. Did it come from within the walls? I needed a hammer, a crowbar, something heavy. The basement – tools were there. I couldn’t go down there. My stomach lurched. I wouldn’t.

    ‘Step into the void.’

    “No, not the basement. Please not there!” I said, banging my head against the cellar door. The knob throbbed in my hand. I wouldn’t turn it, I couldn’t.

    ‘Step into the void.’

    “The void’s not down there, damn it!” But I knew. It was there. I turned the knob and peered into the darkness. A dim light flickered when I flipped the switch, shadows warned me to stay away, but I descended, one agonizing step at a time. I pulled a string and the shop burst with harsh light. From the workbench I picked up a steel handled roofing hammer. I put the sharpened clawed end to my throat and applied pressure. A bit more and the voice would stop. A trickle of blood bolstered my nerve. I would win.

    ‘Step into the void.’ I threw the hammer at the concrete wall, the clatter echoed and died. With bean bag legs, I moved forward. A thick wood door, a smell floating in the dusty air, sweet, rancid, familiar. I’d smelled it before. ‘Step into the void.’

    The door creaked when I pulled. The smell was strong, so strong, so intoxicating. Decaying bodies, squirming maggots, tattered clothing, disgust. I entered. The floor sucked at my shoes, the ooze viscous, alive. ‘Step into the void.’ And then I knew. There was room for one more. The decay had shrunken the mass of the bodies and there was room, a void that had to be filled. I retrieved the hammer and walked up the stairs. A void that had to be filled. The voice, refreshingly silent.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Good grief, John. This is ‘Inner Sanctum’ in spades. The man is obviously insane and a serial killer. With a thread of sanity to realize what he does is repugnant, horrible, yet he is drawn to it. Kill, Kill, fill the void, fill the void. Edgar Allen Poe -ish story with no ending. That’s what so spooky about this, there is no end, until….. until what?

    2. UnclePizza

      Wow, I like this. Very well written. Only thing that seems out of sorts to me is the voice going silent once the MC understands what needs to be done. I would think that the voice would not stop until he actually put the new body into the basement?

    3. Observer Tim

      Okay, this one is creepy. How come the voices never say “Don’t shoot!”? As the sense of what was going on became clearer, this became more and more disturbing. The repetition without explanation (except as the MC figures it out) really makes this. 🙂

    4. Lucretia_BezBawni_Amstell

      Wow, jhowe, you made me shiver. Atmospheric beyond measure. However, while reading the beginning I actually thought the story would go to a completely different direction) And with your permission, let me tell you, how I though that was gonna end. See my new post above in a few minutes.

  21. Observer Tim

    AHA!

    I stand in my bathrobe and give a quick jock scratch. I was sure the universe was there yesterday. A part of my brain says that once I have some coffee in my I’ll start panicking. After all, it’s not every morning you wake up to eternal blackness punctuated by distant stars outside your kitchen window.

    I’m not sure what possesses me, but I walk over the door and flip the switch there. It’s a bright sunny suburban morning outside.

    I flip it down, and it’s blackness and stars again.

    Up. Suburbia.

    Down. Blackness.

    So that’s what that switch does.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I have another theory, I have switches [2] in my house that do nothing, for eighteen years, they do nothing. Maybe I should try one more time. This is an interesting approach to a morning after too much ‘Jack’.

      2. Observer Tim

        You and Kerry are right, John. I recall an old episode of “Married With Children” where Al kept flipping one of these switches, which was turning a light in the backyard doghouse on and off. 🙂

      1. Observer Tim

        I assume the MC flipped it absent-mindedly as he was going to bed the night before. This was in response to an incident in real life, where somebody just casually walked out and switched off the main power to the room where my roomies and I all have our computer equipment. I think the electrician who set up the circuit was an idiot.

  22. Silver Sister

    Cinnamon toast and tea. As a nutritious breakfast it lacked a certain something – mainly nutrition. As comfort food, it was right on the money. Out of habit, I started to put it on a tray to carry to my office. “Nope, not today,” I murmured. I ate at the bar instead. Besides, this way I could eat and watch one of those horribly depressing morning new shows. I really should start watching those. You know, be a grown up. A well-informed citizen.

    Turns out having the attention the span of a guppy isn’t conducive to being a well-informed citizen. All it took was one senator to start blathering and I was daydreaming like it was my job. Actually, I guess it is. Or was. If my current predicament doesn’t work itself out, I’ll have to find another job. Which is unfortunate because I’m not actually qualified to do anything else.

    “Get it together.” I glanced at the hall mirror. Damn, that was a mistake. No good news there. “You’ve had a few weeks to wallow.” I scolded the reflection. “Lots of women have been cheated on. Lots of women have had their happily ever after ripped from them. Granted, most of them probably weren’t romance writers . . .” With deadlines. And a growing realization that true love is about as real as unicorns.

    I hugged myself. Cynicism is a new and uncomfortable frock on me. I sighed. “If you’re going to stand around talking to yourself, at least make up a character to talk to.”

    The woman in the mirror said nothing. I frowned. “You know, you always have been a pain in my ass.”

    I turned my back on her and walked toward my office. The curtains were closed so I switched on the light. I wondered what the window would show me today. After all, I’d managed a little banter with the mirror. That had to be a hopeful sign, right?

    I crept cautiously to the window. Before, I never failed to see something out this window. I’d watch my characters engage in a meet cute. Or I’d see the gorgeous estate destined to be my next setting. I’d witness a stolen moment between lovers or scheming of an antagonist bent on keeping the happy couple apart. I could stare out that window for hours and see so many things . . .

    Gathering my courage, I whipped the curtain back. Just what I feared. Nothing but black. I stared at it for longer than was sane. Nothing emerged. The sinking feeling that I might be in a bit of trouble unsettled me. I closed the curtain and left the office. I need more cinnamon toast.

    1. Observer Tim

      She needs to make paper dolls out of the cinnamon toast and have them undertake a nice gooey brown-sugary kiss. Or is that just the insanity talking?

      This is a great look into the mind of writer’s block; hopefully her slump doesn’t last too long. I’ll pray she goes out into the void and finds the stars. Wonderfully atmospheric, Sister, and good to see you back. 😀

  23. apennell21

    “What the hell is that?” I say to myself as I look through the kitchen window. I walk through the hallway to the front door and look out the side window. The hair on my neck stands on end.
    Beyond the front porch where our driveway should be is an eternity of darkness. No ground. No sky. Nothing. I press my ear up to the window. I hear nothing. I glance up the stairs and see the doors to Milly and Jack’s rooms. Every morning the first thing they do is run outside to play in the backyard while I make breakfast. I hurry across the main floor and begin locking every door and window. The twins are tiny Houdini’s, but there is no way they are getting out. I tip toe up the stairs and lock all the upstairs windows. I have no idea how I’m going to explain this to my rambunctious three year olds; I don’t even understand it myself.
    I sit on the stairs and try to think of what in the hell could have happened. I glance down at my watch and the face is completely black. It looks as if someone filled it with black ink. I turn around to read the clock on the wall behind me, and it too is completely black. I pull it off the wall and it looks as if someone removed the hands and numbers and dipped it in flat black paint. Starting to feel like I must be in a nightmare, I pinch myself hard on the forearm and promptly yelp.
    Immediately I hear groans from Milly’s bedroom. She’s always been the light sleeper. I hear the soft scuttle of her footie pajamas and then her curly mane of hair pop out from behind her bedroom door.
    “Moring mama.” She mumbles. I hurry over and scoop her up into my arms.
    “Morning my munch.” I whisper as I snuggle her in close to me. “Want to go watch Blue’s Clues in mama’s room?” Milly’s eyes light up immediately. I’m strict about their TV time, but I knew it would give me some time to figure out…something. I bring Milly into our room and put on Blue’s Clues. The curtains are drawn and I know she won’t move them. I start walking towards the door when I notice that Tom’s workout bag and briefcase are still here. I may not know what time it is, but if those are both here, than Tom should be too.
    “Mama will be right back Milly. I’m just getting something from the garage.” I tell her. She isn’t even fazed. I sprint down the stairs and open the door to the garage. The lights are on and Tom standing by the main door.
    “Tom? What the hell are you doing in here? Have you seen what’s happened outside?” I ask frantically.
    “I’m sorry Jules.” Tom says tonelessly as he slowly turns around. “I had to.”

    1. Lucretia_BezBawni_Amstell

      I feel like you clipped the important part of this piece, because there’s too much left untold. If I were you I’d start with the kid running to her mom (because we know everything else from the prompt) and then use the rest of the word count to explain what Tom did and why, so there’s a sense of completeness, more or less. Try again?

      1. apennell21

        Thanks for the feedback! I wanted to end with a cliff hanger but I realize that defeats the purpose of this particular prompt. I’m going to write a “part 2”. I’ve never participated in writing prompts before. This is a first for me, so I appreciate the comments!

    2. Observer Tim

      I wonder how Tom managed to destroy the universe. It sounds like a deliberate act, so what could have prompted him to do it? And, more importantly, can he put it back?

      Jules’s impressions really make this piece; it’s a wonderful slice of normal life being tipped off the edge of the table into the Twilight Zone. 🙂

      1. apennell21

        Thanks for the feedback! I’m going to try again with a “part 2”. This was my first writing prompt ever, so I’m glad to see it wasn’t a complete failure!

  24. JosephFazzone

    I burned my tongue. Scalding acid replaced my coffee for this morning’s breakfast performance. All my taste buds were fried, and my throat shrieked in pain as the liquid burned its way down. I coughed and sputtered. I looked out my kitchen window.

    Instead of the Kepner’s House, and their garden of roses and orchids that sang in a symphony of magenta and pink, I saw nothing. It appeared as if my house had been cut from existence and placed on a matte black finish. All was too calm, nothing was all right. I checked the other windows, and each view told the same story, “Blackness with a chance of black.”

    I dropped my cup in shock. The high pitched sound it made abruptly echoed into muddied and muffled. My favorite cup, an anniversary present from my wife. It was solid white with “LLB” in blue letters.

    I wanted to get the broom in the closet a few feet away, but somehow it was a staggering distance away. Was the toast burning? The acrid smell assaulted my nose. The toast must be jammed again. If I don’t take it out, the kitchen will stink forever and a day. Those heavy dark brown curtains will keep the scent for months after that. So toast or broom?

    I took a step, not sure why actually, I wasn’t going that way. A lancing pain shot up through my foot. It felt numb, almost distant within seconds. I noticed the cherry wood cabinets lose their cherry, and the curtains pale. It all seemed diminished, my head swam, and my heart pounded in my chest, seeking escape. It’s so angry. I felt like I was drowning in the emptiness unable to do anything. Everything was becoming one with the void, the blackness.

    My chest felt heavy as if something is pushing really hard on it, and then harder and harder. I feel as it if my sternum was cracking.

    “BREATHE!!!”

    I’m found myself lying on the floor. My foot was throbbing. Alice held me close. She looked at me closely. Her eyes were glossy from tears of relief. “Mike! Mike! Thank god! Are you okay?”

    I coughed as I fought for my breath. The world rushed into my ears. Wave upon wave of sounds, smells, sights, and feelings crashed into me. I reeled as I felt undeserving to accept it. I nodded to her while greedily taking huge gulps of air. Tears ran down my face, the darkness is became a memory.

    “I’m calling 911,” she told me. “You were on the floor writhing about. Your face was beet red…” She broke down crying. She must have been so scared. She’s my rock, and my pillow. She’s my world, and presently my knight in shining armor.

    “I broke the cup,” I said. It was the only thing I could think of to say.

    “What matters is that you’re okay,” she said softly, and then she sighed deeply.

    “Not the best way to start the day.” I gave her a sheepish grin. My stupid jokes are my way of letting her know that I’m fine.

    She knew. She laughed, and said, “Let me take a look at your foot.”

    1. Observer Tim

      Welcome to the wide world of neurological distress! There are several conditions that come with a burnt toast smell, like epilepsy, stroke, Alzheimers, MS, brain tumors, etc. You did a great job walking us through the strange impressions, Joey. I truly hope it’s not from personal experience! I love the way you crammed all that power into a relatively few words. 😀

      1. Kerry Charlton

        This wqas awesome to read, frightful, realistic. Thankfully, a happy ending. Soulds like a mini stroke or “Petit Mal” My brother had this affliction most of his life. He lost consciousnesss for a minute or so, would double over with a glassy stare. Wow, you brought this home to me. Wonderful read. Hope it’s not drawn from personal experience.

  25. The Lady

    On days unforgiving, one might wake as the splitting headache characteristic of premonition. An unforgiving day this was, one which instilled a crippling discomfort which tore at the mind– it’d have awoken me from the bliss of an empty dream to the sight of pitiful monotony.

    The monotony of living from the scraps of society’s meat were those which serve as the common force that drives a person mad, a studio apartment is no more than a canvas too petite to hold the finer arts in decoration; though blissful to the distracted author.

    A half-assed attempt at righting oneself from the sprawled position of starfish came about with surprising ease, callused bare feet landing upon the songbirds of floors; they’d greet with the morning trill typical of homes forgotten on the path of time.

    The purposeless path towards the close shuttered window would be taken; a path of such sort is only a few steps in length, pity those who hold the luxury of trodding farther along.

    A beaded thread would be drawn in hopes of letting in the light, a feeble attempt at lessening the pressure on my pocket without an initial drawback.

