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I Think I’m a Clone Now

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

Ah, back home and time to relax. Long weeks are brutal. Is that the television you hear? Well you haven’t been home all day so you decide to check it out, thinking you left it on. As you enter the room you see the television is indeed on. And you’re already sitting there watching it. What’s going on here?

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591 Responses to I Think I’m a Clone Now

  1. Augie says:

    Da Pathetic Era

    Over 2-million years ago, just after the Paleolithic period, these rare cave-mobsters started the Pathetic period.

    The God father slams his fist on the stone slab, “Stupid’s did ya collect da dinosaur tusk?”

    Mo moves his beard out of the way, “Do you live in a cave?”

    Tony whacks Mo with a giant bone, ‘Stupid, dat’s a metaphor!”

    Mo slams Tony with his club, “ Stupid, we wacked that freakin dinosaur yesterday!”

    The boss holds his head. “How is it, you two stupid’s can’t die?”

    Another cave-mobster rushes in.

    “Boss, dares a Chicken-annosaurus to da north. It wacked da boys at the stash cave!”

    The godfather rubs his fist.

    ‘hmmmm.’

    “Grab your spears and clubs, I got’s a mission for you two.”

    2 million years later…

    The godfather slams his hand on the desk, “stupid’s! You blew up my yacht, burnt down my mansion, why cant you do anything right? And why can’t you die?”

    Mo chuckles, “ well… boss. Ya gotta admit we did a good job blowing up yer stuff.”

    The boss holds his head, these two mobsters cant do anything right!

    Another mobster runs into the office, “excuse godfather. I jus got news from Jimmy up North.

    Apparently a bunch of freakin grizzly bears broke inta da stash cave en wacked da entire crew.”

    ’ The godfather rubs his fist, ‘hmmmm.’

    “Men, I got’s a mission for you two.”

    They walk into the cave………

    Tony hits Mo with his bone, “Stupid, what da heck is a Chicken-annosaurus?”

    Mo laughs, “ Boss said it is a tiny bird.”

    ……

    Tony smacks Mo in the back of the head, “ Stupid, how many Kola bears did da boss say?”

    Mo laughs, “ Who cares, lets blast em!”

    ….

    The cave-mobsters stand in shock as the giant chicken charges them.

    ‘Baaak BAAAAK ba ba ba ba BAAAAAK”

    Tony and Mo scream. “Ahhhhhhh—Ahhhhhhhh!”

    With one swift move, the chicken-annosaurus swallows the mobsters and burps. The prehistoric poultry bird gets dizzy as rosemary, garlic, and tomato paste coats its stomach. It shifts stomachs, and burps.

    …….

    ROAAAAAR, huh huh huh huh ROARRRRRR!

    Tony and Mo run deep in the cave.

    “Ahhhhhhh—Ahhhhhhh!”

    They hide behind two giant eggs.

    “Hey, Mo, what was dat?”

    The eggs shake, “Don’t know, but its freaking cold in here!”

    In unison they ask: “What?”-“What?”-“What?”-“What?”

    In unison they scream: “Ahhh!”-“Ahhh!”-“Ahhh!”“Ahhh!”

    The Grizzly slaps the two giant eggs out of the way, sending them rolling out the cave.

    “Ouch-ouch-ouch-OUCH!”—-“Ouch-ouch-ouch-OUCH!”

    The eggs crash below………

    4 days later….

    The godfather, convinced that the two idiots are dead, pours a glass of scotch and turns on the news.

    NEWS FLASH, Previously Filmed footage of a Grizzly attack, and how these men survived!”

    The godfather spits out his scotch seeing the reporter interview Mo.

    “Can you tell us how you and your long distant cousins survived the attack?”

    Mo chuckles, “ Ya see, we didn’t know dat our cousins were hiding in da eggs. We wacked dat Kola bear ta-gether!”

    Tony chuckles, “ Seems like nuttin can kill us.”

    The godfather jumps out of his chair, “NOOOOO!!”

