Finish This Sentence #8 – Trapped Inside

This wasn’t the first time I had been trapped inside a _________ , but it was the first time I had to escape in order to save a life. Here’s what happened.

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

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192 thoughts on “Finish This Sentence #8 – Trapped Inside

  1. Red_Armadillo

    This wasn’t the first time I had been trapped inside a train, commuting to work in a sea of stoic faces, but it was the first time I had to escape in order to save a life. Here’s what happened. People think success leads to happiness, that wearing a suit and tie, sporting a fancy watch, and boasting an ego as bright as the tip of some polished black shoes means a person has it all together. We all fall into this trap. We’re all human, always wanting something more because life just isn’t good enough for us.

    Maybe it was because of this longing, this reserved, shared feeling, that I knew her intentions the moment my eyes saw her. She was standing there, alone, with her head down and arms at her sides. It was just her. Long, beautiful hair, fancy coat, classy shoes. Any other day and I would have ignored her, because that’s who we want to be. She was the physical representation of success. But not today. Not when I had spent hours alone in my bathtub last night, toying with the knife, just wanting to end it all.

    The train came to a stop, and I moved. I rushed to the door, the crowd holding me back. I heard the adjacent train arriving, its horn amplified in my ears. I was getting closer, closer, but not close enough. As she took her step, in a moment of time forever frozen in my head, I could only shout to her to stop. And you know what?

    She did, right as the train went screaming by.

  2. JRAM

    God’s Elevator
    This wasn’t the first time I had been trapped inside an elevator, but it was the first time I had to escape in order to save a life, and the life I saved, in many ways might very well had saved my own. Or at the least altered it to the point where the man who enter the elevator, no-longer resembled the one who finally emerged. Here’s what happened.

    I had just finished locking the door to my apartment when I heard the elevator stop on my floor. I rushed frantically down the hall, hearing the elevator closing I shouted hold the door; please hold the door. I made it to the elevator Justin time to jam my hand into the door forcing it to reopen. When I looked inside there was a Muslim lady standing in the back who never budged an inch to stop the elevator from closing. I just looked at her and thanked her sarcastically, “Thank you so much, that was very kind of you, thank you.”

    She never looked up, and seemed more afraid of me, then I was annoyed at her. It had been just nine months since the towers fell, and the Muslims in my neighborhood were having a hard time of it. Especially the women, trying to blend in when you’re dressed in black and covered from head to toe, is quite hard and futile to say the least. Still I wasn’t in the mood to cut anybody slack, you see on September, 11th I had just walked off the freight elevator when the first tower got hit. I was working on the 87th floor with some of the guys from my shop.

    I would’ve been up there when the plane struck. However as fate would have it, I traded places with a young apprentice who was about to take in a material delivery for the job. He would be alive today, but I took his spot, all because I was craving a cigarette. That day a cigarette saved my life. Yet not all of me survived. A part of me, the better side died, the good in me came crashing down, crushed along with everything and everyone. That kid should be alive, yet for the want of a cigarette I walk around tormented by an unbearable guilt. Forced to carry the weight of his death upon my shoulders.

    The cigarette that save me, in many ways slew me, and handed me a far greater death then one of cancer, a death of guilt. A guilt that eats at your spirit and corrupts and blackens your very soul. Nine months later there I was a hollowed man, descending down the elevator shaft with what I considered at the time a rag head. And that’s all she was to me, it didn’t matter that she was well into her pregnancy. All I could think, and I’m ashamed to admit it. Was here comes another Jihadist.

    I stood in front of the doors waiting for the elevator to make its way to the first floor, when suddenly it came to a complete and jarring halt.”That’s just great “ I said to myself. “Just perfect,” as I looked back at her. She seamed worried, and in pain as she cradled her stomach. I pressed the first floor button repeatedly but got no response.

    ” What’s wrong?” I heard a soft and gentle voice say from behind me. ” What happened?” She asked. “The elevators stuck, it’s a piece of junk, it breaks down all the time. I’d wouldn’t take it if I didn’t live on the 14th floor.” “So what do we do now?” “We pray, your good at that aren’t you?” I snapped at her. “So what Sir, you don’t pray?” “Oh I pray plenty, just not to the same God I’m afraid.” She grabbed her belly and let out a sigh, and said to me, with great assurance.

    “There is but one God, and Mohammed is his prophet.”
    ” If that’s true then why are you here stuck with this infidel?”
    ” It is Allah’s will.”
    ” Yeah, well what’s he thinking?”
    ” Did you try pulling the emergency button.”
    I hadn’t, but I pretended that I did.
    ” Of course I did.”

    I hit the emergency button but nothing happened, the alarm didn’t even go off. It was clear that all the praying in the world wasn’t going to get this piece of junk started. “I told you this thing’s a piece of garbage. I got stuck on it last year for three hours.” She let out a deep screech that nearly scared the life out of me.

    ” Lady, you all right?” ” Oh, oh no, my baby, I’m having my baby!!!”

    I turned away from her in a panic and started pressing all the buttons as fast as I could. I heard her back bump against the elevator wall as she’s slid down to the floor. I turned to her just in time to see her water break. And I tell you if you haven’t experienced it yourself, you wouldn’t believe how much water comes out.

    “Oh God I got to get out of here, Sweet Jesus, you can’t be doing this to me, I said to myself,” ” It is incumbent upon you to help me bring my child into the world. Allah the compassionate and most merciful has placed you here for a reason,” ” listen lady I’m not a doctor, I’m electrician. I wouldn’t know how to burp a baby let alone deliver one.” “No need to worry, Allah the all knowing and seeing will guide you,” ” Oh really.” “Yes, yes you will see. Now help me with my shoes and jeans.”

    “Your jeans, what’s Allah going to think; I’m not even supposed to look at your face.” Which I thought was kind of ironic because she kept trying to fix her vail.””Don’t worry it’s Allah’s will,” ” As we got her jeans off I asked her how many children she’s had? “This will be my first child. Do you have kids of your own?” She asked “No, I wasn’t Kidding when I said I wouldn’t know how to burp one.”

    With her head, shoulders and top of her back pressed against the elevator wall.
    She bent her knees, pulled her legs apart and placed her feet flat on the floor.

    “Now when I push, the baby’s head will begin to emerge. You must gently cradle the babies head and guide it out.”
    She grunted, pushed and screamed, with great pain and effort something began to emerge. But it wasn’t its head, rather the baby’s arm.

    It doesn’t take a pediatrician to figure out that something was horribly wrong. I’m not sure why or how, but for some reason I knew exactly what to do.
    “Now don’t panic but the baby is breached. Its arm is out and I must push it back, you must trust me, be calm and relax as much as possible.” “I trust in Allah, you are but his instrument, trust in him and all will be well.”

    I made the sign of the cross and began to gently push the babies arm back in. With my hand inside I began to properly position the head for extraction. As my fingers slid up its shoulder I came to realize that the baby’s umbilical cord was now wrapped around its neck.
    Instead of panicking somehow I became even calmer. I placed my finger tips between the baby’s neck and cord. Gently sliding my fingers to the left, however it only tighten. As I shifted to the right it began to unwind. The baby was free and ready to enter the world. I instructed her to breathe and push.
    As she did a Beautiful baby boy came into the world. I gently held him in my hands and fell in love.

    “It’s a boy, sweet Jesus it’s a beautiful baby boy. Look how beautiful.” I said as I past him to his mother. She cradled him in her arms.
    “I told you, all would be well; did I not? Today you were an instrument in the hands of the almighty. Praise be to Allah, Praise be to Allah.”
    The elevator began to descend, as it did something good in me was reborn. When it finally came to a stop I managed to pry the doors open and make my way out. As I went for help, she asked me my name. I replied Hernandez from 14 B. She said. “No, your first name; for the child.”I told her, ‘JESUS.” She just smiled. As I made my way down the hall I could hear her softly say To her baby. “Allah Akbar, Allah Akbar, Allah Akbar.” It never sounded so sweet. Months later I ran into her and her husband in the corridor of are building. She introduced me to her husband and her brand new boy who they named, Yasu the Arabic name for Jesus. All I could thing was, sweet Jesus, God surely is great.

  3. Newtside

    This wasn’t the first time I’d been trapped in the dark, but it was the first time I had to escape in order to save a life.
    First came the hot, hard panic. I had to shove that down low, as low as it could go. I waited for a few seconds.
    Alright now, where are you?
    I felt around with my hands. It was cold, it was cramped. I gave it a knock.
    Goddamn it…
    They had finally found me.
    “Ah, Mister Petersen, it seems you are awake!”
    The voice had no soft edges; it felt like sandpaper.
    “Please, make yourself comfortable! We have made your sweet cousin a nice bed!”
    I could hear his smile. It was wretched.
    “This bed, however is not too soft, Mister Petersen. It is a hard bed. One that will be missing in an hour.”
    The smile I heard turned to a sneer. I wanted to wipe it from his face.
    The sneer began to leave.
    “One hour, Mister Petersen! Let’s see how much you care about your sweet, dear cousin!”
    The panic was back. I hated that panic, I pushed it down. I needed to get my bearings, and quickly.
    No handcuffs, no manacles on the legs. Just a locked box and my cousin is about to die. I felt around for a key.
    Idiot.
    I kicked at the back of the lock.
    Idiot.
    Alright, let’s get this box rolling then.
    That’s the first good idea you’ve had in ages.
    I kicked at the top of the box, I tried to shift my weight so that the box would roll onto a side. I kicked for what felt like hours, and eventually the weight in the box shifted. I kicked again, it shifted further. I kicked once more, and it flipped on me.
    How’s that head feel, Petey?
    It had struck something hard, something very hard. The heat of my breath was getting to me as well.
    Bet that smarts, eh Petey?
    I pushed it down. I kicked at the bottom of the box, hoping that it was weaker than the rest of the box. I knew how to do this. I knew, damn it! I heard something rip.
    I knew it was something outside of the box. I kicked harder, and the sound became louder. It felt like a door was opening! I was free!
    Hey, Pete, I know you don’t want to hear this, but…
    There was a loud tearing sound and an explosive crash outside the box.
    I heard cackling from outside the box. The sneer was back.
    “You had an hour, Mister Petersen! You have failed!”
    I heard a clanking noise, then my box began to move.
    The sneer turned into a smile again as it laughed its way out of the room. My box moved up and up and up.
    Hey, Petey, I can’t believe that this is where it ends. I knew you’d kill us eventually.
    There was a loud tearing noise, and the box dropped.

  4. mayboy

    A File for the Generation to Come

    #This wasn’t the first time I had been trapped inside the file of dark web, but it was the first time I had to escape in order to save a file for the generation to come.#

    Surfing the web, exploring the newest invention in the field of technology, an article “The drone spider” caught my eye, not for the insinuation but for the cradle, gently drawn in the back, visible only to an attentive reader. I knew there must be more behind so I kept digging in. Suddenly, the first obstacle appeared on the screen, a password which was unknown to me. And using the tracker didn’t help a lot. There was no way to join to particular group of dark web users without being the part of their community. Or was it?

    “Think, think, what the password link should be!” was persuading me my Ego.
    And I didn’t have a clue.

    “Try to find more, search everything in connection with these three words, especially the last one,” Ego was feeding my research hunger.

    I couldn’t resist going deeper. In my mind, I went through every possible association relating to the word cradle, and it didn’t work. Without a bypass, I stuck on my chair, not knowing what to do the next; I didn’t want to give up.

    “Two more words to explore and expire,” my determination wasn’t undermined although the options seemed slim.

    “Check out the possibility of surpassing the obstacle,” was the latest Egos idea, “torn between two or even three won’t bring you closer to the problem.”