    No light was to filter through the opened slits once shading; peculiar in nature, I couldn’t help but inspect further.

    There was nothing. An absence of being lay beyond the glass barrier between oneself and the body of all unknown.

    A lack of understanding was the only cognition to come, an oddity beyond human understanding at our current level of universal understanding. Pray for the sudden possibility of obtaining higher knowledge, alas alack ‘tis not to be, for the improbabilities of life are near impossibilities.

    Fumbling within the dimly lit surroundings, one managed to locate the switches in connection to light fixtures strung upon this financial accommodations plaster. Upon proper location, my would amend the dimmer’s position in a fashion typically associated with the ascension of light.

    All was to no avail.

    Thank the heavens above for the position of a doorway beside this failing electric trigger, for a tremoring set of digits may make way to turn the knob in attachment to such a gateway.

    A cautious opening, peering at first through a measly crack in hopes of discovering a functioning light source.

    All was but void of matter.

    ‘Tis a cause for pity, without a driving force to light the way, humanity may be dragged into the void of self doubt. Perhaps this lamentable experience is no more than metaphorical– for even in dark, one held power and reason to search for the light.

    1. Observer Tim

      This reads more like a collection of poetic impressions than a story, and yet the story is fully told within those bounds. It’s a lovely and playful effect; very thought-provoking. I’m pretty sure I could not write this way. Bravo! 😀

      1. The Lady

        Thank you so much! I’m glad you enjoyed my work, I love hearing how people perceive my writing… ~ When it comes to longer writing, I typically expand much further than this format, alas both poetry and longer story telling are things I love.

    2. Teserk

      I’ll be honest, this drove me to distraction. I feel like I had to fight my way through to understanding and the payoff didn’t seem worth it. That said, there is a certain meta-experience here where I felt perhaps part of what the person in the story was feeling, so maybe it worked in that vein.

      1. The Lady

        I understand perfectly, thank you for the feedback! I will admit that I myself became a bit distracted in the writing process, though I figured it’d be best to push through in the long run.

  26. Dana Cariola

    Panic-stricken by the darkness, now enveloping my view. My hands trembled at the ghastly sight of nothingness. The ceramic mug I cradled in my hand, fell slowly towards the tile flooring, before shattering beneath me, prompting me back to this reality.
    “What the hell? I thought to myself, as I moved towards the kitchen door, unsure of what was really happening to me.
    Quickly, I pulled the door inward towards me, sure that once open. The garden hose would be right where I’d left it last night. Unraveled on the footpath below. That same black menacing void was all around me. Swallowing up my take on my own reality. I reached out my hand to touch it. It’s texture felt prickly on the tips of my fingers, almost electrified with tiny ionic charges. A small surge traveled upwards, through my nervous system, towards my shoulder, as a faint smell from the electricity filled my nostrils. Soon, I could feel a presence, inside of my mind, with me. Probing my memories, spying on my life.

    I’m not afraid!.. I should be…but, I’m not…I could hear the laughter of children. They’re singing? …Yes. Their singing. I remember that song!…From kindergarten?… Yes, I remember. As a smile can over my face, as I recalled the memory. And, then the feeling was gone. Tears streamed down my face, as the memory of my father’s funeral rushed into view. “No!…I don’t want too go back there. Please.” I pleaded with the entity.

    I could now taste, the cake at my wedding. Along with the sound of my wife’s voice laughing, as she stuffed it. “That’s much better. hoping the entity would hear me and continue on with this sweet dream.

    Then it stopped, as quickly as it began. The light returned to my kitchen, as did the view of my sad garden.

    Oh, my god!…What just happened!….It’s those god dam anxiety pills! Their making me hallucinate. Grabbing the pill bottle, and quickly dumping every one of those useless tablets, down the drain

    1. Observer Tim

      Don’t you just hate when your meds turn on you? I’ve never had that side effect, thank goodness. I love the way you built the sense of confusion while not actually giving way to the surreality of the situation. 🙂

      1. Kerry Charlton

        There is nothing more frightening then your mind going haywire, even for a moment. I have driven many times with my mind elsewhere sifting through regrets and problems. That’s when I know the angels keep me from running into an oak tree. It’s frightening to wake up from that. Your story illustrates the complexity of the human mind, when it realizs the 500 year old oak tree doesn’t think and is not going to hop out of your path.

  27. Lucretia_BezBawni_Amstell

    I draw the curtain aside and spray the first sip of my morning coffee all over the window pane.

    “I’m gonna kill that midget,” I whisper.

    Clearly the prank was meant to drive me crazy into thinking my house was taken by aliens and was now floating through the nowhere of the Universe. But I ain’t that stupid. Not when something like that happens for a hundredth time.

    One by one, I check the windows, all 17 of them and even the French doors at the back of the house are pitch-black. As I head for the front door, my jaw is so tight I wish it was my butt.

    “Colin!” I roar and kick my door open. “Colin, you stinking piece of monkey poo!”

    I take a shortcut to my neighbor’s house, climbing over the tiny fence and the bushes, falling and cursing. The moment I ring the bell, a fleeting thought crosses my mind–I’m in my bathrobe. It’s too late to retreat, because the door opens and I’m met with a sleepy and a little irritated look on Dean’s face. Hair unkempt, a shadow of a 6 am bristle around his lips which seem twice their size from an early wakeup–my definition of hot.

    “Morning, neighbor,” I say trying not to sound apologizing. “I need to have a word with your son.”

    “Laura, it’s early, he’s in bed.” Dean rubs the back of his neck and yawns.

    “I’m sure he is, ‘cause he’s been working hard all night.”

    He gives me a confused look and follows my pointed finger. It takes him a second to realize all my windows are painted black. I don’t need to convince him it was Colin, the little menace has been playing tricks on me for a while now; very creative and elaborate tricks for a 10-year-old, I’d give him that. Dean closes his eyes with a sigh, shaking his head.

    “Sorry.” I can’t help it. Right now he looks like a cuddle bear, not a father I’d like to have a serious talk with. “I understand how hard losing a mother could be, but–“

    “It’s been three years.” Dean examines my house again. “He only started to act out a few months back.”

    When I moved in.

    By the look he gives me I understand we’re both thinking it, but none of us says it out loud.

    “It’s not grief anymore, it’s being foolish. I’ll deal with him.”

    His last phrase is so brisk and quiet that I almost feel sorry for the boy. “Dean–“

    “I promise you he’s gonna scrub those windows till Kingdom come.”

    “I really am sorry.” His eyes linger on my bathrobe and flick to my bare feet, and I continue, moving some hair over my blushing cheeks. “I’ve no intention to replace his mom.”

    His face changes color too. “No…I know. We never… I understand.”

    “No, you don’t,” a small voice says behind him. Dean twists around, startled. “You both don’t.”

    Colin’s T-shirt and jeans are covered in black stains. He walks up to his Dad with determination that pushes Dean a step back. “I don’t need a new girl in the house,” Colin says. “You do.”

    1. Kerry Charlton

      This is blissfully darling prose. I really loved this. I’m thinking of all the great movies I’ve watched with a similiar theme. This is a new angle that would make a great hallmark movie. Most people think they’re boring and sometimes thery are but love still makes the world go around and we musn’t forget that, despite world turmoil. There is a sentence here that should be carved in stone —- “Colin you stinky piece of monkey poo!” fantastic

    2. Observer Tim

      Poor Dean and Laura – caught in the Parent Trap. Note to Dean: Kiss her, you fool!

      I love the way this quietly implies a budding romance. The interpersonal dynamic is very well developed in so few words. It’s a masterpiece of ‘less is more’. 🙂

    3. UnclePizza

      You did great with this – you even had me briefly thinking I knew something about the characters that they didn’t quite yet realize about themselves, that’s how real you made them to me.

  28. Observer Tim

    THE MIND OF MADNESS

    I walk to the kitchenette without bothering to get dressed; the coffee pot has seen me naked before. A quick glance out the balcony window tells me the ineffable black void is still there. The void that swallowed up my John.

    Cuppa in hand, I pad across the living room, using my patented “who the heck is she and where can I get some” walk. If there were a world out there it would be getting the full frontal. I slide the balcony door open and see the darkness at the center of the universe.

    I can feel its hunger reaching for me, a gibbering madness invisible to the human eye but clawing at the threads of sanity that encircle our so-called reality. This is the true infinity that none can escape from. I can feel the pressure of it trying to erode away all of reality.

    I stand their, letting its sense-numbing, sense-overwhelming power caress my breasts. As the feeling of empty overstimulation reaches down I stare into the depths of madness.

    “I don’t care who you are, you want me it’s going to cost you. I start at $200 US for a …”

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Hi Tim, $200.00 really! What happened to the kiss in the moonlight? Thank God, I’m not young anymore. [Courtesy Maurice Chevalier]Also throw in {Thank God for little girls, for they grow bigger every day.] Also Chevalier. I did have a chance to see him on stage. What an experience.
        Good story Tim, we need more like this one Flash, flash fiction.

        1. Observer Tim

          Flash flash fiction – kind of makes you wonder which flash means what… Thanks, Kerry. 🙂

          This prompt is triggering a firestorm of ideas on me, most composed of single twists. This was one of them.

      1. Observer Tim

        Thanks, Reatha; it was a fun quick write. 🙂

        I’ve always figured H.P. Lovecraft should have written porn (or implied sexuality like this) just because of his name. The most non-HP thing about this story is that it’s under 10,000 words. 😉

      1. Observer Tim

        Thanks Uncle. That little throwaway line is a part of what goes on in my head every day. Not that the coffee pot has seen me naked – I have roomies, and I don’t want to make them claw their own eyes out. 🙂

  29. cosi van tutte

    Okay. For starters, it is not my fault.

    Sure, I was the one who smashed the tv. But, the way I look at it, the tv was asking for it. Had been asking for it for some time now.

    So, yes. That was my fault.

    This whole black void thing….nuh-uh. Not my fault. I don’t see how it could be my fault. I mean, come on! What my clone does has nothing to do with me.

    Sure, she was upset about the tv carcass lying in her bed. But where else was I going to put it? I mean, really?

    So, she got mad.

    So, she had a whole big temper fit.

    So, maybe her anger made the void appear.

    Again, this is not my fault.

    Just so you know.

    1. Observer Tim

      This is short, sweet and surreal – just the way I like it. I love the simple theme that ties it all together, and think the universe needs to cut your MC some slack. After all, it wasn’t her fault. 😀

    2. UnclePizza

      I hope you don’t take this wrong because I liked it a lot…

      I really don’t think you were channeling Bart Simpson, but that’s who this reminded me of… 🙂

      1. Kerry Charlton

        It wasn’t me, nu huh! I loved it, sounds like a clip from “Peanuts” Perhaps the wlole story belong there. A little bright sunshine for a Friday morning. uh huh, I liked it!

  30. jaydaward

    With one eye open I can already tell its going to be a shity day.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a pessimist or anything like that, its just that I have a sixth sense that tells me what my day is going to be like when i wake up in the morning . One thing my sixth sense doesn’t tell me is why its going to be a shitty day.. Groggily, I get up and make my way to the kitchen to make some shitty coffee. Why’s my coffee shitty? Because i’m using Maxwell coffee since my roommate decided that it taste better than the starbucks one and lets not forget the fact that I have an old time round coffee pot and not an update one push and woo-lah! Keurig. I grab my coffee mug and turn toward the kitchen window and i immediately freeze. Its still night time. I throw my coffee down the sink and practically run back to my bed. This was a better feeling than when you wake up in the middle of the night, look at your clock, and realize you still have extra time to sleep. Yeah its kind of the same thing I know, but Its greater satisfaction knowing that i actually got up to get the day started. Nevertheless, I wake back up an hour or so later and mysteriously its still dark outside. Stepping outside, i look around. No sign of light anywhere and its freezing. Not put a jacket on freezing, but frigid, bone chilling, hard to breathe freezing. I walk over to my roomates room and crack the door open- shes gone, figures. I unlock my phone to see what the hell is going on but I have no service, of course. Fucking Sprint.

    Pacing around my room, I try to think of what to do next. Should i rejoice? Isnt this every loners dream? To be swept away from reality and into an endless void of space with only my thoughts to consume me? Or do i secretly crave the energy of others and I only pretend to like being alone? Doesn’t everyone want to be alone until they are actually all alone..? Starting to panic, I grab my keys and sprint towards the door. As soon as I open the door my jaw drops. There’s nothing there. On a normal, non shity day, there would be three doors around me where my neighbors live (whom i rarely see) and sets of stairs on either side. Today, on this shitty day, there is nothing. I look below my feet and see what appears to be a dark endless fall..fall to where? Hell? Heaven? Las Vegas??? Deciding not to take the chance, i close my door and hurry back to my room. This has to be a dream, has to. There is no logical explanation for how something like this could happen. We don’t even have flying cars yet but somehow me of all people gets transported to another dimension? Or Realm? World? Im overwhelmed, I break down and cry, ugly cries. I think about everyone in my life who’s important to me and how i didn’t get to say any last goodbyes or last “I love Yous” or last “I forgive yous” I break down and cry myself to sleep. For the first time I truly felt alone.

    Hours pass and i awake puffy eyed and..alone. But somethings different. I run to my bedroom window and I see the sun shining through my window. Ive never been so happy to see that bright yellow star! I crack open my door and I ca hear my roommate blasting that God awful indie music. Relived that it was just a dream,I look at my phone to check the time and out of nowhere the last text i sent pops up on my screen “I just want to be alone right now, don’t you get that?”