    Footsteps enter his office…

    “Hello Boss”—“Hello Boss”—-“Hello Boss”—-“Hello Boss.”

  2. I remember the first time it occurred. It was deeply unsettling. At the surface it seemed like a home invasion. Now I wish it had been. At least at some point the invaders leave, and they certainly don’t come and go as they please afterwards. I sat idly on my couch binge watching a season of television on Netflix. It was almost five in the afternoon. I hadn’t showered, put on pants, or even brushed my teeth. My right hand was absent mindedly rummaging inside a ravaged box of Cheez-its. My left was tucked deeply in the waist band of my underwear. A can of Dr. Pepper, nearly empty, rested not far from my reach on the coffee table. I had been musing about the idea of ordering a pizza when I heard my deadbolt turning over in my door. The metallic clink clank sent my heart sputtering. I watched as the knob turned and the door began to swing inwards. Panic thoughts of what I should do flooded my brain. My gun wasn’t even in the same room as I, but could I run to it in time? My cell phone was on the kitchen table. If only I had ordered the pizza it would be in my hand to call 911 with.
    The figure that appeared struck me and I was still. He was a man that was well dressed for business. He wore a tailored blue suit and an impressively patterned tie. His fine Italian leather shoes nearly glowed in the doorway light. When he set down his briefcase an impressive Breitling watch flashed the air, but he looked weary and gave off the immediate impression of exhaustion with his face.
    His face…His face…it was mine. There were obvious differences, but they were small. I mean it had a five o’clock shadow, but you could tell it had been clean shaved in the past day or so. My face was cloaked in a play-off beard. The corners of the eyes had crow’s feet and they framed dark circles beneath the same brown eyes I possessed. Our eyes met as he began to close the door. Then after surveying the condition of the home he sighed and spoke.
    “My god, you’re worthless.” Oh good my delusion of my successful self was back to break my lazy delusional balls.
    “Ouch.” I retorted.
    “Have you even eaten an actual meal?”
    “I was just about to handle that before you scared the shit outta me!” I shouted to myself.
    His/my eyes didn’t waver as he strolled closer to me and kicked our feet off the couch. He/I wiped the seat before smoothing our suit jacket to sit. Mid motion we stop and look at me.
    “Have you masturbated on this side of the couch today?” we ask me curtly. My shameful silence answers, and better me looks at us with disgust. Then with a flick of the arm clears a place to sit on the coffee table across from me. Trash tumbles across the living room floor.
    “Look,” better I begins. “I am working my ass off to make something of myself. If I keep this up I will be partner at the firm by the end of the year. It kills me to come home and see you sitting on this damn couch not doing a damn thing but wasting away. Look at you. Look at us! We’re completely depressed. You can’t even put pants on. We sit here and watch shitty reality TV all day and rub one out to the real housewives of wherever the hell. Don’t you want more than this? Don’t we want some kind of purpose and drive?”
    For some strange reason our first line of defense is point out just how hot some of those housewives on TV actually are. Then before I say it we chastise us and quickly I move on. I can’t really defend my position at the moment. I am depressed and I am lacking purpose. I exhale deeply as other me mirrors my actions.
    “I just don’t want to be stressed out like you. Sure you’re dressed nice but you obviously have a lot of city miles on us. You’re wearing us out. I don’t want to be like that. Don’t you see?”
    “We do. Believe us we do. We’re exhausted. This has kinda been rough,” we reply empathetically. “But hey we can’t live like this either…This place and you are a complete shit hole. We’re better than this for Chris sakes.”
    I can’t argue with us when we’re like this. I survey the area around me and the me in front of us. I get up off the couch and head into the kitchen. We eye me with hopeful eyes as I move. I stretch and reach the fridge. My eyes are on me quizzically as I open the door lean in. I then reappear with a beer in my hand. I crack the ice cold thing open and start chugging.
    “Oh what the hell?” I hear us lament across the room.
    “What? We needed to relax after such a hard day.” He looks down and sees the empty beer in his hand. Then he smiles and wipes our mouth. We’ve come to a mutually delusional compromise. The door to the bedroom opens and we both watch with curiosity as I walk out dressed for school. We begin to fade as I pick up my school bag and walk out the door.