    My Ego was right; I was far away from the solution, and the confusion was in a domain in the surrounding. I had to shut down my Ego; surprisingly he did not resist. Without hacking into the files, it was important to me to copy and save that file. I sent it to my email box under the name, memorized only in the left part of my brain.
    After the job was done, a shadow of the drone spider surprised me. I had to hide. The decision I took was to crawl through the air condition ventilation; there wasn’t enough time to close the window, the danger was too close. After the escape, I wasn’t sure what to expect. On my way home, I was squeezing the spray in my hand in the case of an emergency or unexpected encounter:
    “Should I use this “Frozen Spray”?

    1. JRSimmang

      Hoo, boy. I must admit my ignorance on this topic. Programming is a whole new, anxiety-ridden world for me. You’ve enumerated my fears about the web, but have done it in such a way that I learned something. I do want to know what was in that file; something tells me it’s important.

      Do be careful of word omissions and the past progressive tense. It can get repetitive. The tension in this piece is palpable, and I think you maintained the pace well.

  5. Gesualdadelmare

    This wasn’t the first time I had been trapped inside the time bubble, but it was the first time I had to escape in order to save a life. Here’s what happened.
    I started as a time cleaner, 10 years ago, when a regular Quantum Mental and Physical check up reveled my outstanding abilities for time penetration. I have been practicing amateur time bubbles penetration for quite a while at that point, but getting an official confirmation of my talents, finally made me decide to join the Quantum Cleaning Forces , and become one of those admired and hated soldiers, also called time cleaners, or quantum hoppers.
    Our department was created when the ripple effect, that had been puzzling and exciting scientist for two centuries was solved. “God, indeed, does not play dice”. The future starts, and evolves dynamically from the past. The famous bouncing-droplet experiment few centuries ago , in the early 2000s, was the beginning of the discovery of cause and effect phenomena, that made the humanity realized that everything in the universe has been predetermined by previous series of events, or even one single event at a certain given time along the timeline.
    Quantum Forces hired few gifted people like myself, and connected to a AI universal quantum information device, we can visit so called time bubbles, to make minor changes in the environment in order to prevent cataclysms and other unfortunate events on the Earth Colony CC 545. AI device establish the state and time of events calculate changes to be made there and we execute the order. We were seen as saviors or destroyers, depending who was looking at the final result of our manipulations. We could prevent two universal conflicts, and asteroid collision. Thats exactly what I was going to do this time out in the bubble. A huge asteroid was about to hit the Colony In a few days. Something prevented us from detecting the asteroid proximity on time, and the only way to escape it , was to change something on the past time line, visit the time bubble when its all started.
    So technician connected me to the Time Surfing device, I took a deep breath, set my mind empty and started my duty.That day I was alone, My mind was set, I felt familiar calm, and sensation of endless space, while device was penetrating my mind and mind becoming one with the intellect far superior than any human being have ever had. Sometimes out there, I had to meet a person for a convincing talk, sometimes, give a candy to crying baby, often , It was something strange, like placing a red balloon on a bridge. I open my eyes, I was there. On the mountain wind was blowing. I was ordered to clear a small space on the rocky mountain ledge, I also had to put some small rocks in a certain way, and cut and toss one of the bushes. It was all done and I was sitting, or my mind was sitting there waiting to go back to my real body, when a young boy popped out from underneath the mountain cliff, he was struggling trying to rich the balcony, and his right hand was frantically searching for something to grab. I froze. No instruction was given about this boy prior to my mission, and in no circumstanced was I advised to act out my head , or getting in contact with anybody without machines authorizing it. I was petrified and struggling with the heartbreaking urge to help. What consequences will it have for my time ? What if nothing will be the same when I am back? What if I will not even be able to go back? I was sure that I had to escape this bubble and leave the boy where he is, may be to die , in order to save many people in my bubble of the time line. I was called to save them and not this unknown boy. Struggle between the instinct to help, and a responsibility for my own world, was unbearable. Then I extended my hand. He grabbed it I pulled the boy with force to the ledge. He was small, 14 or even less. Hands bloody from climbing, dirty dark hair. His eyes were full of fear and gratitude. I stared at his eyes for another moment , then all disappeared. I was back.
    At my return, my planet didn’t change, no person or place looked different. The only thing that changed, was that the asteroid was no longer in space to hit the colony, it was successfully discovered and blown up when it was still far away from us by a heroic group of astronauts and scientists.

  6. frankd1100

    This wasn’t the first time I had been trapped inside a secured area with a precious item stashed in my back pack. But it was the first time I had to escape in order to save a life. Wearing surgical scrubs, borrowed from a bin as I entered the hospital through a rear delivery platform, I made it to the seventh floor lab area. In the rear corner was a ten by ten, glass walled refrigerated room with rows of steal freezer doors on either side. They looked like the morgue doors on a t.v. crime show but smaller. The frozen human kidney I’d found behind door #7, was in my back pack.

    I was halfway there when the middle elevator door pinged and slid open and a tall woman in a white lab coat, strode purposely into the corridor speaking loudly into a cell phone. She seemed to be reading from a document while holding the phone to her ear with her hunched right shoulder, but stopped when she saw me reaching for the closing elevator.

    “Excuse me,” she said, startled, fumbling at the phone slipping from her ear. Her ID read, Dr. K. Noonan. “What are you…”

    “Sorry, Dr. Noonan, I’m running late,” I said, interrupting her. “There’s a delivery on the desk for Dr. Scranton. The white box.”

    Her expression eased, seeing the box (I’d left as a diversion), on a desk at the end of the room. The doors slid closed as she looked back, trying to place me among the staff who had reason to be in her lab. Keeping my eyes from the cameras, I stripped off the scrubs, donned a Red Sox cap and exited on the lobby level. I joined the throng of workers reporting for early shifts and worked around to a rear, less used exit from the hospital. Relaxed security people had not yet been alerted of an intruder.

    Two hours later I sat in the sun at a table outside a coffee shop near a building going up in Kenmore Square. I wore a dark t-shirt, jeans and construction boots, a hard hat lay on the table before me with a small, red Igloo brand cooler between my feet. I looked like another construction worker except instead of lunch, my cooler contained a frozen kidney.

    “Stevie!” I looked up as a large man, dressed like me, slid in across from me placing a yellow envelope on the table. “How are you, Cousin,” he said, a broad smile lighting up his rugged Irish face?

    “I’m good Kevin. How’s Uncle Mike,” I asked, sliding the cooler between his feet.

    “Just came from dialysis, so he’s feeling OK. Five or six cars down on your left. He wants to know if you need anything?”

    “I’m good Kevin. Give him my love.” I picked up the thick envelope and left the table. Kevin would wait five or ten minutes before leaving with the cooler. I hope it worked. Uncle Mike was good to me.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Man you got my heart pumping with the first paragraph and it,’s still pumping as I write this. What a gutsy thing to do, steal a kidney right under the nose of the doctor and how he kept his poise is the meat of the story. The idea that he did it for money didn’t bother me, I think.he probably would have done it without the reward. A late story but A damn good one it is.

    2. JRSimmang

      Assuming false identities is a way of life, is Uncle Mike a pseudonym or the actual identity of his uncle? We can also assume nothing about this character’s motive, which I like. I still don’t know if he’s a good guy! Nice job ramping up the intensity and solidifying Stevie as a likable character.

      Some points: tighten up your narrative by showing us the scene: “My toes were cramped in the steel-toed construction boots…” And, there’s no need to put question marks at the end of statements (“He wants to know if you need anything.”)

      I really enjoyed reading about Stevie, and I’m curious if he’s going to show up again.

  7. Ari_The_Sans_Fangirl

    Ah home, the place where everyone is well… at home. Unfortunately for people my age, we’re going back to school. Y’know, the place where barely anyone makes it out alive? Or maybe happy is a better word. Actually, I would be happy to get out of school. I think you get what I mean.

    People think I have it all, good family, lots of friends, relatively good grades… alright that one’s not true they’ve been going downhill. But I guess I’m just a good liar cause I know that really half the people I’ve ever met at school… are just using me.

    No one likes me for me. They like me for the sweet, smart, slightly attractive exterior i put on to make them think I’m normal. But really, I’d just rather stay on my bed all day watching YouTube instead of going to their latest event. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not exactly an introvert, I’m just too gullible.

    “Hey! Could you help me with this math question? I don’t understand it.”, they would ask.

    “It’s simple, you just round the…” I explain very easily in ways that anyone could understand… except them.

    It’s not my fault they’re idiots! Except they aren’t. In the end they make me do their work for them and I’m told to be the class idiot even though I’m the one who did everybody’s work!

    Now I don’t know who to trust… are they just manipulating me? Do they know the real me? Do they like the real me? I’ve learned that usually its yes, no, and no. Or yes, yes, and no. Either way, I’m too scared to do anything.

    I don’t really care about them but I don’t want to hurt their feelings. For now I just have to sit back and see how things go. I mean, this wasn’t the first time I’ve been trapped in a social situation, but it was the first time I had to escape in order to save the life. And that life is mine.

    How much longer do I have until my sanity is gone? Not sure. How much longer until I’m gone? I don’t know. Did I ever have any sanity? I have no idea. Can I be saved? Beats me. Am I the only who can help me? Well, if no one can be trusted, yeah, probably.

    Its like a play, knowing it will end but not knowing how even if you’re watching it live. But if someone is out there, someone reading this who can help me with anything, help me feel anything, save me. And save me quick. Because like i said…

    I don’t know how much time i have left.

  8. WriterJansen

    This wasn’t the first time I had been trapped inside an unresponsive body, but it was the first time I had to escape in order to save a life. Mine. Here’s what happened.

    I was pushed from the ledge of my apartment roof. I should have been dead, but I’m not. When the EMT’s arrived I was declared legally dead. My chest was silent, my heart equally so. I, as a vacant bystander, wouldn’t accept it. I still had lots to do with my life. For one I still needed to seek revenge on my counter assassin. First she took my target and then my life.

    So, as they readied the body bag I somehow found the will to connect myself with my body again. The automated external defibrillator that was still connected to my bare chest noticed the change. It detected my heart beat. The paramedics were quick to respond and the ambulance’s sirens blared as they transported me to the nearest hospital.

    There was still something wrong with my body though. I wasn’t in control. Not yet anyway. I said once before that I was trapped inside an unresponsive body. That was only two weeks ago. I was shot with a disabling tranquilizer, rendering my body helpless as I screamed my head off inside. I had to wait excruciatingly as the hours ticked by until I could mobilize parts of my body. That fluid was designed to kill me, but yet here I am because I am not an ordinary man.

    The fall has broken most of my bones, but I can hear them healing. The click of the door distracts me, I can feel my muscles respond to the tension. I recognise the tread of my doctor – a cursory check up – and relax again. By the time he exits I can move my eyelids. My eyesight is still perfect, that’s good, because I know she’s coming for me.

    I enter a transcendent state, a technique I learnt from a sage in the remote mountains of Japan. It allows me to access parts of my brain that actively heal, but it places me at risk. I am vulnerable.
    I curse internally as I hear the way her fingernails tapped methodically against the window. And there she was, my wife perching on the window ledge.

    “Hello, Honey, I’m home…” she taunted. She hopped inside, and I still marvel at how resourceful and silent she is. Like a cat.

    I loved her. I would have forgiven that she stole my contracted target, but the tranq dart followed by our little accident was taking it too far.

    “You know it’s just business right?”

    Clearly. For her.

    “I’m sorry about what I’m about to do.”

    Three.

    “I still love you.”

    Two.

    “So it pains me…” she retracted her silver knife from her inner thigh.

    One.

    “To kill you.”