    1. cosi van tutte

      Hi, jaydaward!

      This was a very thought-provoking take on the prompt. I really liked the whole “Oh, it was just a dream” gets turned around by that last line. 🙂 Great job!

    2. Observer Tim

      Isn’t it horrible when your wish gets granted? Especially when it was that one you made in anger. You did a great job building the sense of panic in a negative-minded MC. Very nicely done, JaydaWard. 🙂

      1. Kerry Charlton

        A great, ‘be careful what you wish for’. I used the same theme myself. This is a powerful response and somehow the dream fits because the lesson has already been learned before the dream ends.

  31. Emroo

    He tried to block out the incomprehensible truth that was laid out before him, but the darkness behind his eyelids was indistinguishable from the vast and infinite nothingness that surrounded his small suburban house. It was as if the cold black emptiness he had felt slithering around inside him for months, seeping into every crack and fissure in his soul, threatening to swallow him whole, had done the exact opposite. It had consumed the rest of the world.

    He stood at the edge of his doorway and searched for something, anything, in the oppressive void, until he was struck with vertigo and sat down hard on the floor. Where there once were trees and streets and houses and people and sounds and possibilities, there was now nothing. Nothing but him, and his house.

    And that damn cardboard box.

    The box was filled with ghosts, the last remnants of a lost life. He was haunted by them, had allowed the haunting and all but encouraged it for years. But the night before he had fought against his instincts and forced them all into a moving box, attempting to quiet their never-ending whispers. Then, before the ghosts could talk him out of it, he took the box out to the garbage can at the curb.

    The can and the curb were now gone, had vanished like everything else while he slept, but somehow the box had survived. It sat on the floor in the middle of his living room, the cardboard flaps on top crossed over themselves like angry folded arms, keeping the box closed and the contents hidden from sight.

    He stood up and headed toward the kitchen, needing to put some distance between him and the box. Needing some space to think. But every door he walked through, every corner he took, just brought him back into the living room and back to the box, like some sadistic Escher painting.

    Angrily, he grabbed the box, went to the open front door, and hurled it out toward where the street had been. The folded arms of the box uncrossed, releasing the ghosts. A red silk dress, a tarnished gold locket, a worn paperback book, a framed photo of a smiling couple, a green crazy straw, a deck of cards, a plastic hairbrush, a toothbrush, and a chipped oversized coffee mug all floated out into the ether.

    He stared out into the darkness, long after the last ghost vanished from sight, steeling himself for the painful regret, the debilitating guilt he was sure would overwhelm him. But just like the space beyond his house, there was nothing. Slowly a smile of relief spread across his face. It felt simultaneously foreign and familiar, like a long-forgotten song. He was utterly alone, and finally free.

    He screamed into the void, a jubilant cry of relief and accomplishment, until his throat was raw and his voice hoarse. Then he turned around and stepped back into his living room.

    And tripped over the cardboard box.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Memories, regrets and pain are hard to kill. The idea of the cardboard box is perfect symbolism. Ask any psychologist. They use the box as a symbol to bury the past and the regrets. It never worked with me. The box is still there, part of my life. I know that and move forward anyway. This hit home like a pile of brick falling. You did a beautiful job on this. Bravo!

  32. cosi van tutte

    Sylvia Summershy kept her eyes closed. There were many things that she had to do. Wake up. Shower. Eat. Make a cup of coffee. Take her medicine. Drink her coffee. Get dressed. Go shopping with a friend.

    There were too many things to do and she didn’t want to do any of them.

    It feels good to just lie here with my eyes closed. If I choose to spend the whole day like this, who will scold me? Kevin? No. He died years ago. The kids? No. They rarely came over. The visiting nurse? Maybe. But she isn’t due to come until three o’clock.

    Until three o’clock. Sylvia smiled. Three o’clock is a long time away. I could easily sleep until then.

    She snuggled deep under her puffy down blanket.

    The squealed screech of an electric monster made her open her eyes wide. “What—”

    It screamed a long, sustained note.

    She covered her head with her pillow. “I’m not getting up today.” Her voice was muffled, but the monster’s voice was powerful. It broke through her defenses. Nearly broke her eardrums.

    Sylvia uncovered her head. “Oh for criminy’s sake!” She sat up with gentle care and slid her feet into her house slippers. She shuffled to her bedroom window and looked out. “Oh!”

    A skinny teenaged boy stood on her windowsill. He was dressed entirely in black, except for the emerald studs in his earlobes and the glittery green polish on his fingernails and toenails.

    He was playing an electric guitar, the source of her ears’ agony.

    She started to lift the window open.

    The screeching sounded louder and clearer.

    She stopped. “I’m sure he won’t hear me, but…” She knocked on the glass.

    He stopped torturing his guitar. He looked at her and, grinning roguishly, knocked back.

    “Excuse me, young man, but I am trying to sleep.”

    He strapped the guitar to his back and pushed the window up. “There. Now, isn’t that better?”

    “Hardly. Please close the window and go away. I’ll catch my death.”

    He laughed. It was a wild and careless sound. “You’ll catch your death if you just sit around here all day. Come! You need an adventure.”

    “Young man, I am a woman over a certain age. I am well past going on adventures.”

    “That’s what you told me before.”

    She startled.

    “I didn’t believe you then. Don’t believe you now.”

    “Before? You told me…But I’ve never seen you before.”

    “Ehh, you’re memory’s all cracked up from sitting in your bed all day and doing nothing.”

    “I’ll have you know that my life is full of doing and going and giving and taking. I don’t do nothing. I never get a chance.”

    He shrugged. “Doing nothing sounds boring.” He took her hands.

    And she remembered. Not all of it. Just little moments. Fractions of words. Glimmers of songs. Joy and laughter.

    But she did remember him. “I know you.”

    “I should say you do.”

    “You’re Peter.”

    He pulled her through the open window and onto the window ledge. “Peter the Void, to be precise. Will you come with me, then?”

    “Oh, but this is madness. I am a widow, a mother of six, and a grandmother of nine.” She glanced back into her house, at her soft, puffy bed.

    “Sylvie, will you come?”

    I’m not Sylvie to anyone anymore. I’m Mother. I’m Grandma. I’m so often ignored. I’m so often forgotten in the rush of life. I’m something to take care of when they get a chance. If they get a chance. She looked back at him and smiled. “Yes.”

      1. cosi van tutte

        Thanks, OT, and you’re welcome. 🙂

        This was a lot of fun to write. Especially since I’ve always felt bad for Wendy in Peter Pan. Just because she grew up, she had to be pushed aside for something younger and prettier.

    1. Lucretia_BezBawni_Amstell

      This is such a lovely piece. The philosophy of the last paragraph blew me away.

      The thing I would point out though is the abundance of sentences in a row starting with she/he, like “she stopped…” “she knocked…” “he stopped…” “he looked…” Hopefully, the tip will be useful.

      1. cosi van tutte

        Thank you, Lucretia!

        And thank you for the tip. I’m usually better about reining that kind of repetition in, but I kind of posted this one a little too soon. 🙁

    2. ReathaThomasOakley

      Oh, I just loved this. I’m going to keep looking for more adventures, no matter my age. And, we got another of your fantastic names, Summershy is so perfect.

        1. Kerry Charlton

          This is so different for you, cosi. What an adventure. Inside all women, no matter what the age, there is a child just begging to be loose. But society holds most back. Every now and then, my wife slips into her childhood and when I see the joy and look on her face, I am so proud of her. She still collects dolls, they are everywhere in the house and I love then as much as she does. Forever young is the best medicine a senior can have. Wonderful story, It almost brought ‘you know.’

  33. Trevor

    Word Count: 698

    Into The Void

    When my alarm clock blared me awake, I jumped out of bed and did my usual routine. I hopped into the shower before pulling on a pair of faded jeans and a T-shirt. I scarfed down a granola bar for breakfast. I made myself a cup of coffee and took a big swig.

    Then I looked out the kitchen window and nearly choked on the hot beverage. There was nothing there. Beyond the window was nothing but darkness. No sky, no backyard, no forest that stretched out behind my house. It was nothing but an empty void. I ran to the living room, letting my coffee mug fall to the floor with a clatter. I flung open the front door and screamed as I saw the true enormity of my situation.

    My porch had vanished as well. The door led directly to the blackness that I had earlier witnessed at my kitchen window. I had no idea what was going on, but my first instinct was to call for help. I picked up my phone, but was greeted with dead silence when I put it to my ear. I tried my cell, but it was unresponsive as well. Finally, I ran to my room to my last option: My laptop. I sighed with relief when the screen lit up as I opened the device.

    On instinct, I hit the Skype icon at the bottom of the screen and then clicked on Charlotte’s name. Charlotte Becraft was one of my closest friends. We had met through the magazine company we both worked for as writers. She approached me in the break room and we instantly bonded over our shared love of writing and the mindless lives of celebrities. I knew that, whatever was happening to me, Charlotte would have the answer.

    She picked up the call almost immediately. She was grinning as her camera feed came into view, as if she were waiting for my call. “Hi, Bruce. What’s up?” She asked nonchalantly, unaware of my inner panic.

    “Charlotte….I know this is gonna sound crazy….but I’m nowhere! My house…it’s just surrounded by a dark void!” For a second, I let my fear sweep over me and I had to take a few breaths before continuing. “I-I don’t know what’s going on, but I need your help!” For a moment, Charlotte didn’t respond. I worried she was going to accuse me of being insane and ignore my frantic plea. But then, she finally answered me.

    “Now you know what it feels like.”

    At first, I was confused. But Charlotte soon elaborated for me.

    “You really thought you would get away with it, huh? Well, you were wrong. I know you stole that article from me, Bruce. You used it to get that promotion and just left me in the dust, like I was nothing!” It all came flashing back to my mind. Charlotte had written a great piece on a recent Hollywood scandal while I hadn’t found anything newsworthy to submit. I was desperate, so I stole the article from Charlotte’s computer and turned it in as my own. I felt guilty, but I felt I had no other option. I never even knew Charlotte had discovered my plagiaristic betrayal.

    “Charlotte, please try to under-“

    “Shut the Hell up, you motherfucker!” Charlotte shouted in a venomous tone I’d never heard from my quiet, mousy friend. “You don’t get to justify this. You took away my promotion and now, I have no way of paying my rent. I may wind up on the streets because of your selfish ass! I decided I’d pay back the favor with a little trick I learned from my late grandmother.”

    I couldn’t believe it. Somehow, someway, Charlotte had cursed me to remain floating in an empty, dark void with no apparent way of getting out. I could see from the smirk on her face that she had no intention of undoing her work. Slowly, and maintaining her devilish grin, Charlotte took a hold of her laptop screen and started to bring it down to the keyboard.

    “Wait! Charlotte, please! I’m sorry! Don’t leave me-“

    But without a word, Charlotte closed her computer, ending our chat.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        If I were Charlotte, a dose to lead to Bruce’s brain would clear up his senses. But then she wouldn’t have had the pleasure to watch him suffer. I enjoyed this story and the remarkable revenge used. Goodby Bruce.

    1. Teserk

      I liked the story as a whole. Never mess with someone who can throw your entire house into a void! One part that bugged me: “I never even knew Charlotte had discovered my plagiaristic betrayal.” If the magazine they both worked at published the article, it’s obvious she would know, right? Still, a minor issue for a fun tale.

  34. ShamelessHack

    I’m walking down the hall when I hear a crash through the door on my left.
    I poke my head inside the room.
    A smashed cup is in a puddle of coffee on the floor.
    Jim is leaning nervously against a wall, shaking.
    I come into the room and walk up to the man.
    “Good God,” I ask. “What happened?”
    Jim is shaking and pale, but seems lucid. Whatever’s happened seems to be passing. He points to the window. “I was making some coffee and looked out the window, and…and…”
    I turn to stare out the window. Everything seems normal.
    I look back at Jim. “What did you see out there?”
    He gulps once and says, “Well, the sun was up, the sky was a bright morning blue, and people were walking on the sidewalk.”
    I look towards the window, then back at my friend. “You’ve been drinking again, haven’t you?”
    He looks away.
    “You don’t have to be a doctor like me to know the symptoms, Jim.”
    He’s embarrassed to admit it, but his face says it all.
    “Now, I want you to walk up to the window,” I say to him in a firm voice, “and tell me what you see.”
    He steps up to window and stares for a moment. Finally he says, “An endless black void.”
    I nod and breathe a sigh of relief. Good.
    After another minute he has composed himself and I say, “Come on, walk with me.”
    We go out into the hall and walk in silence.
    At the end of the corridor we get into the elevator.
    Jim looks at me and says, “Bones.”
    I say nothing, just raise one eyebrow.
    “Do me a favor,” he says.
    I’m way ahead of him. I put a hand on his shoulder and say, “Don’t worry, Captain. I won’t tell Spock.”
    Then I press the button that says “Bridge” and the elevator doors hiss shut.

    1. cosi van tutte

      Hi, Hack!

      I don’t think I want whatever he’s drinking. 😆

      Just so you know, this line cracked me up: “Don’t worry, Captain. I won’t tell Spock.” 😀

    2. Observer Tim

      Brilliant, Larry! Even after you named the characters it still took me a little while to clue in. This is a classic upending of the prompt; reading it is a little piece of Nerdvana. 🙂

      But wouldn’t Bones have taken him to sickbay after that?