  3. Dennis says:

    Hi Everyone. Sorry I have not been present on the prompts lately but will work hard to start in again this week. I think I’m forgetting how to write :( I’ve been trying to skim them when I have had a chance but no time for comments let alone writing one myself. I’ll probably have to start writing them on the weekend. See you all soon.

  4. derrdevil says:

    This one’s a little too long, dark and vulgar. Sorry in advance, guys. Though, hope you all enjoy.

    Mark Vs. Mark

    The door slammed shut with a harsh thud as Mark entered his lonely apartment. He didn’t bother to lock it – even though the lowliest scum of the earth inhabited every inch if the derelict building. He was tired, fatigued to the point of not giving a shit. He threw the keys into the kitchen sink and slung his coat over the back of the only chair in the bare kitchen, along with his holstered .45, and darted toward the fridge. He knew there was one last beer in there. But when he opened it, it too was like his kitchen – bare. All that remained was the empty six-pack plastic holder.

    He was quiet, as he thought, unable to remember if he finished the beers the night before or not. He had been drinking a lot recently. Whiskey his preferred poison, although downing a few six-packs still got him the buzz he desired.

    It started a year ago, when his old lady cleaned him out and ran away with that cunt of a con artist. How his life had turned to shit since then. Even his own family hated him. They had turned on him like he was a rabid dog, blaming him for the ever-loving Sarah’s departure. He had lost his job in the force after he couldn’t keep his shit together. Now there wasn’t even a beer left for Mark. There was nothing left for Mark. Nothing but silence, in an old decrepit apartment that still had the stink of it’s previous infested inhabitants clinging to the ratty walls. This apartment is so fucking apt, he thought. It reflected his life so perfectly. On the inside and the out.

    The silence would have crept up on him by now, if not for the TV buzzing in the background.

    What the f –, Mark thought. He could swear he switched that thing off. He walked toward the living room. But when he entered through the archway he saw a man, sat in his favourite chair, in the dark of the room, with only the light of the TV highlighting his outline, clutching a beer in his hand, watching the sport news.

    Mark was stunned. He wasn’t expecting anyone over. He knew he had locked the door before he left the place earlier in the day. And no one else had keys to his apartment. But there was no sign of forced entry. None the less, there was only one answer. This was an intruder.

    The intruder was unaware that Mark was there, so he quietly stepped back into the kitchen, slipped out his .45 from the holster and readied himself for confrontation. He returned to the living room, lining up the gun in the direction of the seated man.

    “Alright motherfucker, stop whatever the hell you’re doing and get the hell out of my house before I shoot you.”

    “Oh, hey there. Didn’t hear you come in,” the man said, standing up and placing the beer on top of the TV. Mark felt an eeriness wash over him as he watched the man tap the TV before he placed it down, as he himself had done so many times before. “Was watching the highlight’s to the 49er’s game. Epic! What an –”

    “Shut the hell up and get out of my apartment. I don’t care about your fucking game.”

    “Okay, relax. Don’t do anything stupid. Look, look at my face.” The intruder stepped closer, towards the light.

    “Get the fuck back!” he screamed with intensity. “Keep your distance. I swear I’ll fucking shoot.”

    “Okay, okay,” the intruder said, stopping on his heels, raising his arms in defence.

    “You’ve picked the wrong day to mess with me, fucker.” Mark said.

    “That’s actually why I’m here, Mark,” he said, leaning toward the afternoon light creeping in through the window.

    “Shut up, you crazy crackhead! Just get the fuck out!” Mark paused a moment then continued, “Wait! How the hell do you know my name?” Confusion beggining to set in, dissolving his panic.

    “I know more than that Mark. A whole lot more. You see, I’m–”

    Mark yelped as the man moved into the light, finally revealing his face. “What the fuck is going on?”