    I entered my body and flew up in a billow of sheets. She gasped as I deflected her knife into her own torso. “Goodbye, Honey.”

  9. SargentBlaum

    This wasn’t the first time I had been trapped inside a hydrogen air membrane bubble, but it was the first time I had to escape in order to save the world. Here’s what happened.

    Dr. Zog was conspiring to agitate the super-volcano beneath Yellowstone, using powerful resonant infrasonic waves and so I had been assigned to infiltrate and sabotage his project facilities in a field out in the middle of nowhere in Wyoming. His operation was remote, and so I thought I’d be able to parachute down without notice. I’d just bundled up the chute into my backpack and made my first circuit of the facility when I spied the black cloud rising from the facility and a sonorous voice bellowing forth in a tone that suggested bored malevolence.

    “Surrender or be subjected to lethal force.”

    “Yeah, why don’t you come over here and say that to my face,” I said, rapidly withdrawing from the drone swarm intent upon my apprehension. The evil black machines, armed with infra-red lasers and twin cameras paused at some invisible boundary. I dug in my backpack for an EMP grenade, pulled the pin and lobbed it over at the nearest flying device. I should have then rapidly retreated, because the grenade took out the swarm and left me with a dizzying concussion from all the gadgets wired into my brain.

    I came round in this horrible trap. The hydrogen air membrane bubble is two concentric transparent spheres: the inner one filled with air, the outer with hydrogen, sized to lift a human mass object to a rather unpleasant altitude.

    Bereft now of my backpack, I located my knife, concealed in my boot, but I knew that I was going to have a rough time making this work, so I activated the implant in my brain that would flood my system with adrenaline and any surviving nanobots to give me supernatural strength and reflexes for long enough to carry out the remainder of my mission.

    Carving a parachute out of that material whilst falling to earth is not something covered in the survival manuals, and I do not recommend it. I was able to manage just barely in time. I used the improvised chute to capture some of the drone swarm that rose to eliminate me, and by swift punches, I was able to break the antenna on those drones, but the chute was torn up in the process – I fell the last fifty feet or so without resistance.

    Rolling as I landed helped, but I knew that my left ankle was done for, and possibly tendons in the right leg were egregiously overstretched. I grabbed up a drone that lay disabled nearby and ripped open the maintenance cover, locating the manual control panel inside. I had it emit intruder alerts with a destroy at all cost code and then limped for cover. The explosion that comes from hundreds of drones all pummeling one spot on the roof of a facility is quite spectacular. The facility was toast. Mission accomplished. Not that mattered much to me – I was unconscious again. Who else could get paid so much for lying down on the job?

    1. JRSimmang

      Sounds like that’s the last we’ve heard of Dr. Zog. Or, is it?
      Solid piece of sci-fi. I’m curious about the air filtration in the hydrogen bubble. It’s an amazing artifact of imagination, and I’m curious about its machinations. Also, the MC is entertaining, a sort-of Indiana Jones meets John McLane.

  10. typewriter

    (PART 2)

    The gaseous poison was slowly shutting down—all the ventilation fans began kicking on. What…I thought this was the end, my finale. John Brenner on-the-other-hand was slumped in the chair, with his hand at his chest. I thought he was having a heart attack. My God.

    I saw an avalanche of tear gas spreading in a tough cloud at the big chamber window. The men in the black suit with blue ties and Kipper had disappeared in it. Flashing light flooded the warehouse. The calvary. Were we being saved? Why? How?
    John Brenner craned his neck to the side to look at me, “No worries, sonny. It’s not a heart attack, just my Panic Button. I pushed it right away once the chamber door closed. We are saved.”

    “Panic button?” I said.
    “Yeah, something I invented. It’s rigged to a system. So, once It’s pressed. No matter where I am. Someone comes. I pushed this little red button right here, and it triggers a life support team.” He said.

    He’s shown me the little red button on a remote around his neck. “I never knew you had cleverly made something so precious. Good thing you had, or we would have been dead meat… Come clean with me. Why did Kipper kidnapped and brought you here?”

    “It was a long time ago, back when I was still a creative writing teacher. I gave the notorious Kipper Stovington an F for plagiarism. He turned in a short story called “The Silent Moment.” After reading it, I concluded the plot was like Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart, just under a different title. You see, Kipper nevered wanted to learn writing. He says ‘it’s too much pressure.’ Yeah, he maybe right. A writer’s life is never easy. But, the more you learn writing, the better you’ll get to become emerging authors. I advise my students to write flash fiction. It’s concise enough to maintain your ability, to build up your comprehension, to write professionally. Then write longer stories. You’ll be a New York Bestseller novelist in no time.

    “You always told me to ‘read a lot and write a lot. Write with the door closed then rewrite with the door open’ [sic].” I aforementioned.

    “Absolutely. I gotten that from Stephen King’s On Writing book. Read it thousands of times, still do. The book’s so badly worn and the cover so frayed. I keep it in a cabinet with my unpublished stories, there’s fifty stories total in a folder and some written down in Moleskine notebooks. Thanks to the Master of the Macabre, I’ll never would have taught myself and to pass the torch to my fellow students. Writing does not need to be taught but to be learned. It’s not rocket science. I’m not asking you to be anthropologists. I’m telling you to be pencil-pushers,” Mr. Brenner said.

    “So, I nearly died because of plagiarism,” I said.
    “I’m afraid so. I truly feel vindicated.”

    A man in a full, obsidian-colored SWAT suit and respiration mask comes in the GAS ROOM. He takes off the mask, “I’m Nathan Wesley. You guys all right?” the guy greeted cordially.
    “We both are fine. Mr. Brenner here needs medical attention,” I requested.
    “Thanks. Don’t forget. I want a 500 word essay on what occurred. Be sure to turn it in to me by Friday,” John said jokingly. Then winked at me.

  11. Jennifer Park

    This isn’t the first time I’ve been trapped inside a Pokéball, but it is the first time I have to escape in order to save lives.

    Here’s the thing. You humans think we Pokémonkind just roam around the forest care-free and meaninglessly until some trainer comes along to unlock our potential. Ha! What, you think we evolved these incredible battle powers to collect nuts and berries, and hull hard-shelled seeds, and bed our nests with twigs? Please!

    There is a terrible war waging in the Pokémonworld. Sure, there has been a lull in the action for a few dozen years now, but it is only for the warring sides to gather up their strength and refine their tactics. Forge new alliances and lay claim to critical resources. And, tomorrow, Suicune and other second-rate legendaries are going to launch a major offensive with the unwitting help from their witless trainers.

    And I must break free and warn my comrades.

    The thing about Pokéballs is that the longer you stay in here, the more you become complacent. Lose your free will. That is what happened last time I was trapped, and it was only because my trainer was a completely incompetent newb—if incredibly lucky—that I was inadvertently set free.

    This time, I made sure I had enough reserve strength left before I was “trapped”. Little does this snot-nosed idiot know that, within a few hours, I will be able to break free.

    The thing is, it’s actually quite nice in here. Plush interior. Comfortable lighting. Nutritious and tasty nourishment.

    Freedom from all that noise about the upcoming human elections.

    It is so easy to get used to this lifestyle. Close your eyes, drift away into stasis, and time just floats by…

    But, no, I must leave. I can feel my energy building up. I can feel my power reaching that critical point where no Pokéball can hold me.

    And it’s so nice here… I mean… I can just stop caring about lives… history… future…

    Who cares?

    Dang…

    1. Kerry Charlton

      I liked your story a lot. You took me through the whole process and the story flowed nicely
      Loved the sentence,”Plush interior, comfortable lighting, Nuttricious and tasty nourishment
      Lovely tongue in cheek story.

    2. frankd1100

      Jennifer, Matter-of-fact fantasy. Like it’s normal and real and of course we accept the premise. Timely metaphor for the subtle wiles of addiction as well. Excellent piece.. creative and finely crafted. Thank you.

    3. JRSimmang

      Man, that takes me back. My brother and I would argue about what the inside of a Pokeball looked like. I always thought the little fictional animals were kept in some sort of stasis, free floating in interdimensional space. My brother always thought it was some sort of idyllic Eden. Looks like we were both wrong.
      Also, what an accurate commentary on our society today. We get so comfortable in our own Pokeballs we don’t realize there’s a whole new world out there to explored. Read Graham Lewis’s and Turkey Girl’s responses for companion pieces.

  12. pven

    This isn’t the first time that I’ve been trapped inside a plummeting elevator, but it is the first time that I’ve had to escape in order to save a life. Hand me the duck.

    What do you mean, “what duck?”
    The duck.
    The DUCK!
    It’s always in the elevator. Right where…
    You’re standing…

    What does it look like I’m doing? I’m taking off my shoes.

    To count my toes.

    It’s a reality check. To make sure I’m dreaming.

    Sometimes I do, yeah. …eight …nine …ten. Shoot.

    No. Right number. This is real. OK. What do we do? What do we do? OK.
    OK.
    Let’s press the floor numbers.
    They’re not lighting up. Nothing’s lighting up. This thing isn’t stopping. Press the alarm…

    Well, at least that thing’s working.
    Not waking me up, though. Still hoping something’s going to wake me up.
    Think. Think. What would the duck do?

    That’s right! There’s an emergency brake on the roof of this cab!

    Fine. Then gimme a boost.
    Hold still! It’s not easy to open this when you’re moving around like that!

    Got it open! Push me up higher so I can get through!
    “AFLAC!”
    Oh, I never thought I’d be so happy to see a freaking duck!

  13. rlk67

    This wasn’t the first time I had been trapped inside a time-loop, but it was the first time I had to escape in order to save a life. Here’s what happened.

    This wasn’t the first time I had been trapped inside a time-loop, but it was the first time I had to escape in order to save a life. Here’s what happened.

    This wasn’t the first time I had been trapped inside a time-loop, but it was the first time I had to escape in order to save a life. Here’s what happened.

    AAARGHHH!!!!!

    “What’s up, Anne?”

    “It’s called writers block, Max. When you keep starting to write something, then realize it’s not good enough, and the cycle loops over itself…Why are you looking at me like that?”

    “Writer’s block? Is that like sun block, or building blocks, or chip off the old…”

    “No, it’s like blockhead, blockhead. Why did I agree to marry you, Max? I knew you wouldn’t understand. We go through this every week.”

    “Ok, well, I’ll just…uh…leave you alone now…”

    “Thanks. Back to my room.”

    Sigh.

    This wasn’t the first time I had been trapped inside a time-loop, but it was the first time I had to escape in order to save a life. Here’s what happened.

    This wasn’t the first time I had been trapped inside a time-loop, but it was the first time I had to escape in order to save a life. Here’s what happened.

  14. typewriter

    This wasn’t the first time I had been trapped inside a wooden crate, but it was the first time I had to escape in order to save a life. Here’s what happened.
    I was clever enough to ease right inside the box, full of anti-static styrofoam peanuts, for the sole purpose to hide. Because I know where they were keeping my old creative writing teacher, John Brenner from Elementary school captive. I was being wheeled off a truck and into a storage warehouse; an unfrequented one, which was probably located in a secluded vicinity somewhere in the boonies.

    I peer through the pencil-line between each plank. Enough visualization on what was going happen and where I was being escorted to and from. I couldn’t see anything in particular; just an empty facility with industrial windows and light fixtures cupped in wire cages.
    Assumingly the man whom I thought was indeed a delivery man, or was he somebody else? I guess I’ll never know until I was freed.

    There was commotions of that inconsequential small talk about the weather. Around a corner of neatly stacked boxes. A group of men standing at a small table, almost filling it up. There are seven, gaudily dressed in black suits and identical blue silk ties.