        1. Kerry Charlton

          Okay Larry, you nailed me good with this one. Duh! I an an idiot. I didn’t even pick up when Bones was mentioned. MNaybe I need a vacation from these crazy prompts. Take a week andon go to Bermuda and chase English women.

    3. ReathaThomasOakley

      Fun, fun, fun, fun! Did you ever see the old Twilight Zone where Jim/William looks into the void and sees the creature on the plane wing?

      1. UnclePizza

        Ha, yes! And nobody believed him until after they landed and there were claw marks gouged into the wing! I think is seen every TZ episode ever made.

    4. UnclePizza

      Good one Hack! And I know what you mean about the prompts. When I first found this site a couple of months ago I skipped quite a few before finally making myself respond “no matter what”. Thanks for the laughs!

    5. Teserk

      I was thinking Twilight Zone when the void was pointed out to be the reality, and then things settled perfectly into place at the word “Bones.” I loved it!

  35. thejim

    That is not my backyard I thought as my eyes fixated on the void outside my window.

    Without hesitation I thrust myself out through the opening into the abyss of darkness. The void was pure and it drew me to it like a moth to light. I could see nothing but yet I could see. The irony of what was and what isn’t melded together. I could not see myself but yet I was there. The void held all information and released nothing. All knowledge was known. My vain efforts to understand the emptiness fell so short but in not understanding there was fulfillment.

    I traveled, not so much though it, but more so, in it. It did not stop, there is no end. Something with the emptiness in its purest form gave me understanding in the incomprehensible. It was euphoric to discover greatness within mediocrity.

    Eventually the void emerged within me; I became one with the void.

    Lifetimes I traveled no ware.

    Then I saw it, clear as I could see nothing. It emerged from a single spot far below. Within that flash of a second I had perspective.

    I speed to it. I need to see the other paradox. I stopped high above could it be? It was me, another me.

    I followed myself for a long time. Eventually I decided to enter into myself. I was me again. I occupied all of myself and felt alive and free within the constructs of myself. Bound by emotions and fears and mistrust I was free, held captive by desires and anger I was free. I was me again, free.

    As we moved along I could feel myself letting go and accepting the reality of the void and all it had to offer. I tried to hold on to myself but the Void was strong, I was to week to fight.

    Again I am the void. I am all there is again. Until there emerged another, from a single spot, I once again found myself. I entered into me again, only to become the void.

    This went on for a eons.

    I realized that I was trapped, how was I to escape? If would create something the void would no longer be a void but would have substance and I would not enter into something, I only enter into the emptiness of nothing.

    I tried to create something I used what I thought to be my hands the only thing I could create was more nothing. I became angry. For the first time I created something, I created anger. Out of anger came rage. Tried to speak and yell as soon as I spoke nothing overcame it and it vanished.
    I feared I would become mad. I was on the verge of insanity when I began to laugh. A welling up from deep within me there came a laugh. A small chuckle grew into a laugh it flowed from me, a sound.

    I was overjoyed.

    As I laughed with joy it was released into the void it became all there was. It grew it became unbearable then without warning the laughter and joy exploded and nothing was gone, and all that there is, appeared.

    I looked out my window, and there was my back yard, nothing was different, so I drank my coffee and got ready for work.

    1. Observer Tim

      Sounds like your MC met the Buddha in the road and managed to kill him. This is either the travelogue on one very strange trip (chemically induced) or the weirdest take on a creation story I’ve heard in a long time. Maybe it’s a bit of both. Totally mind-bending, theJim. 🙂

      1. thejim

        Thanks OT- Normally I am able to rope in and have sort of control of my thoughts. Then there are those times they run rampant and in uncontrollable directions. Image this – I had to cut it down from about 900+ words. Some strange things are lying on the cutting room floor. – Thanks so much!

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I would call this ‘brilliant, automatic writing. Were you typing as fast as you could trying to keep up with the thoughts and did you feel free and easy while doing this?. If so then I have been there and simply refer to it as automatic writing. Many times there is no need to edit, lest the charm disappear.

    2. ReathaThomasOakley

      This is one of those stories where a few words or a phrase at the beginning stays with me right to the end. Here, The void was pure, did it. Very interesting take on the prompt.

    3. Teserk

      Definitely a trip. Only thing that jarred me out of the experience were the occasional switches into present tense. I don’t know if these were intentional–it’s possible, since they would fit the theme of the piece–but my internal editor didn’t see them as belonging, and so the ride was bumpier than it should have been.

  36. dustymayjane

    I push open the window and lean onto the sill. Curious. Without thinking, I reach out with my right hand and feel nothing. How unusual, I thought it was time for the sun to rise. I see only darkness, void of light out my kitchen window. I withdraw my hand and tuck it under my arm. Brrr! It was cold. My hand begins to tingle as if it has fallen asleep. The tingling turns more prickly. It’s numbing. I back away from the open window, now fearing what I cannot see. Within moments the prickles changed to a burning. The sensations become stronger, unbearable. I grasp at my hand and rub. Nothing can relieve the jagged shards of pain ripping through my hand. I turn on the water faucet and am astounded. My hand is now blue and the tips frosty. As water pours over my hand it freezes into icicles. It feels like a million needles piercing my flesh and bone. Coffee! I pour the contents of the freshly brewed coffee pot over my hand and it steams off my now stiff and frozen fingers, dissipating. I watch as the blue, frosty flesh crackles and crumbles. My wrist stiffens and I watch as the bluish tinge creeps along the skin of my forearm. It devours my flesh and I cannot stop the pain or its steady movement towards my elbow. The agony of my freezing flesh has my senses blurred and my mind engulfed with fear. Unable to stop the pain that’s coursing through me, it registers that I have to stop it. I see the block of knives sitting on the counter. In the far recesses of my mind I wonder how can I possibly cut off my own arm? Wanting… needing to stop the unyielding torture, I know that I have to. Reaching for the largest knife in the block, I pull it from its slot. Gritting my teeth against the pain of the frozen void left where my hand used to be and the impending removal of what’s left of my right appendage, the hardened steel blade is pressed against the muscle of my upper arm.

    With a jerk, I open my eyes to a dark room. My heart is racing, my throat paralyzed. I try to breathe but the pain in my right arm is too real. Gasping I sit up and feel my right hand with my left. I began to see a dim outline of my arm wrapped tightly in bed sheets. Relief floods my mind and I began to breathe again. I turn on my bedside lamp and freeze when I see the window open to the dark lightless night, a knife laying on the sill.

    1. Observer Tim

      This is a well done creepy nightmare scenario. It’s not often one sees the dream card played in a satisfying way, but this one definitely fit the bill. You did a wonderful job dancing on the edge of horror. Great job DustyMayJane. 🙂

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I wouldn’t say this was dancing on the edge of horror, but rather deep in the middle of it. There jhave been people who did manage to cut their own arm off to savr themselves. The human spirit is capable of many thing toward survival. Your sentence by sentence of the arm deteriorating is an awesome experience to read. Great response.

    2. UnclePizza

      By the end I realized that I’d been reading faster and faster as I went. Always a good sign of a well written suspense piece. Thanks for getting my blood moving this morning!

  37. Teserk

    I decided to focus more on events, rather give a detailed description of the lock–the 500 word limit being truly limiting in this case. You can see a picture of what I am talking about here. The lock in the story has seven wheels, rather than the three in the photo.

    ______________________________________________________________________________

    “Come on, you blasted thing!”

    I let the lock drop to the table. It made a resounding thunk as it landed. Perhaps not the best way to treat a two thousand year old artifact, but I found it hard to care at the moment.

    I tried to read the clock. Was it really almost seven a.m.? I rubbed my eyes in an effort to help them focus and looked again. 6:52. Bloody hell. I had been at this for nearly 18 hours.

    I moved my shoulders in circular motions to dispel the cramping that had started in my upper back. It didn’t help. I glanced at the cause of my suffering. Who knew such an innocuous looking thing could bring so much pain?

    Rodgers had, which is why he had given the job to me. Being his wage slave sucked, as had listening to him blabber on about the find.

    “I’ve never seen a lock so exquisite. The wheels are made of jade, rather than the typical metal. And see how the hasp is so thick? Probably a secret compartment, right? ”

    I had wanted to hit him. I was the one with the doctorate in Chinese Anthropology. I didn’t need an idiot to point out how a jade Chinese combination lock found in Iran was special.

    “The investors will want to see the contents tomorrow. You can crack this by noon, right? How many possible combinations could there be?”

    Seven wheels, with four characters per wheel meant there were 16,384 combinations. At one try per second, it would take four and a half hours to try them all. At a more leisurely five seconds per try it would take almost twenty-three. On average, that would mean twelve hours, right?

    I sighed, glancing at my log sheet. 13,000 combinations down. 3,384 to go. What I really needed was coffee, or I wouldn’t last much longer. I set a fresh pot to brewing and settled back down at the table. Might as well get a few more out of the way while I waited for the liquid nirvana.

    I twisted the wheels to the next combination and tugged on the hasp.

    It pulled free.

    For such an old lock, the mechanism was surprisingly smooth. Before I realized it, I had pulled the shackle entirely from the wheel. A blast of wind, hot and sulphurous, struck me from nowhere, sending my notes flying.

    “Free! I am free!”

    The voice resonated in my head. Pain like nothing I had ever felt followed in an instant, blinding in its intensity.

    “For two thousand years I suffered. Now you will suffer in my stead.”

    A great pressure beset me on every side, like a giant hand had grabbed me and squeezed, and then… a darkness so profound it was as if everything else had ceased to exist.

    “Behold, my prison, human! Enjoy your solitude.”

    The silence that followed was deafening. It was broken by the only thing I could think to say.

    “Ah, smeg.”

    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      Very creative take on the prompt, and on the genie in the bottle story. And, via the Urban Dictionary, I know what smeg means. Very well done.

    2. cosi van tutte

      Hi, teserk!

      This was an excellent story. I loved this whole paragraph:

      “I had wanted to hit him. I was the one with the doctorate in Chinese Anthropology. I didn’t need an idiot to point out how a jade Chinese combination lock found in Iran was special.” 😀

    3. Observer Tim

      So now I know what the first wish was: I wish I was out of this damned box!

      Oh, was the human supposed to get the wishes?

      Brilliant, Teserk. In focusing on the action you created a fun and clever story. Great job! 🙂

      1. Kerry Charlton

        This was an astounding answer to a brilliant story. To answer Shameless’ question. I have seen Barbara Eden in person. The way she was built, there is no way she could squeeze in no matter the effort. Sorry Larry, dream on son! Think Audrey Hepburn.

  38. rmhoffman

    He tightens his tie, chin lifted, mouth grimaced, repeating a seemingly serious ritual that occurs every morning around 7:45am. The scent of antibacterial soap, cologne, and toothpaste always accompanies. She is close enough to smell him. He tucks his shirt into his trousers, tightens his belt and sits on the edge of the bed to tie his shoes, which are always polished. He always has a remnant of shaving cream by his right ear.

    He turns toward the bed, where she’s hiding beneath a down comforter and leans in quickly. His bespectacled eyes are zooming toward her face . She turns her cheek, ready for the sloppy morning kiss that always leaves her skin moist. Instead he’s searching through the blankets frantically, uncovering and exposing her warm body to the cool morning chill.

    “Found you!” he says, thrusting his arm into air, displaying his cell phone, as if it were a prize. He looks down at her.

    “Love you honey” he whispers.

    “Love you too”

    He turns away, shaking his head. She is sitting up now. She can’t remember the night before.

    He leaves the room, footsteps, keys chime, and the front door slams. Echoes, dust and a sweet hint of peonies. Total silence now, even as she walks on the old oak floor, down the hall, to the living room.
    Morning did not welcome her. She expected warm streams of light to beckon her, invite her to open the linen adorned windows and behold. Instead, dark and cold. The living room is disheveled. His clothes are everywhere. No noise.

    She steps to the windows.

    She moves the curtains aside.

    The night- pitchy ink,so dense it issues a steady, keen chime, right there, threatening to flood the house if penetrated.

    It is real, it’s blinding, and it is vast. Fear sets her knees to a steady tremble and when she attempts to close the curtain, it doesn’t budge. She stumbles backward, back into the hall, into her room.

    Then she sees it.

    On the dresser, it waits. She steps closer. Fading poppies and bunches of withered, peonies, in vases and jars. A framed picture of herself. A folded church program with her name on it. They never attended church.

    Beyond the windows, the darkness calls, low and monolithic. Needy.

    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      Even though I’m not certain what just happened, I am certain the house, the room, the church program, and the flowers became real to me. An intriguing piece of writing.

      1. rmhoffman

        Thank you! I thought maybe I should have given more hints as to what happened to her, but I didn’t want to make it too easy to figure out until the end. The church program with her name on it is actually a funeral program.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I loved the premise, the clues dropped, the darkness. Before the line about the folded church program, I already knew. A very powerful. poignant response. It seems a lot of us wrote about death of a loved one. It brings so many memories. Great writing here.

  39. Pete

    Dragging today, I watch the coffee maker while thinking-but-trying-not-to-think about last night. Marso. What a loser. Crater-faced and cocky, bragging about his polar caps and all. We weren’t even maybe two years in before I could tell that it would never work. Some guys are just light years away from a clue.