    “Relax! It’s me. It’s you. I’m hear to help you.”

    “Help me?” Mark asked. “What the fuck! How are you going to help me? Who the fuck– What the fuck are you?” The raised gun dropped a slight, his mind rattled, distracted by all the new information to process.

    “I know what you’re about to do. I’ve done it before. And I’m hear to tell you that it’s a path that you don’t want to go down, Mark. Your wife isn’t coming back. No matter what you do. So what if she ran away with that piece of shit? What you’re about to do is going to make things a hell of a lot worse. You’re a good man, Mark. You’ve just been handed a real shitty deal. Do what we all do. Make do with what you’ve got.

    “I’ve lived a long, hard life, Mark. I paid for my sins – our sins. And I’m still paying for it. The same sins that you’re about to make. You don’t get a second chance. Not for actions like this. But I’ve learnt, a little too late mind you, that we need to live through the hard stuff if we’re going to see it through to the other end still in one piece. Mind, body and soul.” Tears began to well up in Mark’s eyes at that point, the gun too heavy in his hands. “So you can’t kill him, Mark. You’re going to be in a whole new world of pain if you pull that trigger on him. Believe me. I know.”

    “Really? You’re from — me from — the future?” he asked, confused, calm, but completely frazzled.

    “Yes. And I know what I’m talking about.”

    “Maybe you do. Suppose it’s true. Then maybe it’s better if I pull this trigger on myself.”

    “No, Mark. Don’t! That’s not going to solve anything. I’ve been there too. Plenty times.”

    “It is. It will solve everything. It will make things easier on everyone. It’s the only answer. It has to be.”

    “You’re wrong, Mark.”

    “You don’t see. All this time, I thought he was the monster. Coming into my life like that, and ripping it apart. Taking Sarah from me. She was my whole life. My dreams, my hopes, my life. I blamed him for breaking that.” Now it was future Mark’s turn to weep as the memories flooded through him. “He wasn’t the monster. I was!” Mark asserted, his voice raised a pitch. “I killed it a long time ago. Killed it for her. For me. My short temper! My dumb actions! Always blaming her for every little fuck up in my life. It was me! I’m the monster, Mark! I pushed her away!” His anger began to flare up again. “This would be a better world if I wasn’t in it.”

    “Don’t, Mark. It’s not the right way.”

    “It’s the only way!” He lifted the gun to his head. “You see, it’s too late.”

    Future Mark’s face dropped thinking the worst. “Too late?”

    “You’re too late. I already killed him.”

    “No, Mark…”

    “Too late!” Mark inserted the tip of the .45 into his mouth.

    “NO, MARK!!!”

  5. Augie says:

    He sneaks across you screen; the feeling of being watched is overwhelming….

    tippie——toe——-tippie——–toe———-

    “hello, hello? Is dare any body out dare?”

    tippie——–toe————tippie———toe

    He ducks under the ad and taps on the screen, ‘clunk-clunk-clunk’

    “Anyone out dare?”

    tippie———-toe——-tippie——-toe

    “Huh, what’s dis? He looks at the left side of the screen…

    566 tippie—–toe Responses to tippie—-toe Think I’m a

    Clone tippie—–toe Now

    The screen shakes violently, Mo falls to the bottom of the screen. The giant 6 hits him in the head….

    The screen shakes more “shunk-shunk- ting “

    tippie-toe-tippie-toe-tippie-toe-tippie-toe-tippie-toe

    “Ahhh! He looks at the change… 567

    tippie-toe-tippie-toe……………..

    “Hello?”

    Hey, gotta laugh at dat!

  6. donnajg says:

    Please excuse structure. This is my first submission ever. Comments appreciated.