    “Newly specialized equipment?” one of the men said.
    “Frankly it is,” the delivery guy reflected.
    “Wheel it to the Gas Room, Mr. Stovington has been expecting it,” another man said.

    Gas Room? I thought.

    I continue being wheeled. I peeked through the cracks once again and notice on a steel door reads GAS ROOM in red faded letters. There was a big window to a chamber. I saw Mr. Brenner secured on a chair in there. Another man standing by in a Hawaiian shirt and khaki jeans, who happens to be monitoring the GAS ROOM from one video screen. I knew exactly who he was. Kipper Stovington. A boy who had taken the same creative writing class as me.

    I waited for Kipper to leave, I was feeling nauseated and thirsty. Once he finally left, I came out of the crate. I released the airlock to the door. Mr. Brenner was happy to see me. I undid the rope that bound him. He didn’t expect nobody to find and save him.
    “You’re safe now. Let’s get you home,” I said.

    He thanked me, and I can smell butterscotch in his breath, the scent of Werther’s Originals vacuumed up in my nostrils.
    “Come on.”

    I slipped an arm under his one arm and lifted him off the chair. We both glanced up, and knew right away there would be trouble coming out of the GAS ROOM. All the men dressed in black suits and matching blue silk ties and Kipper Stovington stood at the big window like witnesses to an execution.
    Ominously, the door closed and the room started to pollute a greenish chemical, coming out of the six vents on the wall; the sound was like whip cream sizzling out of a Reddi-Wip can.
    My eyes shuttered…

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I need part two also, too.many questions to answer
        First part has plenty of tension in a good flow
        I agree with Reatha, thanks for trying to say a creative writing teacher

    1. JRSimmang

      War Games? I get the sense this is set during WWII, and we’re privy to some demented Josef Mengele experiment. There has to be something to the Werther’s Originals, too.
      Okay, I’ll bite. Where’s the Part 2?

  15. Avid Daydreamer

    This isn’t the first time I’ve been trapped in the cupboard under the sink, but it was the first time I had to escape in order to save a life.

    The high pitched shriek that carries so well through these loathsome halls is one of desperation. A familiar sound. But there’s something about the tone this time that makes my stomach turn. Bursting out of the cupboard, I race past the soiled furniture to find the source.

    I wish I hadn’t.

    There in the dining room I find my father, sweat beading on the angry creases in his forehead. Dinner plate in one hand, my mother’s throat in the other. His whiskey bottle stands proudly on the table, only a quarter full. Drunk again.

    He sees me in the corner of his eye and I drown. For so many years I’ve been a victim of this man’s torment. Everyday I run when I hear the car door slam shut, finding shelter in the cupboard. It is my paradise. My only safety. Fear has made me weak, and my mother suffers because of that weakness. Perhaps today, she suffers for the last time.

    “No!”

    My father swings, hurling the plate toward my mother’s face. True fear paints her visage. A loud crash resounds throughout the room as I smash the whiskey bottle over his head, knocking him down and tearing open his scalp. Pieces of glass find kinship among the mess that litters the ground. Then only silence, for what seems like hours. The tears that traverse my face are an unstoppable waterfall. They are equal parts shock and relief.

    As realization dawns on me, I let the bottle drop to the ground. We’re free.

  16. Kerry Charlton

    ON THE WINGS OF MERCY

    His phone ran at two fifteen in the morning, Jack Ironhorse was used to it being a medical courier stationed in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. .He listened intently,

    “This is a tough one Jack, we harvested a heart from a young girl killed in an auto accident. Computer shows a perfect match for a fourteen year old girl in M. D. Anderson in Houston. How soon …….,

    “Thirty minutes Eliza, hanger 12 at International. I think a hurricane is about to strike Houston, but I should be able to get there first. I’m out of here.”

    He called the hanger to pull the Lear out and get it ready. It was small jet built to carry six, modified to an airborne emergency vehicle in the rear, room or two passengers.
    ‘Perhaps I’m wrong.’ he thought, ‘the plane wasn’t built to fly through a cyclone but I have to try.”

    Eliza waited for him as he pulled up. A gorgeous brunette, dedicated to saving lives. That’s what it took to do this work. Without being asked she joined him in the copilot‘s seat firmly holding a medium sized refrigerated box containing the heart as she plugged it in.

    “I’m coming along to keep you company chief.”

    “Cut the chief baby, it’s ceremonial only. “ He smiled and blew her a kiss.

    The Lear lifted off the runway in about 4500 feet and headed toward top cruising altitude of 51,000 feet. It would take about two hours to reach Houston at top cruising speed and he contacted the Houston International,

    We are still open flight 457, but it’s raining fiercely and we may have to close down. Advise you to make alternative flight plans.”

    “Listen up Houston, I’m carrying a new heart for a 14 year old girl, I will land somewhere.”

    “Suit yourself 457 but I won’t let you land and splatter my runway if I close.”

    Jack dialed M. D. Anderson for the chief surgeon,

    “Thank God” he said, “you‘re on the way but they just announced the airport is closed.” . .

    “What about Hobby?”

    “Closed thirty minutes ago. If she doesn’t receive this heart soon, you’re wasting your fuel. They’ve even shut down IH10 five miles east of the city.

    “Dr, how much pull do you have?”

    “Plenty, what’s up”

    They talked a few minutes and Jack hung the phone up.

    “Scared baby?”

    “With you flying? Yes!”

    “Yes?”

    “Only kidding chief, did you bring your lucky eagle’s feather with you?”

    “ How’d you know about that?”

    “We all know you’re full blood Cherokee, you handsome devil.”

    They both laughed on that one and curiously fell silent, he not being sure if he could do this, Eliza wondering about the girl’s he’s known. Sixty miles from Houston, the radio came alive,

    “Flight 457, this is Hobby. We’re battery set up at landing location, I’m going to talk you in. Wind speed 65 knots. It’s going to be one hell of a feat. Large medical helicopter standing by to carry you to MD.

    “How many feet of highway?”

    “Barricades are set back a mile and a half you’re going to need it.”

    “Highway?” Elise asked.

    “Interstate 10.”

    “Have you done this with the wind blowing like this?”

    “Nope and I don’t intend to do it but one time.”

    She fell silent as he adjusted his flight approach. Eliza saw nothing at all but rain out of the cabin and said a silent prayer.
    “300 feet flight 457. Do you see the lights.?’

    “Not yet.”

    “Well I just lost you on the radar, God speed son.”

    ”Thank you.”

    “I see them, I see them,” Elize shouted.

    “Hold on tight baby, we’re coming in on the ‘Wings Of Mercy‘”

    Lights stretched for two miles as the Lear hit the highway and bounced airborne,. Settled a second time. The plane landed at a 20% degree angle to compensate for wind and slowed. A gust of wing blew them to the dividing rail and tore the right wing off and right landing gear. They spun like a top and crashed into the rail a second time and clipped the other wheel as it stopped. The plane tilted a full 40% as Jack killed the engine. The sound of an ambulance penetrated the broken jet. The medical helicopter started his blade turning.

    ‘I owe you dinner babe.”

    “Just you wait, I’m going to punish you the entire night and maybe the next day.”

    .

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you Rene, mostly all I know about planes is trying to stay off of them. Glad you enjoyed the suspense, I did also because I never know how my stories are going to end up.

          1. Kerry Charlton

            Thank you Bushkill, I am glad it’s not my jet. Replacement cost is a little over eleven million.
            That,’s why I crashed it
            I thought the trader wouldn’t expect this

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thanks, Reatha, it was quite a trip. Even for me, when I started it, I had no idea how to end it. But he’s a real hero to risk his life to save s young girl.

    1. JRSimmang

      As soon as I learned about the law Eisenhower signed requiring one of every five miles of road to be straight, I had hoped someone would write a story worthy of the implications. Kerry, you’re that guy. The pacing here is spot on, and I think you revealed a little of you here in Jack.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you JR. I never knew about Eisenhower’s rule but it certainly makes sense. There is some of me in Jack and that’s when given a job to do. I do it or put myself on the line to do it, thinking anything is possible. And I refuse to quit until I do it. Exceptions , ice skating . Parachute jumping and riding a killer roller coaster.

    2. writer_sk

      Kerry – the action and setting were awesome. The banter between the pilot and Eliza was really well done. I like how you incorporated Houston since it is on everyone’s mind. the conflict and urgency of the characters needing to deliver a human heart was a very plausible and immediately relatable concept.

      Strong ending and the whole thing really drew me in.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you so much obviously you got into it. Well, so did I the idea of the crash was a last minute add on, when I realized the cross wind at that speed would be very difficult to handle. But I didn’t want them to be hurt. I promise this, Eliza and Jack Iron horse will be back for a second adventure.

    3. frankd1100

      “Well, I just lost you on the radar. God speed son.” About the most terrifying words one could hear in this situation and the Chief says, Thank You…. So I’m starting to sweat for the Chief, Elize and the child waiting for the heart but that line made me laugh. I like the relationship between the Chief and Elize, which you don’t spell out but which becomes clearly apparent through their interaction. Well done Kerry… You are a master of dialogue.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        That was a scary sentence but it is true. When they get that close, the system. Doesn’t read correctly. I meant the thank you to be sarcastic and maybe some inappropriate humor during a crisis. Thank you for the compliment on dialogue. My wife would not agree with you. I need to write her in a story and talk to her. However, she doesn’t want to go.And you know “Whatever Lola wants, Lola gets,” only her name isn’t Lola

  17. Turkey Girl

    This wasn’t the first time I had been trapped inside my high school classroom, but it was the first time I had to escape in order to save lives. Here’s what happened.

    My English teacher, Mr. Anderson, was heading down the hall to a meeting with the principal. He was supposed to be teaching my class, but apparently the meeting was more important. He started trying to herd us into our homeroom. I had just got in the classroom when I saw the Muslim kid from the class above me, Kasif Seilman, walking down the hall. His coat looked unusually baggy, and as he made his way down the hall, I saw he had what looked like packs of C-4 strapped to his chest. I started to leave the room when Mr. Anderson pushed me back in.

    “Okay, guys, you need to stay in this room and be quiet. I’ll be back in ten minutes. If I hear a single noise from up here, then I’ll give you an assignment next time.”

    I tried to tell him that I needed to leave the room but he ignored me. “It’s just ten minutes, Jackie. I’m sure you can stay in here for that long.” He slammed the door behind him.

    As soon as he’d left the room, I ran for the door. I tried to open it, but it wouldn’t budge. But I knew he hadn’t locked us in. He’d only closed the door. So why wasn’t it opening? I looked around the classroom for someone who could help. Motioning one of the boys whose name was Will over, I watched as he tried to open the door. When he didn’t have any success either, I made a further examination of the door frame. The edge of the door had broken off and was wedged in the place where the lock was. I sighed.

    “Will, I saw Kasif with a bomb strapped to him. We have to get out of this room.”

    He nodded, looking very sceptical. Running to the teacher’s desk, he opened the drawer and pulled a ruler out. Forcing it into the door frame, he broke off the piece of wood that was in the way. We tried to door again. This time, it started to open, then got stuck. Refusing to let some wood stop me, I kicked the door hard. It swung out quickly. Stepping into the hall, I tried to determine where Kasif had gone.

    There was only one way I could access both the other classrooms which he could’ve gone into. There was a closet between them which had doors leading to each of the rooms. I headed for it, with Will following me. Despite the urgency of the situation, I couldn’t restrain a smile. Will had been interested in me for a while, and I wasn’t surprised that he wanted to follow me into the small dark closet space. Bringing myself back into focus, I cracked open the first door, the one leading to the computer lab. The class inside saw me peering through the door and burst into laughter, alarming the elderly teacher, who dropped his piece of chalk. By the time he’d turned around, I’d already closed the door.