    So Mother’s upset. Like it’s my fault. I just want to know what in the Milky Way it takes to find a guy who isn’t obsessed with his own orbit. Ugh, Marso, with his theories and predictions but without the noggin power to save his epic dust storming until the second or third or fourteenth date?

    And I’m supposed to be the dense one?

    Seriously, the guy had the nerve to comment on my mass while laughing about the dinosaurs. Touchy subjects where I’m from, you know? Oh well, I’m better off this way I guess.

    It takes me a second to realize that Mr. High and Mighty is a little late on the come up. I look out to the vast black void that matches how I feel. I’m certainly not up for chores this morning but Mother will get all cosmic if I don’t get to it.

    I take a breath of fresh wind and pull myself together, hearing Mother’s voice, “Not too hard dear, don’t want to cause a stir.”

    I’ve got my own things to do and a lot on my plate. For starters, tonight is date two of Operation Set Terra up with a Decent Guy.

    Dates. Who am I kidding? My mother is a Goddess, getting hotter by the year. I’m just trying to find a guy I can interact with gravitationally, you know?

    But tonight won’t come if we don’t get moving. Crud. Mr. Precious Solar owns the day and the time. Everything will be a mess if there is no daylight.

    Day/Night/Day/Night. I’m feeling polarized. On one hand I‘m kind of in the mood to see things shaken up a bit, but then again the terrestrials will go super doom and gloom if we get off schedule–they’re already spooked. And who wants to see tag along Luna go all total-eclipse-of-the-heart about things? It’s hard to believe Mother’s been doing this job for something like four and a half billion years and only once did she mess up. “Never date an asteroid,” as she likes to say.

    Oh, right, the sun. Mr. Fire over there doesn’t take kindly to playing second fiddle. I gotta get going.

    I step outside, where the stars are tangled up with confusion. Mother tells me again to hurry. I roll my eyes and clear my throat, trying not to think about tonight’s date is with some gassy Exo loser from a private solar system that reeks of pretentiousness. Oh well, they say opposites attract, just ask the Axis.

    I close my eyes and commence with the corniness.

    “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine,
    You make me happy, when skies…”

    I stop, feeling the big fireball stir. I hate that he’s going to make me sing the entire song.

    “You’ll never know dear, just how I love you…”

    Well hello Helios. We’re back on track, and only a few seconds off. It’ll still get some attention with the nerds, but the day has sprung and tonight is on the way. Time for a shower, I have a date you know.

    1. UnclePizza

      Great take on the prompt – and you got the young lady’s voice down perfectly. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess you’re either raising daughters or you grew up with sisters. (Me, I had the daughters.)

      Thanks for an amusing read!

      1. Kerry Charlton

        A fine response, the daughter’s voice is spot on. I ought to know, I have five daughters, all in different orbits and eleven granddaughters circling the universe..

    2. ReathaThomasOakley

      Loved this, read, then reread just for the pleasure of all those references. In the midst of the wonderfulness, my favorite part was: Day/Night/Day/Night. I’m feeling polarized. I’m still smiling.

    3. Observer Tim

      I’ve heard of Hetalia*, but planets? This is brilliant, original, and strange Pete. As I went along I was held in hopeful anticipation of the next weird cosmic pun. I don’t think the MC (Venus, methinks) realizes that setting Terra up with a perfect guy is going to fail – after all, she’s Gaia. 😉

      * Hetalia: Axis Powers is an anime where the characters are personifications of nations.

  40. Kerry Charlton

    GOD GRANTS A WISH

    It wasn’t unusual for Robert to face inky black outside his bedroom window. An early riser plus spring daylight saving time, produced it every morning. But in the darkness, the bedroom light failed to illuminate. As he reached for his small flashlight, also no response. He felt his way to the pantry, grabbed two small candles and flicked his cigarette lighter to no avail.

    ‘Damn did I drink that much last night?’ Then he remembered the visit from two members of the State Department. The words still burned in memory,

    “We are sorry to inform you, your son, Ambassador Richardson, was the victim of
    a terrorist attach on his embassy, as well as six members of his staff.”.

    “Close my world God,” he had begged on his knees. And that was the last thing he remembered. The floor he stood on, then dissolved into thin air but in the darkness surrounding him, he didn’t fall. The sound of his hurried heartbeat and his erratic breathing ceased to exist. Thinking he might have suffered a heart attach, he felt for a neck pulse, but his fingers failed to feel his own flesh.

    However his mind still functioned without his other senses, at a maddening pace. ’Is this what death is like ?’ he thought,” Is that all there is to life?. He thought of Peggy Lee singing the verse. ‘Where is the divine light to guide me, the angels my grandfather never ceased to talk about when I was a child?. Where is my family that’s gone before?‘ He knew his tears flowed but he felt no burning sensation in his eyes or any feeling as they splashed down his cheek.

    ———–

    Rebecca Richardson’s car screeched to a stop at Methodist Hospital Emergency entrance, the call still vibrating in her mind. Robert’s daughter had devoted the last three years to looking after her father. A proud and determined man, he refused any help but his eyes had twinkled whenever she came to visit him.

    Since her mother had passed three years ago, her Father had gradually slid from reality but any chance of assisted living ideas were politely refused. Still she stayed steadfast in her love as she watched her father deteriorate. Three months before, when her brother had been killed, led to a quickening of dementia.

    And with a broken heart, going against her father’s wishes, she had placed him in a constant care facility. He seemed to enjoy their company but then fell further into an abyss. He would image he was still at his own home and refused to believe the attendants. But the call to Rebecca came at two in the morning, her father had lapsed into a coma.

    On life support in ICU, as she sat by his bedside, she held his hand and cried. The emergency nurse has just told her, all brain activity had probably ceased, when his eyes opened suddenly and he smiled at his daughter,

    “Can you hear them coming Rebecca? The angels?”

    ‘Of course Dad, you knew they would. Are in you in pain.”

    “No love.”

    He closed his eyes and smiled a whisper, “I love you.”

    Rebecca stayed a while, sitting with her father. Then she rose beside him and through her tears,

    “I love you also, Dad. I always will.”

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you Teserk, for stopping by. I write the first thing that comes flashing in my mind. Too bad there’s sad stories in a row. I’ll break back into the sunshine next week.

    1. UnclePizza

      Damn Kerry, you trying to get me choked up or what? (And if you did I won’t admit it.)

      This was very good.

      The only thing close to a blemish to point out (and I feel guilty doing so, I liked this so much), is that you might want to rework this one sentence in your “keeper” version: “The emergency nurse has just told her, all brain activity had probably ceased, when his eyes opened suddenly and he smiled at his daughter”. Somehow it didn’t flow (for me) as smoothly as the rest of it. Maybe just replace the first comma with the word “that”?

      Thanks for a great read.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        You think you choked? You should have seen me writing it. I promise sunshine and roses next week. You know, I realized there was somrthing strange about that sentence’s structure. When I reread, I thought, OK. I should listen to my first thoughts more often. You’re very welcome. i’m glad you enjoyed it. .

    2. ReathaThomasOakley

      Kerry, that was so moving. Many years ago a very wise, very old, retired minister said we should take care with our thoughtless prayers. Poor Robert. I do wonder if he appreciated the treasure he had in Rebecca.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you Reatha, I’m glad you caught the reference about thoughtless prayers. My grandfather was a Lutheran minister and we talked about that as well as angels. I write a lot about angels. In fact, I have one sitting on my shoulder at all times, my daughter, Leslie.

    3. Observer Tim

      This is absolutely beautiful, Kerry. If only more people could have that one golden moment to tell those around them how they feel. This brought back the memory of my father passing, bittersweet and lovely. Thanks. 🙂

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thanks Tim, I’ve witnessed this a lot. It seems, the mind fights for one last goodby. It has happened twice to me. Promise a lighter response next week.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you Bez, I’ve been in a rut for a few weeks now, but I told myself, ‘I better climp out of the pit next week and write another love story’, so I promise you that. I won’t forget. It tore me to pieces writing this week because I used real life experiences.

        1. rle

          You know, Kerry, reading pieces like this are one of the things I miss most about not being as regular here as I once was. If I had to describe this in one word it would be “exquisite”.

          1. Kerry Charlton

            You put me on the floor with your comments, rle. Thank you so much for the read and especially ‘esquisite.’

    4. Beebles

      that made my hairs rise, Kerry – too few on my head for that unfortunately. This took me by the hand from the first line and led me through an intriguing story in what felt like a very well balanced and fluid prose. My eyes didn’t skip a word. Loved it.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you Beebles, high praise coming from you. I’ve been in my sad mode for the last two weeks, it’s time to break out in one of my my zany stories this week, so be prewarned.

  41. UnclePizza

    I shall be eternally grateful that I never doubted. I know that when Marshall and Bonnie told us that the spacecraft was coming, and described how we must prepare to meet it, some in our group were nervous. But not me. I knew a day such as this would come ever since I was a little girl. I was ready. Maybe that’s why Marshall asked me to be one of the last.

    We began planning on the eve of the winter solstice when Marshall was contacted by the spaceship. The travelers told him that they were making their way to Earth to rescue us before our planet was recycled, and that they were hiding behind the comet so as to avoid detection. They would be close enough for us to send our souls to them around the time of the coming equinox.

    These last few months have been busy as we continued programming while at the same time crafting our plans to leave. Neither our clients nor anyone else on Earth knew what we were really doing, and while we held great sympathy for them, we felt tremendous joy in our coming salvation.

    Finally, it was time. Hale-Bopp was nearing its perihelion and was at its closet point to Earth. Our saviors had told Marshall that they could board no more than fifteen of us each day, so we divided ourselves into three groups. Bonnie would be among the first, and Marshall would go with the last. He afforded me honor by asking me place the shrouds, and also to disembark with him on the third night.

    That first night was especially poignant as we ate our pudding after our communal dinner. While it was hard not to be envious of the fifteen who ate the specially prepared bowls, we were all equally joyous as we knew that our souls would soon be reunited. In the morning, I placed the purple shrouds upon the fifteen whose souls had traveled to the Next Level.

    The following day’s events mirrored those of the First Departure, and again, in the morning I placed the shrouds on the bodies of those whose souls had traveled to the spacecraft.

    Finally, last night, the rest ate the pudding, although I was to wait a few more hours since it was my job to place the shroud on Marshall. Just past midnight, once everyone’s souls had left, I finally was able to eat my special serving.

    And now it is sunrise, and as I look out the window I see the edges of the world start to fade. It’s not simply that it’s darkening – it’s actually vanishing into nothingness! Each moment there is less and less of it! Now, the void is consuming the yard, now the house, now this room, soon my body. I wait for my soul to leave my body, to go into the void, and rush toward those waiting on the ship. I am so very blessed to know such immensely profound joy!

    1. Kerry Charlton

      The first sentence was strong and perfect to capture anyone who read it. The premise is excellent and your descriptions of the ceremony to transfer souls was dead on and beautiful. The whole story rings a special note.

      1. UnclePizza

        Thanks Kerry. This was one of the few times that an opening sentence came out that I didn’t feel compelled to go back and tweak. Glad to know it worked!

      1. UnclePizza

        Thanks Teserk. I’m not sure what made me bend the prompt this way, and in fact I initially had a different story in mind, but once the idea came to me I couldn’t let it go (or it wouldn’t let me go?). It was pretty interesting trying to try to think like a brainwashed fanatic who maintains “faith” through to the very end.

      1. UnclePizza

        I really liked writing this one for some reason. I think I was just “in the zone”. In fact, I went to bed after I finished the draft last night but took over an hour to get to sleep, I was so wound up. I’m glad you enjoyed it. And thanks for the generous comment 🙂

        1. jhowe

          I like hearing that you were wound up. I would have been too. The girl, with her unending faith, right to the end.

          Have you been published before? I’ve had a few stories published, and I’ll tell you, if I’d written this, I’d be saving it for something bigger. It was really well done.

          1. UnclePizza

            I’ve never published anything, though I hope to one day. I started writing a couple of years ago thinking that I would write a novel. I’ve got some good pieces now, but I have a full-time job that keeps me very busy, so I’ve let it flounder for a while. It may have to wait until I retire in a few years. In the meantime, I’m glad I found this site to get me back to writing at least one thing each week.

            As to saving this for something bigger, you prompted me to think of how to work the concept into “my novel”. I even came up with a minor character and scene to put her in, so thanks for that!

      1. UnclePizza

        Thanks Pete. I debated whether or not to mention HB by name. On the one hand I didn’t want to give it away to quickly but on the other realized that some people might not remember the history and need something to Google (like my 30-something daughter did).

    2. ReathaThomasOakley

      UP, you made that bit of horrific history so personal by making your MC so real. By the final sentences I almost shared her joy, and I consider that the mark of really good writing.

    3. Observer Tim

      As I read this and realized what was going on, a chill ran down my spine. You did a wonderful job getting into the head of someone who held to the cult’s teachings to the very end – literally. Very nicely done take about a dark subject, Uncle. 🙂

      1. UnclePizza

        Thanks Tim. I’m especially flattered when someone describes a physical reaction they had when reading something I wrote. In my mind that’s the best compliment that we as writers can receive (especially amateur hacks like me).

        What I’m most pleased with about this one is how I trimmed it from its original 900 words to 500 (yes, exactly 500!) without losing anything. This site has really pushed me to get ruthless in cutting out anything that does not absolutely need to be there to tell the story.