    She glanced at her watch as she unlocked the front door. “1:11. Huh? Funny. So…all in all about… “, she calculated quickly, “85 hours since Monday, only 85 hours to do the so-called impossible. One senator left and she would have convinced enough for the bill to be passed. Probably”, she grinned, “definitely her finest job yet. Finally one for the working man!”
    With a self-satisfied smile she threw her briefcase and keys onto the landing as she continued down the hall to the kitchen for a well-deserved nightcap. Lost in her congratulatory musings, it took a few moments before she realize she was hearing voices. “What the”, as she stopped. Light from her living room. She moved in that direction. “T.V.” “How the?”, “last time I watched”, “ crap wasn’t even home last night” “waste of freakin’ hydro” fired through her thoughts.
    She actually screamed. Loud. She half turned to run.
    “What the Fuck” she whispered, frozen. The person sitting there was her. She stared at her own face staring at her.
    “Hmm, not quite the eloquence I’m known for but, all in all, articulated quite effectively” the other she said in her own voice and manner. She rose and stepped forward extending her hand. “Evelyn Rotus, I presume?”
    Without a thought her own hand rose to shake “yes and you are”
    “Why you of course, well so to speak,” –
    “All-in-all, I presume, so to speak” Damn was she really that bad with clichés? “No duh?” She quipped, cringing inwardly, trying to pull her hand back, but the other would not let go.
    She continued, “Yes, well, to keep things moving, no I’m not your long lost twin, yes I’m a clone. Yes it’s possible, at least in 2067, yes I’m from the future, yes time travel is possible. You have been deemed dangerous to the Co-operative Collective as per DHS directive 6875439 in regards to interior terrorists. I have been created to extinguish your existence.”
    She pulled her off balance, reaching for the strange device the other was aiming towards her. They fell, knocking over the side table, grappling for the device, rolling several times across the room. A sudden glare of blue light.
    She lay back, panting. Alone.

  7. k.spicer says:

    One more quick scene on this prompt before they change it.

    “So you don’t want me to go with you tonight Butch?”

    “No Herald, it’s too dangerous. If someone sees me I need to be able to escape as quickly as I can. The last thing I need is to have you straggling behind. You couldn’t keep up, and if you got caught you’d spill the beans about everything…I know you.”

    “I wouldn’t tell anyone Butch, honest.”

    “I can’t take that chance Herald. This isn’t going to be like the others times. There’s going to be a lot of people around and I’ll have to be at my best to pull it off.”

    “I don’t like it Butch.”

    “I don’t care if you don’t like it Herald. That’s the way it’s going to be.”

    “Well, what am I supposed to do while you’re gone?”

    “Read a book, watch TV, I don’t care…just stay out of sight till I get back.”

    “I hate you Butch.”

    “Yea well, you’re not my first choice for a partner either, but for now we’re stuck with each other. Besides, you need me; you know how the Boss feels about you.”

    “I hate the Boss too.”

    “I’ve got to leave now, but as soon as I get back I’ll be sure to tell her you said that, Herald.”

    When the door shut behind me I went straight to the car and drove to the nearby college dorm where I parked several blocks away and waited. I checked my watch; she should be coming along any minute now .

    I look into the rearview mirror and comb the one patch of long hair that I have left over my bald spot; I want to look my best. The Boss constantly makes fun of my hair but Sally doesn’t seem to mind. Sally has always been friendly to me; and it’s not just because I’m her instructor either, I can see it in her eyes. I’m glad I didn’t bring that wimpy Herald along, he’d just mess things up for me.

    I see a familiar figure walking up the sidewalk and I step out of the car and head towards the darkened walkway. As I near her I smile and wave. “Sally, what a surprise, what are you doing out here after dark by yourself? You know school policy.”

    “Professor Strangely, what are you doing here?”

    “I had a tutoring session and was just walking to clear my head. Where are you going?”

    “Back to the dorm, I’ve got a lot of studying to do.”

    “How about I walk you back? You really shouldn’t be out at night by yourself.”

    “I always walk home after work…I’ll be fine.”

    “Nonsense, I’ll walk you back.”

    “Okay.” She agreed.

    When I returned home after a couple hours, my wife was sitting on the sofa watching the nightly news. I walked over and smiled at her. “How were your shows tonight dear?”