    I opened the door on the other side, the one leading to the science lab. A scene opened up before my eyes. The senior class was inside, clustered around a table, where the eccentric teacher was showing them how to burn off hydrogen peroxide without blowing the place up. Kasif was standing near the window, fingering his coat. He pulled a small red device out which I could only guess its purpose. I was out of time.

    “Kasif, stop!” I yelled, running out of the closet and tackling him. The force of the collision made him tip over backwards and fall out of the window behind him, dragging me with him. We fell two stories before hitting the parking lot. I was sure my leg was broken, but Kasif still had the bomb, and he could still set it off. I ripped open his coat and carelessly tore the wires. Pulling the C-4 off of him, I flung it as far away as I could. Still pinning him down, I watched as the school doors burst open and teachers ran out, grabbing Kasif and pulling him from me. Right behind them was Will.

    “Are you okay?” he said, still trying to catch his breath.

    “Yeah, for the most part.”

    He nodded. “Anything I can do?”

    I smiled. Since I’d put him through a lot, I decided to make his day. “Sure, Will. Could you carry me to your car so you can drive me home?”

    “I’d love to.” With a grin bigger than I’d ever seen him have before, he reached down to pick me up.

    1. Rene Paul

      Not a politically correct story, but then again this is a forum for writers. Here we practice our craft and exercise free speech and all that comes and goes with it. On that point, nice job of writing your story, glad you didn’t include any bad words! Oops, I’m being politically incorrect. Look forward to reading your next submission.

        1. Kerry Charlton

          The tension was constant and strong and that’s what most of us are looking for. As far as being politically correct the first time the phrase was used was the day before Japan was signing a surrender to end world war two. The words of Harry Truman,
          “General you have to stop calling them ‘Little Yellow Basra*ds.”
          ” Why Harry?””
          “Because some stupid son s a bit*h in Congress said it wasn’t politically correct.”
          Now do you want to erase history or not treat it as if it never happened?

          1. Turkey Girl

            You are absolutely right. While I wasn’t trying to be politically incorrect, the story came out that way. I can see this happening in a school, which was part of the reason I wrote it. Just because something is politically incorrect doesn’t mean it won’t happen. Thank you for your feedback!

    2. JRSimmang

      The platform of the writer is a gift. We are the voices that will forever shade history. We should write as a mirror of the times, both past and present. You’ve created a story, TG, that offers the reader a different insight, one that is shared by many people, and reviled by the same number. Well done in making us shift uncomfortably and question our perspectives.

  18. jhowe

    It was so dark. I blinked and felt smoothness on my eyelids. It felt like silk or nylon with a faint chemical smell. Inhaling, my expanded chest wedged against a solid surface, solid but padded. I was able to move my arms slightly, outward just a few inches and upward even less. I could push with my legs and straighten my knees until my feet connected with a wall or something. I tilted my head back then downward. My chin encountered a soft knot of some kind. Was I wearing a necktie? I hadn’t worn a tie since my daughter’s wedding in 2007.

    Slowly, my mind became focused and I remembered the procedure. Emergency bypass surgery. The chest pain was so great, but now I felt nothing. My movements ceased and I lay still with thoughts awhirl. The scream that escaped my lips was muffled and weak and my ears began to ring, a steady hum that gradually changed to a rhythmic beep.

    My eyes blinked open, blinded by light, but then I saw her. She stood, all in white, a smile spreading across her beautiful face. She squeezed my hand and tears appeared on her cheeks. I tried to speak but she shook her head and brushed my cheek with her fingers. The pain was back, but a different pain, dull and throbbing. Behind her, my daughter stood with her husband, my four year old granddaughter in his arms.

    “Is Grandpa ok?”

    “Yes pumpkin” my wife said, smiling. “Grandpa’s ok.”

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Talk about tight? You are a master at this
        If I didn’t know better I would say you went through this experience
        It is immensely real and seems so accurate

        Great job on the story.

    1. JRSimmang

      I must admit I’m a little lost, J. Are they all dead, or just the grandpa? Did he transpire across the veil, or has he come back to haunt the family?
      As usual, your diction is praise-worthy, and your turn phrase like a lyrical DJ.

  19. GrahamLewis

    Before the ICEmen Cometh

    The chime of my cell phone chime tore through my sleep. When I realized what it was I hit disconnect, and buried my face in my pillow. I was locked in the dark for good reason, and had no desire to talk to anyone.

    It chimed again, again I disconnected, again it chimed. As I was deciding whether to turn it off or throw it against the wall, it chimed once more. An unfamiliar number. Okay, okay. I give up. “This is Bob. What is it?”

    “Bob, this is Jose, your downstairs neighbor. Sorry to disturb you, but I knew you were there.”

    Of course I was here. I’m almost always here these days. I only leave for necessities. But why should that matter to this guy? We only speak in passing. I didn’t even know his name. Or care.

    “Yeah, I am. So?”

    “I’m stuck.”

    “What?”

    “I’m stuck. A bookcase fell on me yesterday and I can’t get out. I tried but I cannot. I need help.”

    “So call 911.”

    “No. I’m afraid of the ICE.”

    I lifted the heavy shade and looked out the summer sunshine I had locked out. “What ice?”

    “You know, the immigration ICE. I am illegal and they will deport me. You are my only hope. I know no one here.”

    So, it’s up to me. How unfair was that? No sooner do I climb into my cocoon of darkness and immobility than this happens. This wasn’t the first time I had been trapped inside that cocoon but it was the first time I had to escape in order to save a life.

    Damn. But even I have a heart.

    I went down and kicked the door in, lifted the bookcase, gave him a drink, bandaged him, made sure he was comfy, and came back upstairs to settle in again.

    But the cocoon was in shreds. Sunlight and sound were streaming in. That’s the thing about self-pity, if you’re not careful it falls apart.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Think positive on this. Whom do you think feels better for his actions.the illegal who’s life was saved or Bob who got up off his duff to help a total stranger. Of course you know the answer without me telling you. A very prolific tale you have woven and those of us that read it are better off for doing so.

    1. GrahamLewis

      Thanks all for the kind responses. I wasn’t going to do this one but this suddenly came to me. I’m glad you liked it. I may get the hang of this writer thing yet.

  20. Rene Paul

    I came into this world 14-months, two days, and eight hours after my brother entered. We’re not twins, but we act and behave like it.

    Despite this glitch in timing, we’re always together. Whether it’s walking to school, watching our favorite TV shows, or pretending to be cowboys riding the range, driving cattle, chasing and shooting guys wearing black hats, and then sleeping under the stars.

    Sometimes, our imaginations would take us into outer space. We’d command our own spacecraft, The U.S.S. Rat Fink. Once, we were on a mission in a far-away galaxy to invade a planet occupied by Klingon warriors that abducted earthlings to be their slaves. We fought, chased, and vaporized the aliens, freeing the captives and returning to earth as heroes.

    Tonight, we’re holed up in a cave outside a small village in central Europe, getting ready to advance and attack an enemy outpost in the morning. We have weapons and supplies. At my side, I carry a Roy Rogers holster and cap gun, my brother has a double holster Fanner 50 set, and a full box of caps. In our hideaway, we have a Davy Crockett flintlock rifle, army helmets, canteens, flashlights and Dick Tracy two-way electronic wrist radios.

    The moon and stars cast their light on our location, it’s 2100.

    We await orders.

    My brother announces his need to relieve himself, “Not in our hideout,” I said. “Go outside the cave and be careful, enemy agents are looking for us.” He turns his flashlight off, I douse mine under my helmet, leaving just enough illumination so he can find his way out and back again; he makes his way past the two giant boulders and slithers away into the unknown.

    Time passes, I wait for his return.

    “Help, help me.” His plea filtered through the vast expanse of No-man’s-land.

    In spite of the danger of being detected, I shout out, “Where are you?”

    “The Klingon warriors have captured me, I’m being held in a space ship, 5 miles from the cave. Help me!”

    “What do you mean… Klingon warriors? We defeated them with our x-ray guns last week.”

    “Oh yeah, I meant, I’m being held by wild Indians,” he said.

    “No, you’re not, it’s the Germans that captured you,” I said.

    His elevated voice gave away his anxiety, “Ok… it doesn’t matter, just get me out!”

    I slipped out of the cave and followed the tracking device on my wrist radio straight to the place where my brother is being held. With no enemy soldiers spotted in the vicinity, I called out his name. A swirling, rushing water sound, emanates from within the room. He answers my call by pounding his fists on the door. I fire a cap into the door knob, blowing the lock to smithereens.

    That’s when a giant flare lit the sky.

    “Hey! It’s late. Knock off the noise,” our father said, “time for bed.” He lifted the walls of our cave exposing the copper piping my brother used to form its shape. “So, here’s my missing pipes. Boys… you should ask me if you want to take piping from my truck, and why are your pillows on the floor… never mind, let’s tuck these cowboy guns and military things back into the toy box, then I’ll tuck you guys in, you can finish playing your war games tomorrow morning, it’s Saturday.”

    We received our orders, and a flip of the wall switch extinguished the flare.

    Good night!

        1. Kerry Charlton

          Not that’s one kick of a story. During a certain world war my. Brother and I played.marines and raided one Jap island after another. These games went on for three years until we defeated Japan and the war was over
          Great memories of my older brother who left me two years ago and now it’s my job and mine alone to honor his memory.

          1. Rene Paul

            Thanks, Kerry, glad it brought back those memories of good times with your brother. Kids don’t play like that anymore. I grew up on a dead end street with 36 kids within 2-years of each other. We played outside all the time and had to undo the the rolled up jeans on the porch to let out all the dirt. Dirt! Kids today don’t know what t hat is, sad.

  21. ShamelessHack

    This wasn’t the first time I had been trapped inside a swirling cloud of bad English, lousy phrases, corny similes, and run-on sentences, but it was the first time I had to make like a dirty shirt and take off, in order to save the life of my literary reputation, which was now so low that it could walk upright under a pregnant ant without hitting its head.

    My first move was to wade into an angry swarm of tired metaphors with my fists bunched like two raw hams, my eyes flaming like torches, and my breath rasping like a buzz saw. Of course I knocked those hackneyed expressions into next week like white on rice. Hey, is the Pope Catholic? Who loves ya, baby? Yo, Adrian!

    An indefinite article snuck up behind me and I strangled his or her syntax, blowing its prepositional phrases to and from hell and back again.

    Not to let sleeping dogs lie, I invited a nasty dangling participle to my house. I let him know that I lived near a pond and he should drop in sometime.

    My grammatical construction flailing wildly, I smashed. An angry group. Of sentence fragments. To bits.

    I brutally slapped and/or backhanded some repetitive and indefinite conjunctions, and then looked around, and then my enemies were vanquished.

    I was free.

    I stumbled out into the bright light of grammatical and syntactic perfection, confident in the knowledge that my reputation as a literary tactician and innovator had been unsullied by the taint of contemporary verbal ineloquence.

    ****

    “You screwed up, Hack.”
    “How’s that?”
    “You saw a fork and the road and took it.”
    “You think?”
    “Yeah. All I like about the piece is that it’s over.”
    “It’s that bad, huh?”
    “Yep. It’s like déjà vu all over again.”
    “That’s OK, Yogi. Half the lies they tell about me aren’t true anyway.”

    1. JRSimmang

      Hack, if you haven’t read “Samurai Cat Goes to the Movies” you must. As usual, your story has hooked me in, leaving me flopping on its deck. Though, those metaphors are the tricky ninjas of figurative language.

    2. ReathaThomasOakley

      Oh, oh, oh, oh…..my head, my head, my head.

      A few years ago I tried to start a small writing group. Why did you have to remind me!