    4. JosephFazzone

      Wow! Just plain wow! I immediately got a flashback to the chilling photograph of all of them laying on their cots in those silly jumpsuits, the tennis shoes, and the shrouds over their heads. So freaky. You rocked this story, so gripping, and you can hear the ignorance in the MC’s voice. Silly cultist, don’t they know that eating pudding doesn’t a spacecraft make. Great take on the prompt even though it gave me the heebie jeebies!

  42. Bushkill

    Enter the Void

    There I was, sitting at my kitchen table and slowly exiting the Chrysalis stage of my metamorphosis into actual human being, when I noticed it. The dark. It was endless and soul sucking and devoid of all signs of life.

    “Honey!” I yelled to my wife, mate, life partner, alternate example of soul sucking emptiness. Take your pick.

    “What in Jupiter’s name did you do with the power? You forget to pay the bills again? I can’t take this crap anymore. You need to get your life in order, woman.”

    The scathing retort came back from a much closer proximal locale than I had thought, “Ya’ know you could get off your lazy butt and do some work around here, too. I paid the bill. The stub is right in front of your worthless self right now.” She slammed a plate on the table and the toast on it jumped and did its level best to escape, bouncing across the table and skittering to within a finger’s breadth of diving onto the floor.

    “Tell you what, husband dearest, you get down in that crawlspace with a hand torch and see if the wiring you did last summer is up to snuff. Wouldn’t be the first time your workmanship didn’t last the expected duration.”

    “Ah, hell, there’s spiders in there, lover.” I tried to bail on the job, but knew it wouldn’t work and stumbled to my feet. She could be so cold. In essence, just like the black on the other side of the window.

    I grabbed the wrist torch and secured it before climbing into the crawlspace. It wasn’t very big, neither was I, a point my ‘lover’ emphasized whenever possible. It was on the underside of the water reclamation unit and was generally the place in most of these tiny apartments where the wiring was hubbed. I owed my job to the fact that I was small enough to fit into these spaces without ripping the entire room apart. Water was tenaciously scarce and the thought of spilling any of it by removing a reclaim unit made his superiors jittery. It was easier to relocate the family to another room on the station.

    “It’s cold in here, babe, I might need some cuddlin’ to bring me back to life.” I saw the problem ahead of me and only got a derisive snort from my domestic angel, “Let me know when it’s back on.” I yelled.

    I had installed a 3d binary illuminator with several prefabbed settings and a host of custom ones. Whoever had installed it in a unit in D-wing, had screwed the pooch and the thing had shorted, popped the enviro seal on the room, and spaced the inhabitants. I was sent to do a recon, cuz I could fit, and found this baby and liberated it … Quietly.

    “Ohh, there’s my sunset and sandy beach. Come on outta there and let me warm you proper.”
    Space life was tough, but there were things that made it special.

    1. jhowe

      This space station couple certainly has some unusual vibes going on between them, but it makes for some enjoyable reading. Nice job in creating this interesting pair.

    2. ReathaThomasOakley

      Loved this, starting with the first sentence and description of the wife. I got it all, except for a bit of the second to last paragraph that confused me a little. Yep, there are some benefits to space, or earthly, life. Fun piece.

      1. Teserk

        I agree with this comment. I was also lost a bit on that paragraph. Another spot that go me was the “removing a reclaim unit made HIS superiors jittery.” Think that was supposed to be “my superiors.” That said, I enjoyed the setting a lot. Thanks for sharing!

        1. Bushkill

          Yeah, T, i saw that after the post. Changed it in my saved copy, but the post had to stay the way it was … self editing missed that one.

          I was going for a tech piece that would project an Earth scene onto the portals in the cabin so that space wouldn’t be visible but blue sky, beaches, whatever the couple wanted, would be. I try really hard to keep it to 500 words, so sometimes there just aren’t enough left to spend on fleshing out oddities in the story.

          Thanks for the comment and I am glad you enjoyed it.

    3. UnclePizza

      Good one, BK! I like how you melded the contrast between “space-age future” and cheap apartment living. Awesome take on the prompt! (Same editing feedback as the others, but you got that already, so ’nuff said there.)

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I enjoyed this Bushkill, even though I’m a novice about space travel. I enjoyed the ya ya between the couple. It’s not the size that counts, it how you use it or at least that what they tell me.

          1. Penney

            Loved the different ways the couple addressed each other lovingly 😉 something changing with each inflection giving proper delivery and meaning.

    4. Observer Tim

      I love the sense of “Married With Children” meets “Lost in Space” here, Bushkill. It’s a wonderful reminder that not everyone in the future is going to be a super-hero rocket scientist with perfect hair. You did a great job of portraying the lives of the people who keep the averages down. 🙂

  43. ReathaThomasOakley

    Into the Void
    1960

    The young woman knew it was morning without opening her eyes, cars were starting and driving away just outside. It had been late the night before when she’d thankfully seen the motel sign with a neon OPEN and the words, Clean Beds.

    Getting everything packed and in her Nash Rambler had taken longer that morning than she’d planned and she didn’t want to try to find her grandmother’s house in the dark. Now she was glad she’d stopped. The bed was clean and now, as she pulled her robe from the suitcase, she saw toaster, electric percolator, sugar, and powdered cream on the desk.

    She plugged in the coffee maker on her way to the bathroom. After her shower, as pulled off her shower cap, the smell of fresh coffee made her doubly glad she’d stopped. She found bread and guava jelly in the cupboard over the desk and butter in the tiny refrigerator.

    She and her family had rarely stayed away from home, and this was her first time in a motel for tourists spending more than one night. Last night she’d noticed a small playground next to the swimming pool, with tables, chairs, and lounges scattered under the huge live oak trees.

    After eating her toast and getting dressed, she poured another cup of coffee and went outside.

    “Good morning,” she called to the dark skinned woman pulling leaves from the pool with a long handled net, the same woman who’d checked her in.

    “You’re up mighty early, tired as you was last night, thought you’d sleep in.” The woman put the net on one of the tables and walked over. “Reckon I didn’t introduce myself last night,” she held out her hand, “Gladys Tuggle, friend of yore granny. Knowed her all her life, my mama helped bring her into the world.”

    “You knew who I was last night?”

    “You was ’bout done in, thought you needed to get right to bed.” Gladys sat in the other chair.

    “But, how…”

    “Oh, yore Aunt Myrtis tole me they wrote you when yore mama passed, that you was comin’ to stay a while.” She laughed. “‘Sides, you got a cousin, could be yore twin. You got them extra teeth, too?”

    The young woman smiled and touched her mouth.

    “No, my mother…”

    “Yeah, yore mama didn’t hold with, well, she left.” Mrs. Tiggle stood. “You headin’ out soon?”

    “I’ve got directions, just don’t know how far.”

    “Oh, girl, you was tired last night. Just look, there ‘cross the highway.”

    The young woman stood and sure enough, just across from the Tuggle Motel, there was a mail box and the start of an unpaved, yellow clay road between the tall pines.

    “But, I can’t see…” she stammered. “It’s like the road just disappears, like it ends in a black void.”

    The older woman reached over and patted her arm.

    “Don’t you worry none. That’s jest ground fog what sun’s gonna burn off. You aim yore pretty little red Rambler down the road and right soon you gonna meet yore fam’ly. It’s gonna be a good day.”

    1. Observer Tim

      Nice way to use the prompt to move things forward, Reatha. This feels like the soft beginning of a new chapter; why do I get the feeling Mrs. Tuggle (or Tiggle) is steering her down a dark road in more ways than one…? I can’t wait to read what happens next. 🙂

      1. ReathaThomasOakley

        Thanks, Tim, and it is Tuggle. I’ve got a busy few days ahead and wanted to quickly, too quickly, get this up. To explain a bit, this MC, and I need to give her a name soon, is the north Florida cousin, from a few stories last March, who becomes the director of the Hightower Historic House Museum in 1970. The Girl sometimes works for Miz Tuggle. I reread several stories last night, realized I’ve not been giving enough attention to teeth. However, I’m hoping that soon I’ve got the whole thing done. Thanks again. All the comments this past year have kept me writing.

    2. jhowe

      Nice Reatha. You did a great job setting the scene, especially the time period without ‘telling’ us anything: the Nash, the playground by the pool, toast in the room. Then you let the dialog take over and used it well to move your story forward.

      1. ReathaThomasOakley

        Thanks so much. I do try to get the details right and I appreciate that you noticed. Growing up in Florida I was aware of little mom and pop motels but, of course, never stayed in one. I think the Northern tourists would have loved being there.

    3. Bushkill

      Fine writing, Reatha. your dialogue continues to impress. It’s so personable and I feel like I am actually having a coffee in the next booth at a diner and listening in. I also like the way you paint the future as foreboding for now, but in a little while cast in full sun.

      1. ReathaThomasOakley

        Thanks so very much. I love doing dialogue, I’ve been the one in the next booth many times, and just record what I hear. For me, dialogue is easier than narrative. I imagine a character, think who she reminds me of, and let her talk. Thanks again. Now to read what’s posted.

    4. Teserk

      I enjoyed the piece. People sometimes struggle with accents in dialogue, but I think you nailed this one. It appears from your comments that this is part of a larger piece? Maybe that’s where the part about the “extra teeth” gets explained. (That part seemed out of place in an otherwise congruous scene.)

      1. ReathaThomasOakley

        Thank you so much. I introduced a little family, including The Girl with extra teeth, in my first posting 14 months ago. I’ve probably done 40 stories since with some member of that family living in 1960, 1970, or 1905. Now I’m working on tying those stories, or parts of them, together into a cohesive whole, and I’m close to the end of the saga.

    5. UnclePizza

      Excellent Reatha. You’ve actually got me thinking now about trying to put “my novel” together by working it into these prompts. So far I haven’t found a way to do it yet, but I’m really impressed with how you’re able to pull it off.

      On the subject of details, since I think you’re interested, I’m not sure a motel would have a toaster in the room (fire hazard). Also, I don’t think the motels had coffee makers in the rooms back then. (I travel a lot for work and am pretty familiar with hotels around the country and over quite a long time period). Now, some sort of “efficiency unit” might have those things. Not sure if that’s what you meant this to be. If so, you may want to call that out better since I missed it. If not, then it might be something to think about 😉

      Thanks for another great read!

        1. Kerry Charlton

          Reatha, there is not much I can add but to tell you what a refreshing treat it is to read your work. Now I have a question I need you to answer. I am addicted to guave jelly but for the life of me, I can”t find it in Texas. We have oil, cows, beautiful women but no guava jelly, woe is me!

          1. ReathaThomasOakley

            Kelly, because you asked so nicely, I looked and you can order guava jelly from Amazon. Or, you can find it where I get mine at the little place in Yalaha where they make it and also have fresh fruit and veggies, right next to the wonderful bakery. My maternal grandparents lived in Tampa in the 30s and made guava jelly that they sold to the schools. Do you remember the guava jelly that came in wooden rectangular boxes, with a strip of guava paste down the middle?

      1. ReathaThomasOakley

        Thanks UP. Several folks, like Reaper, Kelly, and Amaria have used the weekly prompts to create a larger work. Others, like Cosi and Observer Tim, from time to pull from their creative brains some of the dozens of characters that must be floating there. I know others bring their characters back to life depending on the prompt. It’s fun to see where people take the prompts.

        Thanks for your other comments, but regarding appliance fire hazards, I’m not certain many people would be concerned in the 50s and 60s. That was a time, much like the 20s, before the depression, when families were becoming more mobile. During WWII, there were a good many military bases in Florida and after the war, when the middle class was enjoying things like two week vacations and good, steady jobs, ex-military men and their families were flooding the state each year as soon as school was out. Older visitors came in the winter. (This was also a time when many retirees, many ex-military, were buying homes in Florida.) To attract more tourists, and to encourage longer stays, things like pools, outside activities, and air conditioning were added, and advertised. You are correct in mentioning the larger efficiency units, which could probably even offer a small stove. But, there were also places, mom and pop motels, tourist homes, etc., with things like toasters and percolators in the regular rooms. I added the bread, butter, and guava jelly just because the MC was special. Perhaps I should have had Miz Tuggle bring it to her room, rather than have it already there.

        I mentioned last year that for several years I was director of several small, related history museums, including a historic house. I also have a ton of research on the first major central Florida “highway”, built with bricks. I often revisit the reconstructed section of road that I secured funding for. Those bricks, fired at the same time as ones used for the original road, were found at the site of a demolished building in Tampa. If there is ever a prompt about bricks, or old Florida brick ovens, I’m ready. Wow! This got long, didn’t it. Thanks for giving me opportunity to share information.

        1. Penney

          Fascinating! Just Fascinating. You have done what few things I have only dreamed. I was scrolling for an eye catcher to start reading and maybe comment on and your’s brought the scroll bar to a screeching halt when I saw, “Gladys Tuggle”. Then I read all the comments and I dont think there is anything else worthy to comment. Nice, Great, Wow! Nope that doesnt cut it. Thank you just might.
          Then the refresher on your background, equally, truly fascinating. I only had a dreamy and luckily very extended internship(turned into paying) at our history museum. I assisted on the Lewis & Clark exhibit and DOT exhibit. I made the new flyer for a historic house. I’ve loved another long internship at the assignment desk at a local TV news station and enjoyed years at the college paper filling various positions. But, these although great to me are not the true deal to your experiences. Thank you for sharing your background again. It is nice to get inside the writer sometimes.