      Excellent piece, should be required reading.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I’ve forgotten every turn you mention and hope my auto pilot guides my writing ability from crashing into wave battered rocks and keeps my boat afloat. Yee haw!!!!

  22. RafTriesToWrite

    I remember doing this story (odd coincidence, I know) when I was younger, so I rummaged my things until I found it. I’m gonna take a break this week and let 7 year old me do the writing. I didn’t want to edit it (other than the grammar errors I could find, except typos) because I thought this was too cute so, yeah. I apologize in advance.

    ——
    There’s this guy – let’s call him Jared. Jared woke up in the atic (attic) looking all confused.

    “How did I get up here again?” Said Jared. Jared has this condition where he stands up in the middle of the night, still asleep, and just walks around the house all night long until he finds a comfortable place to rest.

    So Jared had to get out of the atic (attic), right? But when he goes to the door it was locked, which was weird.

    “Oh no. It is locked!” Jared was feeling scared now.

    “What am I going to do?” Said Jared.

    After a few moments, Jared remembered Mr. Snuffles. You see, Mr. Snuffles is Jared’s cat and Mr. Snuffles only eats this special treats that Jared has locked up at the top cabinet in his kitchen, but since Jared is locked again in the atic (attic), how is Mr. Snuffles going to eat now? Mr. Snuffles will starve to death if Jared doesn’t go down to feed Mr. Snuffles.

    “Mr. Snuffles!” Jared tried to scream. But Mr. Snuffles was too far downstairs that he couldn’t hear Jared.

    So Jared had to find another way out. He can’t go through the door like last time, because he fixed it and made the door better after he broke it the first time.

    So, now what? Jared is thinking. He looked at all the things he had in his atic (attic), hoping that there would be something to help him escape and save Mr. Snuffles from starving.

    You know those old record players, with the big horn, a big black CD, a thing you wind it up with, and a needle that you put down so that the music would play? You know those? Jared owned one.

    He thought of selling it before but decided not to because it was a gift from his father, which was a gift from his grandfather, and a gift from his grandfather’s father and so on, it was an air loom (heirloom) in their family.

    There were lots of stuff in Jared’s atic (attic), but it seems like there’s nothing useful there to help him escape.

    He has these big old chests full of old clothes, but all of them are locked and needed a key to open. All that’s left is the mannykin (mannequin) near the square window.

    So he thought. Maybe Jared could go out the window? But the drop is 30ft high.

    Then he remembered that Jared’s bedroom balcony is just down below. That was his way out.

    Jared broke the window, because this window is like those windows that don’t have any openings. It’s just for light to shine through. It was little, but it was enough.

    So Jared climed (climbed) up the window, went down to his balcony, and ran immediately downstairs into his kitchen, then fed Mr. Snuffles.

    “I love you Mr. Snuffles” Jared patted Mr. Snuffles and Mr. Snuffles just perd (purred).

    1. theexcitedquestion

      I am so glad that you shared this. It is adorable! I actually laughed out loud at “with the big horn, a big black CD, a thing you wind it up with, and a needle that you put down so that the music would play? You know those? Jared owned one.”

      Seems you have always had a gift Raf!

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Think positive on this. Whom do you think feels better for his actions.the illegal who’s life was saved or Bob who got up off his duff to help a total stranger. Of course you know the answer without me telling you. A very prolific tale you have woven and those of us that read it are better off for doing so.,

        1. Kerry Charlton

          Mr. Snuffles is one lucky cat and we are all lucky you posted this for us. Amazing work for a seven year old
          Funny as all get out. You may have revealed more of yourself then you’d ever realize . Adorable,cute, funny and revealing all four are there.

  23. writer_sk

    PART 1

         It wasn’t the first time I’d gotten locked in the bathroom at the nightclub but it was the first time no one knew I’d gone down there. My failure to get out in time could result in the loss of a life.

         As the band upstairs began their set I knew people would crowd the stage area and it would become loud. I’d walked to the club from my apartment, a quick stroll down the main drag lined with storefronts, cafes, bookstores and restaurants. I lived in a nice little New England college town with a roommate and by this time of year autumn had saturated the warm summer air. I was let in free because I knew the bouncer and only spent minimal time on the floor of the club. I was what people in town called a “scenester.” I was a fixture on the underground ska, ska-punk, punk and hardcore music scene.

         I’d left my Styrofoam coffee cup steaming in Horse’s office which overlooked the sea of people. He was the club manager and I was the “distro” girl for this and other bands for whom he worked. This meant I handled distribution of promotional material for tonight’s band, “Pink Socks.”

         The thought of the hot coffee going from hot to warm and the crowd going from uninterested to excited lifted my tattooed leg as my Doc Marten-adorned foot smashed through the window and cool air met my face and shoulders as I hoisted my body up and through the small opening. Glass tore my black jean skirt and I kicked it into the old bathroom after the fact, punishment for challenging me.

         The merch table would soon be swallowed by a swarm of eager all-ages types wanting a “Pink Socks” EP and I’d take their cash and get them to sign up for my mailing list. On each EP, next to the liner notes there was a section where the band thanked people. It was important to Horse and therefore me because it was crucial fans find out about other bands. Horse was masterful at getting bands to thank other bands from his label and to mention up-and-coming unsigned bands that he wanted to get out through word of mouth. I was his protégé and spent hours driving around sticking band’s bumper stickers to street signs, rocks and the Mass Pike tollbooths with my ex-boyfriend, Aaron, the lead singer of “Pink Socks” who used to work as merchandiser for Horse.

        

  24. writer_sk

    PART 2

    The year was 1997 and I felt on top of the world. I applied more lipstick and checked myself in the reflection of the club’s tacky mirrored wall. Everything in there was old and worn out. My ripped skirt fit in my world. Running by and nodding at the bartender I still had time for my life-saving stunt. Horse spotted me and gave me the thumbs up from the office window, his face lit with love the same as when he noticed Aaron had put me second in his thank-yous on the EP. The life I was saving was mine because I knew Aaron was going to propose to his girlfriend during intermission.

         I hopped on the PA system saying the club needed to briefly evacuate for a safety check. Outside Aaron still had his guitar and was sipping water. Unconcerned and strumming softly, he caught my eye and smiled, it hadn’t been a bad break-up. I took his hand and pulled him back to the alley where one could see the stars and the club felt far away. I had a guy’s type class ring and I put it on his finger: “Marry me not her?”

         Aaron backed up until I thought he’d walk into the brick wall.

         “I don’t know,” he said, “I never got over you but…I need time.”

          As the Pink Socks jammed to their next set following an absence of any other proposal I closed my eyes as Aaron sang the song about me. My coffee was still hot and as I saw my ring on his finger catch the glimmer off the old disco ball, I smiled.
     


    1. JRSimmang

      I’ll have to admit, Sarah, I’m none too familiar with the music industry or the goings-on around it. Your piece opened my eyes to a whole new world. Great job making it feel like a ’90s movie!

        1. Kerry Charlton

          Being in the record business for 23 years.made me love this
          Our company recorded and owned “The Big Booper who died in a plane crash. Our Houston.office put Z. Z. Top on the map. We also distributed 60 record labels like A & M, Motown,London, Atlantic , Checker,Chess and Atco. It was a fun time of my.life and I met a fabulous group of guys and gals. Oh,for the old days.

  25. ReathaThomasOakley

    Annie is Trapped!
    May 21, 1955

    (With references to an episode not yet posted.)

    I couldn’t hardly believe it, trapped on the wash house roof while Uncle George carried the ladder down the street. I couldn’t yell for him to bring it back, because he’d just laugh and say, “Annie Louise, what in tarnation you doin’ up on that roof?” Then he’d tell Aunt Violet, and she’d tell Mama, and I’d be in trouble, again.

    The past few weeks’d been trying, that’s what Mama says right before she says the Lord won’t give her more than she can bear. I don’t exactly know what she has to bear, but it ain’t worse than being ten and ever thing changing too fast. Like finding out that cousin Vonnie’s new clothes were “maternity” and that meant she was going to have a baby. Then that nurse had to go and tell me and Marian and Acina and Joyce and all the other girls all that stuff going on inside us. That’s why I was up on the roof, I had to get someplace to do some hard thinking.

    After I’d showed Mama the little book the nurse gave us, she’d been having all these talks with me, well, she talks and I just listen. Don’t matter how ever she starts, she always ends up with one more thing I can’t do any more, ’cause I’m gonna soon be a lady. I ain’t figured out what’s wrong with holding on to the big old rope tied to the tallest live oak branch, and swinging from the wash house roof to the ground. There ain’t nothing much in the whole wide world like holding that stickery rope tight as I can, and running and jumping right off into the air, hoping and praying that rope ain’t gonna break.

    This morning Mama got another phone call, so right after dinner, pilau like most Saturdays, she went off on some Christian duty, Daddy was fishing, Brother was at Pu’kin’s, and I decided to think. For a while ever thing was good, I’d brought up an old towel for under my head, and it was nice and cool in the shade. I’d nearly been asleep watching the sun shine through the trees when I heard something. I just stayed real still until I figured it was somebody stealing the ladder. I crawled over to the edge, getting ready to yell, “Stop, thief!” when I saw it was Uncle George.

    After he got to his yard I crawled over to where the rope always was and could not believe my very own eyes. The rope wasn’t on the roof, it was on the ground. I shoulda looked.

    I was trying to think what to do when I heard something at the back of our yard. I crawled that way and looked down to the vacant lot between our house and Miss Kinzer’s store. There was Brother and Pu’kin holding popsicles way up in the air while a dog I hadn’t never seen before was jumping up and down around them, like it had rabies.

    I could not believe it! My very own little brother’s life was gonna be gone if I didn’t do something. If I was Sky King’s niece Penny I’d know how to save him, but I wasn’t. Then, without even thinking I jumped up high as I could, caught hold of a low oak branch, and used it like the rope to get to the ground.

    I thought ever body’d be proud of me, but the dog was Miss Kinzer’s grandson’s, and Brother’d just been playing with it. I got another talking to, and had to promise not to never do that again. And, I still hadn’t figured out if what Marian had said was true, that the nurse’s talk had something to do with maternity. Ever thing was just so trying.

    1. JRSimmang

      I think you’ve got Annie down to perfection. I know there’s a little Annie in you somewhere, and it certainly shows. This is a great anecdote of hers, showing us a little more of her personality, augmenting the relationship she has built with her and her family.

    2. writer_sk

      Pure joy Reatha!

      I love the word “ever thing” so true that Annie is being asked to do more ladylike things. I have imposed these sorts of guidelines on my son saying “now that you’re a big boy…”

      Also I can recall my mom talking where I wasn’t able to get in any words: It’s such a strong memory! It is a gift when you can describe what others have felt. It’s hard for a girl to go up sometimes.

      I always identified with Beverly Cleary’s Ramona. Annie reminds me of her.

      Your character is just awesome through and through. I can’t wait to read the full book

    3. Pete

      Another great one, Reatha. The voice is spot on and authentic. Poor Annie, I agree that this will make one fine book. I love the dialect and the consistency of each entry.

        1. Kerry Charlton

          Well I finally got her to read your story. One of the best and you handled the “birds and the bees” in a very professional manner giving us insight into how the reaction felt to girls instead of us nasty guys. I also can’t wait but you know I will.

    4. frankd1100

      Sky King and Penny! I bet there aren’t many in here old enough to have watched Sky King… Wonderful story and well written, Reatha. Reminds me of my youth. I’m the oldest of 14. My Mom was always pregnant it seemed and in our extremely Irish Catholic house there were no discussions about Mom being pregnant. The word pregnant was somehow uncomfortable. The adults always said, “so and so is expecting.”