          1. ReathaThomasOakley

            Thanks Penney for your comments on story and my over sharing, however, sounds like you’ve done your share of interesting things. I’ve done a bunch of other things, but I’ll save that for the future.

      1. ReathaThomasOakley

        Thank you so much. I can’t always work the prompt into a Girl story, but this was a good way to get the cousin into the action. Miz Tuggle, a friend of the family, often serves to move the story.

    6. cosi van tutte

      Hi, Reatha!

      I really liked how distinct you made their voices. I could just hear Miss Tuggle talk especially in that last line. 🙂

      Can’t wait to see what happens when the two cousins meet.

    7. JosephFazzone

      I love this story. So easy to read, and packed with detail, and most of it comes in a beautiful use of dialogue. I love the extra teeth line, and the way she smiles and touches her mouth. So real, and telling about her character and how she handles her ‘flaws.’ I loved it. I really can’t wait to read more of this story. Awesome!

  44. Amyithist

    I stalked into the kitchen, railing against the vertigo sailing through my head. I was vaguely aware of a throbbing beneath the folds of my scalp, threatening to crescendo into a violent migraine with every jar of my heavy body. I’d been hungover before, but this felt…odd.

    I grabbed the decanter from its stand and filled it with water. I stood at the counter, yawning and stretching and wondering what I was going to do with my new found freedom. As if on cue, I caught a glimpse of the wedding ring glinting beneath the kitchen lights. It was still right where Greta left it. Haphazardly discarded at the very edge of the counter, the diamond tilting precariously toward the floor. I stared at it for a long moment, trying to decipher the torrent of emotions rip-tiding through my body. I couldn’t remember what I’d done this time but I didn’t care anymore. Disgusted, I swept my hand across the counter and flung the ring toward the slider door.

    My eyes traced its trail. The curtain fluttered aside, revealing black. I glanced back over to the clock on the stove. It was ten-thirty.

    “What the hell?”

    I moved through the shadows; realizing for the first time that there was no light coming from outside. I pulled the drapes aside. Outside was pitch black. I couldn’t even see the silhouettes of the patio furniture or gas grill through the tarry space. My stomach knotted.

    I unlatched the slider and pushed it open. There was no movement of air; no indication that I had stepped outside. I turned my eyes to the sky. There was no moon, no stars or clouds or…even a sky. It was just black. Impenetrable. Immobile and dead…

    I couldn’t call it air. It was too thick and slid through my fingers like silk and when I tried to take a deep breath I felt as though I had a cloth covering my face. I felt around. Stretched my hands out in the direction where my grill would be. It wasn’t there. Neither was the patio furniture. I turned back to the house and stumbled back through the slider.

    There was an undertone of sulfur mingling with the freshly brewed coffee as I closed the door behind me. The lights were still on but dimmer somehow. The kitchen looked ashen; as though it had been drained of its color. The living room was the same. Grey. Listless…

    I closed my eyes against the whirring sensation taking over. Something was wrong.

    The smell of coffee began to fade. Gunpowder and copper began to infiltrate the air, seeping into every crevice of my sinuses. I gagged against the intrusion. I wheeled back, grabbing for the counter, but my hands passed right through it. I hit the ground with a thud.

    The black enveloped me now. If there was any shred of my house present with me in the darkness, I couldn’t sense it now. It was just me. Standing in an abyss.

    Questions flooded through my mind. How did I get here? What was this place…or lack thereof? Was I going crazy?

    I closed my eyes. Memories flashed behind them…fuzzy, little white specs of a life I felt further and further distanced from…

    A blinding realization thrusted itself through the fog. I remembered Greta… Greta standing in the doorway while I copulated with a woman I’d just met at the bar. Sloppy and dazed and only vaguely aware of her presence; it wasn’t until she screamed my name that I looked away from the milky skin and wild red hair.

    Then Greta aimed with a shaky hand… I was too drunk to absorb what was really happening. I heard the shot. Felt the world tilt further and further away from me… I thought I’d survived it. When I came to, I couldn’t even find a wound. But now…

    I laid back. The smell of dirt now permeated the air around me. I saw the sky now; starless and moonless but it was there. I moved my arm. Water splashed up around me. Gloriously wet water! Pain seared through me as I erected myself. My feet barely touched the bottom of the slow moving river. “That bitch shot me,” I seethed. The only reply was a cackle from a loon.

    She probably hadn’t anticipated I’d survived. The point of entry was just above the clavicle; left shoulder. But it looked worse than that. “She thought she got my heart! That stupid…” I trailed off. My priority was getting back to shore for now. I would plot my revenge later…

    1. Observer Tim

      This is a wonderfully dark story, Amyithist; welcome back. I’m not totally sure whether the MC really did survive in the darkness or whether this is his fever-like dream as the blood drains from his body. Personally I’m hoping for the latter in the face of the information presented; Greta deserves better than him. But either way the story is a good ‘un! 🙂

    2. jhowe

      Your descriptions in this were marvelous. It pulled me along effortlessly and I really enjoyed it. It kind of leaves the question as to whether he’s alive or dead somewhat up to conjecture. I think she shot him and threw his body in the river. But then again….

    3. ReathaThomasOakley

      What a really, really dark story. Your description of the void was amazing. As others have written, I’m also not certain of his status or future, but it doesn’t really matter, I’m hooked.

    4. Teserk

      I agree with the other comments. Great descriptions–I especially like that you included the smells, as they add a real depth to the environments. I, too, am uncertain as to the MC’s actual physical disposition, and would like to see what happens next!

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Beautiful story and in my opinion the Mc did survive as the river water revived him. But to continue, as he struggles out of the water, his wife steps up and unloads her pistol in his chest and slides him back in the river. At least, that’s my take.

    5. Lucretia_BezBawni_Amstell

      I suppose “she thought she got my heart” could be interpreted both ways in this situation, or am I wrong?) Everybody’s talking about the descriptions, and I join the choir. I’d also like to say that the piece is vivid with plot and action. Love it.

  45. gamingtheblues

    My hair was still dripping, the now cold rivulets running into the collar of my robe and down the small of my back. Wet strands must have covered my eyes, for, I invited the darkness into my home. My face was flushed…I couldn’t think. I still felt the hot oppressing, the enveloping humid embrace of the water and my thoughts were slow and heavy.

    My footsteps felt ponderous, moving through the too-bright kitchen towards that waiting door. The gurgling, percolating smell of burnt almonds, bitter sweet filled the air. I…was I crying? I think I might have been. I pressed my forehead to the window on the door and stared. Swirling stars shifted through the haze. They filled my eyes, flashes of light that caused an ache deep inside me. Unable to stop myself, I lifted my hand, and undid the latch.

    It…it is hard to describe what came next. The door snapped open, rebounding against the counter and I heard a crack and the crystalline tinkle of glass. I thought I heard my name whispered in my ears as I was swept away.

    My eyes in a mirror, blue, wide, then shut.
    The shower again, pounding heat and steam.
    I can not catch my…can not..can not breath, or think or speak.
    My room is shades of shadow, the windows swirling, my hands reaching towards them.
    I want to open them…I don’t…I do.. I

    “Aly…Aly?? Alyson…” The cry rips me from the depths and…

    The sun is shining brightly through my bedroom windows and I can hear birds in the bushes, chirping and clattering through the branches up against the house. Jesus…I could even hear the drone of Mr. Tomilson’s lawn mower. And…Dan..Daniel is standing in the doorway of the bedroom, jacket draped over one arm…his face squirming as something threatens to spill out.

    “Alyson?” And as I watch, his knees give out and he turns to the side and vomits.

    Purple flashes filled my head as the strong…strong and dangerous hands that were still wrapped around me squeezed spasmodically. I wanted to tell him, tell Daniel that I was sorry. But… I’m wasn’t. Not really.

    And so I closed my eyes and allowed the darkness once more to embrace me.

    1. Observer Tim

      I get the impression Alyson is undergoing her dreams as part of a suicide attempt; either that or she’s woken from one nightmare into another, or into a nightmarish real life. The overall effect is disorienting, like a view into the mind of pain. I would have liked a bit more resolution so I could better understand what was happening but the story is captivating and reads well enough without it. 🙂

    2. jhowe

      This one is making me think. I’m pretty sure Alyson has attempted suicide and I think Daniel walked in just as she was dying. At first I thought she cut her wrists in the shower or tub, but Daniel saw her from the bedroom doorway, so maybe she made it to her bed after doing the deed in the shower. Lots of vivid details. You gave us a helpful hint at the beginning by saying she had invited the darkness into her home.

    3. Teserk

      Wonderful, vivid descriptions, but I found them a bit too disjointed to altogether understand what’s happening. I also suspect suicide, but the scene needs just a bit more information for me to be sure. Regardless, the piece resonates with a haunting, melancholy that is very moving.

    4. Bushkill

      Dark and hard to get a focal point to stand on. I like that. It reminds me of “Running to Stand Still” by U2, which i also like. You did a nice job of portraying a character at odds with where they fit, how they fit, and how they are coping (or not) with the world they find themselves in.

    5. UnclePizza

      A bit disjointed, but I sense intentionally so. If this were part of a larger read then I think it would be easier to tie then ends together, but again, I don’t think that’s your goal here. As a stand-alone piece it’s well written to the point where we’re drawn in, earnestly trying to understand. You’ve got us inside the MC’s head, which is always a very good thing.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        It’s my take that when someone hovers near death they get totally disoriented so the confusion shows through the MC. I wasn’t sure she wasn’t being strangled to finish her off.

    6. gamingtheblues

      Thank you one and all for your comments. I truly appreciate the time you guys spent in reading and interpreting my story. Allow me to shed just a small measure of light upon the matter. First, the disorientation and disjointed feeling was fully intentional. Those of you who have read my writing before will remember that I will often break convention to convey a feeling. But…we are all aware I think, of how a character’s actions, and even a story can be as unknown to us as it is anyone else, allowing our own interpretations to color in the details.

      I did not see Alyson dying until I read the comments, re-read my own story and felt it slap me in the face. I can give you one piece of information though, that I did not fully impress upon the story because I was afraid of the content being too much and I worried about the age of some of our readers… shame on me I know 😉

      Alyson was having an affair.

      1. ReathaThomasOakley

        I also thought she was dying from suicide, but after reading your comment I reread and can see that guilt could also be responsible. However, I’m not certain guilt is enough to make her give up her lover. Well done piece that made us think.

    7. JosephFazzone

      I was immediately pulled into the story. I love the way you bring the details slowly to tell the tale. It feels like she killed Daniel, or betrayed him somehow. Not really sure, but the first part felt like the shower of shame, so maybe cheated on him. Either way, very cool read.

  46. jhowe

    I talk to Manchester on a regular basis; likely way more than I should. But our relationship is strong and I hope someday to be able to introduce him to someone special, though I haven’t found her yet. But for now, Manchester and I are getting by.

    So you can imagine my horror, during my morning shower, when I discover he’s gone. I drop the soap and leap from the shower, slipping and banging my head on the lip of the toilet. It would have hurt much less if I’d put the seat down. I wipe soap and blood from my face with a towel. A cursory glance in the mirror confirms my dread. He’s not there, nothing, completely gone. What in the goddamn hell?

    Rushing from the bathroom, there’s a shift in pressure, a darkening, all encompassing. I turn back and the bathroom is gone. Everything is disappearing. I run through the darkness with outstretched arms, terrified that I’ll ram into something but more terrified to stay put. My bare feet glide effortlessly over the smooth surface, the soap from my dripping hair stinging my eyes. I call out, “Manchester!”

    I slow my pace. A fast walk. My mind starts to come around and I wonder about my destination, so I stop. A quick reach-down makes me scream. Still gone! It’s then that I realize I’m walking around naked, in complete darkness. Maybe I’m blind. Could Mom have been right? Uncontrollable sobs erupt. I crumble to the ground, the smooth surface bewildering.

    Slowly, my head spins, around and around as slivers of light emerge. I hear voices, convoluted at first and then they start to shout into my aching head. I try to cover my ears but my hands are bound behind me.

    “You thunked him pretty good O’Callaghan.” I’ll discover the identity of these cops later, at the station.

    “And I’d do it again too. This is 1975, not the goddamn stone age.”

    “It’s streaking, man. It’s happening all over the country.”

    “Well, it ain’t gonna happen in my town.”

    That’s it. The bet. The silly goddamn bet with Gaylord. “Wrap a towel around your head,” he’d said.” Nobody’ll know it’s you.” I’m able to open my eyes a little. The pain intensifies but I need to know. Relief floods my entire being. Manchester! You gorgeous thing, you.

    “I wonder if he’s been in the pool.” O’Callaghan says.

    1. Observer Tim

      The police have got this guy on an RUI, I think (Running Under the Influence). The style of a conversation between man and manhood is an interesting one, and makes this piece both strange and entertaining in a peripherally naughty kind of way. 🙂

    2. Teserk

      Very humorous. The sudden jump from what appears to be a dream state to reality was confusing at first; I had to read it a couple of times to make sure I got it right. That said, I think I knew the MC and Gaylord in college. Yep. Pretty sure I knew them both. 🙂

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I wasn’t sure anyone on the website would remember ‘streaking’. Thus said, I enjoyed your story and the drscriptive prose was especially powerful. Loved the last line the best.