      You bring back lots of memories.

  26. JRSimmang

    WHEN WE SAY GOODBYE

    Around midday, the fog rolls up into our encampment on the summit of K2. She’s wily, this one. All teeth and no bite until the evening comes and she hasn’t eaten. The fog lays its profound stillness, and we’re frozen in admiration, or fear.

    I pace to the edge of the cliff, lit only by high-sulfur torches. Everything else breaks down up here. In front of me, I see her Edge. I see the twinkling twilight of an ambivalent bedroom, lit by a single nightlight. It’s one of her favorite memories, and it’s taken us way too long to find it.

    “Rouse yourselves,” I shout. “Ahead, twenty secs thirty. Be ready in 5.”

    I pull out my binoculars and scan for the TransPo, the Transition Point between her safeguard and her only hope for survival. Harper sidles up next to me. “She dead yet?”

    I shake my head. “No, but the fog is a bad omen.”

    “You think we’ll make it in time?”

    “Dunno.” I sigh and let my binoculars hang. “I woulda never considered staying, but it’s for her own good. I gotta get out of here with that memory or she’s definitely going under.”

    Harper, while only an aspect of me, was an excellent navigator and strategizer. The other parts of me, the little child, the feminine, I had to leave at The Docks. There was no room for error.

    We set pace back down the sheer side of the mountain. The TransPo was easily 500 yards from where we were, smack in the middle of the sky. Getting to it would mean ascending to a nearby outcropping and lassoing through the Edge. Lucky for us, they’re like cyclones. Once a hand gets in, the body follows.

    I had to learn the hard way that death in here means leaving a part of you behind. Robert Cutcheons has the part of me that can empathize. He’ll forever have the Harper Beta that was willing and eager to lend a hand floating in his subconscious. Some defenses are so elaborate, I’d been lucky to get out with any piece of me intact.

    Harper Rho throws the line, and we grab a hold of the rope. The world in front of me, the little girl’s room with the “Little Mermaid” nightlight, the shelves of stuffed animals, the hand-drawn oblong family members, twists in front of me, sending into my feet the crushing sense of sea-sickness. The colors blend into one stunning array of ceruleans and panacottas before settling out, and we are standing awkwardly in the middle of the room.

    Her footsteps echo up to her door, and I hear her voice for the first time, the first time since she fell into a self-induced coma. My little Gabby. My little Sugarbeet. Perhaps there was a little Harper Beta left behind after all.

    The door creaks open. Her fingers, tiny and perfect, curl around the edge and she nudges her way in, singing good night to me and her mom. “Come tuck me in!” I have to keep myself from crying. I can’t do anything until after the Turning Point, the PONoR. After that, I can manipulate my surroundings.

    “Coming soon,” my wife says. “Go ahead and pick a story!”

    She busies herself for a moment digging through her drawers to pick an outfit for tomorrow, picking up her purple marker and adding a small cat to the drawing she started the night before.

    I know what’s coming so I close my eyes against the single, deafening, terrifying sound of the gun. Glock .40. One shot through her chest. My wife crumpled, clutching the open wound spurting blood. I ran. Like a coward. But I ran to my daughter.

    Gabby jumps, then starts shaking uncontrollably. She grabs her stuffed turtle, Trumbull, and crawls under the bed, just like I taught her.

    My feet bump up the stairs, I took them three at a time, and I burst through the door.

    “Gabby,” I shout-whisper. “Gabby don’t move.” Then, I shut my eyes again. My neck sprays blood into her room, onto the table where her art project lays, and the gunshot resounds through the stairwell. I clutch my hand to my neck and make my way, half-stumbling, to the closet. I keep, kept, a third gun in her closet. My fingers curl around the handle, and I turn as Spatznik slides into the doorway.

    One shot. Two sounds. Spatznik drops. I feel the same hole again, and I drop to my knees, my heart pierced by his bullet.

    Gabby rushes out from under the bed to see my body hit the ground and my blood pool under me.

    I watch my body go from alive to dead in an instant, and I can finally interact with her.

    “Gabby,” I say. “Come here.”

    She’s confused, but she looks up at me.

    “Gabby, darling. I love you.”

    She nods.

    “And, I’ll always be with you.”

    She wipes her eyes.

    “But, I have to go now, and I’m taking this with me.” I motion around me. “You will never know how your mother and I died.”

    “Okay,” she squeaks.

    “Instead, you’ll know we love you.”

    She whispers. “I love you too.”

    I smile, hug her tightly, then there’s nothing but black.

    I left the rest of me behind. In this memory, in the next, I’ll only be happy.

    And so will she.

    -JR Simmang

    1. writer_sk

      JR- you’ve raised the bar with this story. It has everything: magic, suspense, violence, emotion.

      I love the descriptions on the mountain. I wonder if this could parlay into a longer piece?

      Anyway, excellent. *bows*

    2. ClutteredThoughts

      This is a fabulous piece JR, and I also wanted to say thank you so much for recommending the Kingkiller Chronicles. Best series I’ve read in a long time.

  27. Pete

    Today wasn’t my first day trapped in a womb but the first day I realized I was dying to get out.

    Sure, it was warm and cozy and I was getting fed on the regular. I’d floated through the first two trimesters, forming limbs and thoughts, blubbering along as my fingers materialized right before my eyes. Or maybe the eyes came first. Honestly, it was madness. How was I to know?

    Now I wanted out.

    There are two types of babies in this world. Those who choose their birthdays, and those whose birthdays choose them. And while it had been a nice ride, minus the jalapenos and the fatigue and morning sickness (my sincerest apologies) now I was ready to do my own heavy lifting, thank you very much.

    But after 275 days, give or take, enough was enough. I knew there was nothing north but that buttery voice that rocked my world and rocked me to sleep, so I did a flip and headed south.

    Yeah, I felt bad. Especially when she “oofed” and things went sideways as we tumbled over. I had no intentions of hurting her, and it set me back a bit with the moaning, but I’d heard her time and time again, bemoaning how I’d wrecked her body. So what did it matter in the end.

    I heard another voice nearby. A familiar, oaf-like voice that belonged to an utterly useless lifeform. Honey. Aside from constantly asking if everything was okay, Honey made no major contributions to my well being. In my abundant spare time, I’d made a mental image of Honey with big droopy ears and wide eyes and maybe even thumbs where ears should be. Honestly, I’d be amazed if he could tie his own umbilical cord and between you and me I doubted Honey was ready for what I had to offer.

    Okay, things were happening. I got myself right again and plunged ahead. I’ll spare you the details, because I’m not sure you want to know what I had to go through. Let’s just say making a human—a particularly gorgeous one at that—is a lot like making a pie. There’s going to be a big mess left in the kitchen.

    I knew I was getting my point across because it was complete chaos out there. Yelling and tripping and hysterics because the big oaf was being a bonehead. At this point I thought if Honey had his way he was going to try to stuff me back in. He was quite terrified, and I cannot properly convey just how thankful I am that I wasn’t stuck inside Honey for all those months.

    Okay, now or never. I hunkered down and got to work. Screams. Shrieks and sheer terror as I plunged ahead. Again, I felt terrible, my host had been nothing but accompanying and maybe one day I’d look back with nostalgia instead of nausea. But this was happening. How long did she plan on hauling me around, anyway? Checkout time.

    Just a we were getting somewhere, new voices emerged. I heard the bustle. The clatter of utensils. The cord was holding me back, even as I saw daylight. I pushed ahead, surprised that it was a two way street because my host was pushing too. I wasn’t offended, I fought through the goop and the mess and the glint of light got brighter and brighter and…

    Oh goodness it was freezing! Go back! Go back! What was I thinking? But now they were yanking at me, tugging on my head and jostling me silly. My fate was sealed as I saw shadows and figures. More lights and one of the round orbs was that deep voiced oaf. They handed me to Honey!

    No. I shrieked and went wild. All because I’d left the safety of my burrow to be handled by these cold, oafish hands. What was he doing?

    Wait…

    Wait a minute. Oh, that’s nice. I knew that voice. That lovely voice. I looked up, blinking and sniffling as I saw a blur. A sweet, angelic, very exhausted blur. Honey touched me again with his ice hands and I let him have it.

    Then I was against her chest. Mom. Sweet mom was here.

    And I was warm.

    1. rlk67

      “I cannot properly convey just how thankful I am that I wasn’t stuck inside Honey for all those months.”–

      Your description of Honey, and really everything else, was perfect. This is a classic, Pete. This should be at the front of your portfolio. And a money winner if there’s ever a contest to enter with this type of subject!

  28. JRSimmang

    The name Ambrose Smith rings an odd, blood-thirsty bell to me. Have you used the name before? If not, there’s some familiarity here that I can’t argue with. You’ve pulled me, this sucker for blood-suckers, in.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Well Pete this was quite a journey
        I love the POV from the baby’s perspective. Most of all I agree with every review here and there are a lot of responses
        A brilliant and sensitive piece of work that the public is looking for.

  29. ClutteredThoughts

    This wasn’t the first time I’d been trapped on a world, but it was the first time I’d had to escape in order to save a life.I guess you’d say it was my life.

    I cursed everything as I dragged him – me – ah, whatever – out of the demented remains of the ship. Thankfully the insulars had engaged and we didn’t need to deal with any toxic substances, but we had the much more immediate problem of surviving our current circumstances. And I was the only conscious one, his brain still adapting to the change in probabilities between our universes.

    The world was roiling around us, some godforsaken desert still undergoing major tectonic shifts. Canyons formed and disappeared in the space of a breath, mountains clashed for a piece of land to exist on and crumbled; I shouldn’t have even been able to stand. But I had to prove my theory.

    As I’ve said, the man I was trying to save was me, but at the same time a wholly different person. For one thing, he wasn’t supposed to die in two weeks, the virgin blood of a battle that would spark a multiverse war. If we could just switch places-

    Sand flew in my face, pressed into glass from the pressure. In the distance, lava spewed upwards from where a landmass had ripped itself in half, releasing the magma below. I finally fell, dropping him. His hand fell open to reveal…

    … no, it wasn’t. It surely wasn’t. They didn’t _exist_ anymore, exploited by ancient peoples until their extinction millennia ago. But there it was, breathing and slowly extracting blood from a tube inserted into his wrist. A biolock for probability-travel.

    Would my DNA work? We were only twelve probabilities apart; hardly a difference at all. Fumbling and cursing as the sand endeavored to bury us, I flicked the eye of the Hopper open. It was orange; we were so close to the red band of universes. I had to try.

    Wrapping my legs around my other self to secure him, I gently extracted the needle-end tube from his wrist, releasing a stream of blood. The Hopper became agitated, writhing on the other end of the tube, but I forced my hand steady and forced the needle into my vein.

    Blood gushed up the tube, spreading through the semi-transparent body of the Hopper, and I grabbed him tighter as we were yanked back to my home dimension.

    My house was disheveled, covered in my own research. This universe hadn’t progressed to probability travel; only I even thought it was possible. And here I was, proven right. I checked the Hopper’s eye. Red.

    As my other self recuperated on my bed, I set next to him a note explaining the war to come, the consequences; why he had to take my place and make my research into reality for the Multiverse. And before he could wake up, I took a vial of his blood, plugged in the Hopper, and disappeared.

    1. JRSimmang

      You know, Cluttered, I like the “other world” and not “universe” approach. It adds to the MC’s sense of confusion and chaotic uncertainty. I wonder if he’s specially attenuated for probability travel, that the secret lies in his, and his alone, genetic makeup.

      1. ClutteredThoughts

        I was actually thinking about this soon after I posted it, and I kind of thought that he’s just traveled around so much it hardly affects him anymore (like weird, multiverse jet lag, I guess?) But maybe he is special that way. Glad you liked it!