  47. Observer Tim

    CHRONAL EVERSION

    This comes from the same universe as my second prompt response last week, and also ties to my current big project.

    I nearly dropped the coffee pot.

    “What the hell?”

    “Samantha…”

    “Sorry, Sister.”

    Most of the girls around Saint Dominic’s seemed to come pre-loaded with an understanding of what swear words not to use around the nuns; I’m just a slow learner. But I firmly believed something rude was needed here.

    “Now what has prompted the release of blasphemous invective?”

    I gestured with my coffee cup in the direction of the window and what was outside, or rather what wasn’t. A wall of black nothing was located where the parking lot was supposed to be. She immediately crossed herself.

    “Philomena preserve us!”

    I wasn’t sure Saint Philomena would be up to this one. Pushers and pimps, sure, but the whole universe going missing? That would be Holy Ghost work, at least.

    Karen walked in and looked where Sister and I were staring.

    “What the fu…dgecicle?”

    Karen instinctively moved behind me. Like my being two years older and dressing like a man makes me better at anything. I really didn’t want to be the boy at that moment, but I paved over the fear in my stomach with bravado and tried to stay calm.

    “Well, the effect isn’t moving. I hope that’s a good thing.”

    “Did you take anything from Ichi that might help?”

    Of course Sister Agnes knew that Ichi had come to my room last night looking for information about Nancy, and that I’d stolen from her. Ichi looked enough like Nancy to be her clone; that was why she succeeded at seducing me, if not at information gathering. It takes more than a little grinding to loosen my tongue.

    “All I got was this.” I held up a piece of unmarked plastic about the size of a credit card.

    Sister’s look told me she knew that wasn’t the only thing I got, but the rest would be a matter for confession.

    “What is it?”

    “I don’t know. I think it opens a door or something.”

    I held the card and made a swiping motion, and nearly dropped it when Nancy’s face appeared and began talking.

    “Commander, your comm shows you at the center of a chronal eversion– Wait! Who are you?”

    “Who are you? And who’s the commander?”

    “That doesn’t matter right now! Stand back, human!”

    I reflexively took a step backwards, which was a good thing because some kind of plastic abstract sculpture appeared in front of me. Then a beam of light hit it from somewhere that could only be described as being at a ninety-degree angle to everywhere. A ring of light came out the top of the sculpture and swept down the sides to the bottom; when it finished the device was gone and the parking lot was back.

    I dropped the card slash communicator, which had begun to melt and smoke. A moment later all that was left was a scorch mark on the linoleum floor.

    I think I spoke for everyone.

    “What the hell just happened?”

    “Samantha…”

    1. jhowe

      This is full of cool little tidbits and innuendos. My particular favorite was that the complete blackness was a job for the holy ghost and not a lowly saint. And then, after all that happened, the nun still admonished Samantha for some minor cussing.

      1. Observer Tim

        Thanks, John. I’ve always felt that there are times when it’s okay to call a friend of someone powerful and times when you go straight to the boss.

        And Sister Agnes is based on a real person, though I don’t think he’d like his personality being used that way… 😉

    2. Teserk

      Since I haven’t read the other pieces you mention, I don’t have context for much of what happened. Still, this is a tight little scene. You were great at using subtle parts of the internal dialogue to describe the setting. The repetition of the “blasphemous invective” and the immediate rebuke at the end was a perfect closure.

      1. Observer Tim

        Thanks Teserk; I was hoping to include enough to make it stand on its own (though see my response to Uncle Pizza below). This relates to a hopefully novel-length piece I’m working on, though it is a side story. The goal was to capture the characters in as few words as possible.

    3. UnclePizza

      Well done, though I was a little confused in the middle – the whole thing with Ichi felt like it kind of came in out of the blue. Maybe If I’d had a chance to see more of the earlier snippets it would make more sense? Still, a good story and I’m left wondering what’s next.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I’m afraid I got lost in this. Maybe a couple reads will straighten me out. That said, best line, ‘That would be the work of the Holy Ghost at least.’ I also liked the Ring of Light description.

        1. Observer Tim

          Kerry, you are among the lucky ones who will be seeing the longer treatment that this is a side-story to once I get a bit more length into it. I won’t say it clarifies everything, but at least it might make some sense… 🙂

      2. Observer Tim

        Thanks, Uncle. You caught the one piece I had to create for this bit, which explains why I couldn’t encapsulate her properly. Ichi is a major character that hasn’t been introduced in the primary narrative; she is a duplicate (possibly a clone?) of Nancy, the main character of the story and someone Samantha has a serious crush on. The voice on the communicator was also a duplicate of Nancy, just to make things even more confusing.

        In retrospect, I should have focused less on Ichi and more on the fact that Sam stole from her while they were making out…

    4. Amyithist

      I found myself being faced with the idea of our place in the universe. We have an understanding of our role…until something like this happens. LOL
      Good dialogue here. I liked that you kept the tags to a minimum. The use of strong nouns and verbs vs. an abundance of adverbs and adjectives was nice, too. Very strong piece. Great job, OT! 🙂

      1. Observer Tim

        Thanks Amyithist! I’m a long-time observer of the universe and humanity (hence my nom de plume), and I love it when I can share that sense of slightly-confused wonder.

        I am also a firm believer that adjectives and adverbs are like spice, and should only be used where they add flavour to the story. Where word count is important (like modern fantasy/SF) that can sometimes be a bit of a minus, but it’s my style and I’m sticking with it. 🙂

    5. ReathaThomasOakley

      Another wonderful glimpse into one of those universes your people inhabit. Again I cannot understand how you keep them all alive and separate. I really liked the religious references, you know how to incorporate depth with just a few words.

      1. Observer Tim

        Thanks, Reatha! I’m always happy to share the places in my head. I learned to hold multiple universes in my head in my role-playing (pen and paper, not computer) days, where I often found myself having to improv three or four different settings in a week, plus keeping track of my characters in other peoples’ games.

        As for the word things, that’s just mild OCD with a fixation on the language. I’m a grammar and style Nazi, but these days I use the acid mainly to etch my own stories. 🙂

    6. Lucretia_BezBawni_Amstell

      It’s a witty scene and applause to making the prompt your own. It’s amazing how well it fits into your story. I’ve enjoyed the humor most here, because I don’t have too much to go on regarding the plot. As always, Tim, your work is a piece of pleasure.

      1. Observer Tim

        Thanks, Joey. Sister Agnes is the den mother of this collection of troubled teens (her ‘girls in trouble’ as she calls them). That line popped out of her head and straight onto the page.

        I want to fit more in as the prompts allow; these snippets allow me to develop both the characters and concepts of the underlying story without giving too much away. 🙂

    7. cosi van tutte

      Hi, OT!

      There were a lot of good lines in this story, but I totally loved this whole paragraph:
      “I wasn’t sure Saint Philomena would be up to this one. Pushers and pimps, sure, but the whole universe going missing? That would be Holy Ghost work, at least.” 😆

      1. Observer Tim

        Thanks, Cosi. Sam’s attitude here is a throwback to how I initially thought about intercessory prayers of the saints. My view has since become more nuanced, but it was nice to sneak in the old way of thinking. 🙂

  48. Cceynowa

    The Darkened Window

    Sometimes I imagine things. For instance, if I’ve been watching too much SyFy network, I’ll daydream at work how long it would take a three foot mosquito to beak-drill through the double pane of glass and end my misery. Typically, however, my imagination doesn’t kick into Weird World until after the first pot of coffee. Hence my confusion and blossoming worry when I thought (I hoped) I was imagining grey shadows moving outside my very dark kitchen window the other morning.

    Couple of key facts penetrated my sleeping brain. One, I was making my morning coffee, so no imagination (or any thoughts for that matter) had had the chance to form. Two, it was 6 AM, my view should not still be dark. Seriously, it was a routine start to my mornings to watch the geckos soak up the morning sunrays that broke through the city’s smog striking the brick wall located not three feet from my second story apartment window. Living on the North Side had its problems, but the geckos and I looked for the sun wherever we could find it. Thus, the dark void in place of usual sun basking friends was especially frightening. The dark also made my window into a slightly distorted mirror, and the reflection staring back at me was equally disturbing.

    I had been on a 48 hour weekend gaming binge. My thumbs were raw from pressing “A” and “B” on the game controller. My shoulders were hunched under my bathrobe, my eyes were squinted and recessed from staring at the computer screen. It hurt to blink. My eyes had forgotten how to blink. My breath stank of Cheetos and stale Mountain Dew. My reflection grimaced at the state of my being. I needed coffee and I needed a shower. The darkened world would have to wait.

    Twenty minutes later I was back in the kitchen, starting my second pot of java, and wondering about the grey forms moving outside the window. It didn’t look as dark, but those grey blobs were definitely not Geiky, Lizzy, and Jim. (I named the geckos. So what?)

    THUNK!

    Something hit my window. I dropped my coffee cup, sending shards of ceramic and hot coffee through my work slacks. My cursing was stopped by the knowledge that something was now scratching at the window. A creature from the dark was trying to break into my home! Abandoning my kitchen, I fumbled for my cell phone to call my neighbor, hoping he hadn’t left for work yet and could come over to save me.

    I was about to give up hope after the fifth ring when his voice, thick with sleep, answered, “Wa? Kathy? Wassup?”

    “Harold! Oh, God, Harold! Help! Something is trying to break into my apartment.”

    Harold Hoffstein is a man of action. He came bursting through my front door in less than a minute, having not bothered to put anything on over his Daffy Duck boxers. I met him in the Livingroom and cowered behind him as he entered my kitchen, baseball bat raised. Together we peered at the now faintly lit window. The lower left pain had a crack in it, and two gigantic grey rats were fighting on the window’s ledge.

    Harold turned to me, “Dammit Kathy! You gave me a heart attack!”

    “I’m so sorry Harold!” I wrung my hands in embarrassment. “But it was so dark out, and I didn’t know what to do. Why was it so dark out?”

    “Woman,” Harold said heading back through the living room, “get your head out of the computer and check a calendar. Daylight savings started yesterday.”

    ###

    1. Observer Tim

      I can see where Kathy would be a bit high-maintenance as a friend, especially if she does this often. Your style created the sense of weirdness and suspense very nicely; an interesting peek into the head of someone with too strong an imagination for their own good. 🙂

      My only quibble is that the first paragraph kind of telegraphs the mundane end, and the story might be a little stronger without it.

    2. Teserk

      Loved the description of the gaming binge. (Except the “stale” Mountain Dew. Mountain Dew never goes stale. Long live the Dew!) I can see how Tim thinks the story would be stronger without the first paragraph, and on reflection, I concur. One other point that jumped out to me: Kathy doesn’t freak out about the darkness the first time around. See points out that it’s frightening, and then kind of shrugs and heads for the shower. This doesn’t jive for me, especially since she already stated she has no imagination before coffee. Shouldn’t this have been a real concern to her then?

      That said, once she calls Harold the story is gold. Very funny ending.

    3. Cceynowa

      Re-reading… I agree. AND eliminating the first paragraph would put me much closer to the 500 word limit (that I never seem to stay under any longer). Thank you all for taking the time to read and offer words of wisdom.

    4. ReathaThomasOakley

      I suspect there are many people like Kathy who live in front of a computer screen or TV while the real world turns into a black void. I doubt many have a friend who will rush over in Daffy Duck boxers to rescue them, Kathy needs to take another look at good old Harold!

      1. Penney

        Enjoyable story and you got a chuckle with the DST. I felt a little over descriptive with the gaming thing. I sort of remember in journalism you have to write as though no one knows what you’re talking about but here, we should get that the weekend is 48 hours or that the controller makes sore thumbs pressing certain buttons. You could probably use one or the other for both situations.

    5. JosephFazzone

      Great fun. Your character is so well drawn out. And the last line was hilarious. You write her so well, I think you should consider keeping her. She seems like someone who would be the perfect hero for some epic adventure. Great job!

  49. foodpoet

    So I usually do poetry and not sure where this is going but this is what I came up with

    Exiting the marble shower, I grabbed an oversize terry cloth robe, and waited for my morning coffee.

    Uh wait. Shower? Terry Cloth? Coffee?

    Uh wait. Where’s my soaker tub I just spent mega bucks on credit card for? Where’s my silk? Where’s my white jasmine needle first flush single estate tea? Okay so my tea is just lipton, I look around. I have NEVER had coffee. The shower has vanished I am in a tacky room lined floor to ceiling with polka dot linoleum. There is a coffee station and a desk. And the polka dots. I look out the window and wonder where’s the view old or new? No suburbia lawn just black vortex spirals.

    The phone rings once twice. I pick it up. “Customer Service how may I help you?”

    “No help here just wanting to see if you have had your coffee.”

    “Simon?” “Now now you must say Simon Says” “Simon says have a shower, dress in a robe and drink coffee. You have not drunk the coffee.

    You won’t go to round two until you drink the coffee.”

    As I drink and turn into a perfect phone bot. I hate Simon…”

    1. Observer Tim

      This is a bit on the surreal side, which I definitely enjoy. I always wondered how customer support drones were created. Clever concept, FoodPoet, and well executed. 🙂

      Unfortunately, the distribution of quotes in the last 3 paragraphs leaves me a little bit confused as to what parts were said and what parts were thought, but that could be fixed by some physical restructuring of the text.

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