        1. JRSimmang

          It could be that the MC’s blood-letting partner is the only one with that special genetic mutation, and maybe the world he’s from has more people like him. Then, he could have an army of Probability Travelers after him.

    2. JosephFazzone

      I would definitely want to read more to fully wrap my head around what’s going on, but the multiple probability genre is fantastic! It definitely has me very interested, and I love the details. I especially loved the line, “his brain still adapting to the change in probabilities”. Feels somewhat like a rebooting process, something I’m working on that’s a bit parallel to this concept. Very cool!

      1. ClutteredThoughts

        Thanks Joseph! I’m a bit obsessed with the idea of multiple universes and dimensions and whatnot which is the only reason I came up with this so quickly.

  30. rlk67

    It was a calm beautiful night. Until we reached that place.

    ‘ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK!’ said the sign. It didn’t mean me. Never did.

    After a few moments of exploration, my young wife started to scream. No, howl.

    “Get me out of here…NOW!” Hmm…she sounded serious. Okay, well, uh…

    We ran around through the place, turning, backtracking. She groaned. “You don’t know, do you?”

    “Well, I…I’ve been here before…years ago.” She got me. I was stuck.

    She began to cry. Throw in a few more groans, some grunts, perhaps.

    A voice from heaven! “Hey, need help down there?” Wow, direct communication.

    “Yes, yes!” I pleaded. “But I don’t see you!”

    “Don’t worry…I see you. Just follow what I say.”

    My wife puffed. “We’re not gonna…make it…are we?”

    “Of course we will,” I said, following rule 65c of the International Husband’s Manual.

    “Left…now, turn right! Good, now another right, ok, left again…” The voice commanded, and I obeyed.

    Finally, the way out! Oh, bless your heart, whoever you are. I quickly guided my wife to the car, and we took off.

    ********
    “Daddy!”

    “Yes, Ariella?” she was in tears.

    “Tommy told me that I wasn’t borned, but you buyed me at Walmart four-and-a-half years ago! He said I was on sale!”

    Oh, no. “Tommy! Get over here!”

    “Yeah, dad?”

    “Have you been teasing Ariella again?” Tommy smirked.

    I picked him up and sat him on the counter. “Listen, before you go teasing her, you better know something that we never told you.”

    His eyes opened wide. “What’s that, popsters?”

    “You should know…you yourself were almost born…in a cornfield!”

    He just stared.

    “Really. Your mom and I got lost there and she went into lab….well, she started giving birth to you.”

    “No way.”

    “Yup. It’s quite a story. Ready?” I took a deep breath.

    “This wasn’t the first time I had been trapped inside a cornfield, but it was the first time I had to escape in order to save a life. Here’s what happened.”

    1. writer_sk

      Rlk- great.

      I loved the opening and the urgent and mysterious nature of it.

      The ending section and kids’ dialogue are priceless.

      Well written and well edited piece. It says a lot without being too wordy.

  31. Russ

    This wasn’t the first time I had been trapped inside a refrigerator, but it was the first time I had to escape in order to save a life. Here’s what happened.
    You see, I am a mouse. And I was just mining my own business, scouting out the room, and I saw that the boy had left the wonderful refrigerator door wide open, and he was nowhere in sight.
    So me and my friend, Buster, ran out from under the bed, and charged the fridge. I saw cheese, beautiful cheese, at the bottom of the refrigerator, and it must have been brand new, I tell you, brand new. The smell was wonderful.

    I was busy, inside the fridge actually, getting a nice chunk for me and my buddy, when that dang cat came out of nowhere and attacked my friend who was right on the floor below me. The cat’s attack closed the fridge, and now there I was, inside the dark fridge, and my friend was down there trying to escape the cat. But I had to get out. That cat was terrified of me. I was bigger than my friend, and I had successfully scratched its nose a few times. It avoids me. A cat afraid of a mouse.
    So I was there, trapped in the fridge, claustrophobic already, when I heard the boy come back into the room. He yelled, probably seeing my friend down there, probably helplessly trapped in a corner with the cat ready to pounce. But then, to my amazement, the fridge door opened. The boy reached his hand inside to grab something. I bit his hand, he yelled, and then I ran for it. I charged the cat, who was attempting to eat my friend. The cat hissed and darted away.
    I was now with my friend in the corner of the boy’s room. The boy ran out of the room, probably out to get some broom or something to kill us. I don’t know. We ran down under his bed, and went to safety.
    I forgot the cheese though. Oh well.

    1. JRSimmang

      At first I thought, “oh, no, Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls” and Indiana Jones. Thank goodness you steered me in an altogether different direction. This was a fun narrative, and accurate to how I think a mouse, given the intellect, would react to that situation: paradise found, paradise lost.

  32. JosephFazzone

    “Facts, Adams,” Detective Brumbage said tapping his notepad angrily. “What really happened?”

    “This wasn’t the first time I had been trapped inside an abandoned sugar mill, but it was the first time I had to escape in order to save a life. Here’s what happened.”

    Brumbage flaunted his annoyance with an exorbitant sigh.

    Adams flushed with uncertainty. “You don’t believe me?”

    Brumbage groaned, “Exactly how many abandoned sugar mills are there, and why do you keep getting trapped in them?”

    “Let’s not quibble about details,” Adams screeched in his defense.

    “Your uncle’s the chief,” Brumbage said as he leaned. “If I had my way…”

    “You’d send me to parking enforcement,” Adams waved off his insult. “Yeah, yeah, big scary detective. Do you want to know what happened or not?”

    “I want the truth,” Brumbage yelled.

    “You can’t handle the truth!” Adams screamed back.

    Brumbage reached for his gun, but Detective Scarborough was quicker. “Hang on, Al. Let’s hear the kid out before we take his head off.”

    Adams chanted, “I’m a hero! I’m a hero!”

    Scarborough played good cop better than most. He just had a way with people. “One step at a time,” he cautioned Adams. “Brumbles is going have an aneurysm if you keep squawking.”

    “You guys should be giving me medals. I solved the case, and saved a life.” Adams was hurt and annoyed.

    “Just one bullet?” Brumbage asked Scarborough again.

    “Just go on with the story,” Scarborough said, ignoring Brumbage.

    Adams clapped happily. “Okay, so what could I do? I was trapped, and there the janitor who said if I let him go, he’d turn states evidence. We got out before the whole place blew up.”

    They looked at the abandoned building.

    “Blew up?”

    “Self-destruct sequence,” Adams smiled. “I saved his life.”

    “Where is the janitor?” Scarborough asked with all the patience he could muster.

    “Drug dealers employ janitors?”

    “It’s not even a sugar mill,” Scarborough said pointing. “The signs Al’s Precision Metal.”

    “I prefer sugar mill.” Adams said with his arms crossed.

    Scarborough shook his head. Brumbage said, “Whatever, continue.”

    “So, yeah, we got out before it exploded. I saved his life, and I’m a hero.”

    “The building didn’t explode.” Brumbage noted.

    “It could have.” Adams countered.

    “Did you see the device?” Scarborough asked.

    “Device?” Adams looked confused.

    “The bomb, idiot!” Brumbage yelled.

    Adams looked at both men in shock. The question had an obvious answer as far as he was concerned. “Well when there’s a bomb in the building, do you stop and look for it, or do you get out of the building?”

    Scarborough snapped. “What would a hero do?”

    Adams stood there for a minute contemplating before he said, “Well, I saved his life.”

    “Who?” The detectives asked.

    “The janitor,” Adams said as if it was obvious.

    “And, where is he?” Scarborough.

    “He’s uh…he’s uh…” Adams looked around. “That’s funny, he was here a second ago.”

    “What did he look like?”

    “Black hair, goatee, big ole tattoo of a snake going down his neck.”

    “Right,” Brumbage said. He held up a picture for Adams. “Did he look like this?”

    “Hey, yeah,” Adams said. “But how did you…”

    “Show you the picture of Nero Benavidez the crime boss for the Redanza Clan? Gee, I don’t know, maybe because he was the guy we were here to apprehend.”

    Adams head bowed in shame. “Oh.”

    “One bullet,” Brumbage pleaded with Scarborough. “Right in the temple, he won’t even notice.”

    “Uncle’s going to kill me,” Adams said with a small sniff.

    “We can only hope,” Brumbage said.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      This was extremely funny. I love to here about people who are Dip Shi*s. It’d not that I haven’t run into them in the construction business, God bless their small brains but your’s is totally over the top. Nice form this week Joseph.

  33. cosi van tutte

    The width of the prison cell was five inches smaller than the average cell. Doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, unless you’re trying to pace.

    Ambrose Smith was trying to pace.

    One.

    Two.

    Three.

    Four.

    And half of five.

    And he was up against the bars again.

    He bared his fangs at them.

    This wasn’t the first time he’d been trapped in a prison cell and it would undoubtedly not be his last. If he could escape.

    I need to get out of here.

    I need to escape.

    He thought about the woman he loved.

    Barbara Addleston.

    He leaned his head against the warm metal bars and tried to refrain from hyperventilating.

    Tonight is the last night of her ex’s transformation into a full werewolf. She said that she would stay inside tonight. But I don’t have my cell phone. If she tries to call me, it will go straight to voicemail. She’ll wonder why I’m not answering. She’ll wonder if I’m mad at her.

    She’ll wonder if I’m dead.

    She’ll go to Kevin’s house. That will be the first place she’ll go.

    He won’t know her.

    He’ll attack her.

    He’ll bite her.

    I have to get out of here.

    For the first time in my life, I have to escape to save someone else.

    He unsheathed his claws.

    I will escape.

    I will.

    He attacked the bars over and over with a ferocity that would have scared away a lesser vampire.

    Probably would have scared away a gargoyle.

    The bars were solid iron.

    Thick and strong.

    They didn’t stand a chance.

    They fell.

    Little by little.

    Lot by lot.

    Until there was a hole big enough for him to slip through.

    He slipped through and ran.

    Elsie Vansing was nowhere in his mind.

    Just Barbara.

    I’ll be home soon.

    Be safe, Barbara.

    Please be safe.

      1. cosi van tutte

        Thank you so much, Joseph! Sorry I’m so late in replying. I’ve been in the hospital since August 30th. I had my small computer with me, but it didn’t have my Writer’s Digest password saved on it. But I am home now! Yay! So, I’m catching up on my comments. 🙂

    1. JRSimmang

      The name Ambrose Smith rings an odd, blood-thirsty bell to me. Have you used the name before? If not, there’s some familiarity here that I can’t argue with. You’ve pulled me, this sucker for blood-suckers, in.

      1. cosi van tutte

        Thank you JRS! If Ambrose Smith sounds familiar to you, it’s because he was one of my reoccurring prompt characters from a couple of years ago.

        He hasn’t been showing up to often around here nowadays because I’ve gone and given him a blog home all of his own where he can (and does) get into all manner of trouble. 🙂

    2. ReathaThomasOakley

      Cosi, I know a lot is happening in your life right now, but it’s always great when you are here. Ambrose’s frustration is captured masterfully.

    3. writer_sk

      Cosi, neat story!

      The frantic creature’s monologue was so well done.

      It is hard to write in that way but I feel you’ve mastered that style. I could hear more of this if u got it! I want to see if he gets to Kevin’s!

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Sorry about the hospital bit. When you get home you will feel a lot better. It has to be trying to write in a strange place. I can not manage it Al all. Nice story, keeps the reader totally in focus and anxious to find out what happens next maybe you can work part two in another prompt. I remembered that Ambrose also in your other stories

        Keep your chin.up girl, you’ll be fine and out of there before you can turn around.

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