    “Same as always Herald…but if you were ever home you’d know that.”

    “Yes dear.”

    “And stop calling me dear! You know I hate that. Sit down over there and be quiet while I watch the news. They said another college girl was killed tonight. That’s the third one this month.”

    “Yes dear.”

    “I told you to stop calling me dear! Now don’t make me hurt you Herald…I told you before, if you have to call me anything call me Boss!”

    “Yes dear…I mean, yes Boss!”

    “That’s better, now sit over there and keep your mouth shut.”

    Walking across the room I stop. Herald who was waiting for me to return home was staring at me like some kind of scared child.

    “They said that someone butchered that poor girl.” I heard my wife say.

    Staring at Herald, I winked and smiled. “Yes Boss.”

    “Sit down for crying out loud.” My wife said. “And stop staring at yourself in that mirror…your giving me the creeps!”

  8. Augie says:

    Birds of a Feather

    Ever since the old bird moved in, his relationship with his wife has suffered overwhelming damage. The old bird sits on the couch all day smoking cigars, drinking cheap wine, watching mindless talk shows.

    Each day, Tom Hudson returns from work, the old bird hen pecks and nags him. His wife giggles at her mother’s insults and tells Tom, “Don’t take it personally.”

    No longer does he share a bed with his wife, the old bird might hear and give him shit for not being able to afford a child.

    That night in his army cot in the basement, he makes a wish.

    The next morning he walks upstairs, hearing his mother-in-law argue with herself.

    “You old hag, what do you know about chicken and dumplings!”

    “How dare you insult me, granny!”

    “Granny? That worthless son-in-law hasn’t produced a grandchild yet!”

    “Good thing at that! Imagine what a moron his kid would be!”

    Tom walks into the living room, his legs begin to tremble. There stands not one, but two mother-in-laws arguing, slugging down a bottle of wine.

    They turn facing him, and shout in unison, “What are you looking at you worthless piece of crap?”

    Tom backs up in horror, “But there’s two of you! How is this possible?”

    Both old birds put their hands on their hips facing Tom.

    “Well if there were two of you, maybe the rent would be paid on time!”

    “Yes, and my poor dear daughter might be able to move out of this dump you call a home!”

    ………

    The lead detective looks across the table at the man locked in restraints.

    “But Mr. Hudson, there was only one body, sir.”

    Tom raised his head, “I remember during my rage, someone running out of the house as I smashed the wine bottle over the first old bird’s head. Not sure if it was my wife or the other old bag.”

    The detective stares at Tom, “What did you wish for that night?”

    “My wish? HA! I wished the old bag would meet someone she could love. Then hopefully she would move out!”

    9 months later….

    The prison guard escorts Mr. Hudson to the visitor booth.

    Staring at him with raging eyes through the safety glass is the old bird.

    “Nice try, you idiot!”

  9. Observer Tim says:

    This one needs a bit of a sensuality warning. I took my cue from McKevin. It’s still fit to show on TV, assuming the director is clever with the camera angles…

    BEYOND THE GLASS

    The aloe aroma of the fog surrounds and fills me, wrapping me in its warm cocoon of moist comfort. I know I should shower with the bathroom door open; after all, it’s only me in the apartment and the vent fan doesn’t work, but sometimes that fog is a blessing. The mirror is a sheet of white vapour and my reflection doesn’t stare back at me pityingly.

    I pull the door open and the chill air of my room wafts in. I stop; something is very wrong. The lights are off and the old laptop I use for a TV is on. And somebody is sitting on my sofa bed staring at it.

    Panic strikes. I’m dripping from head to foot and the towel is on the sofa. I want to slam the bathroom door. I want to jump for the towel. I want to curl up and whimper. Instead I just stare as she turns her head.

    I start hyperventilating. The face I see is mine. She stares at me with wide eyes and a slack jaw; her chest is pumping rapidly with each tiny breath. Her hair is slicked down against her head and tiny beads of water trickle slowly down her face.

    My hand fumbles and finds the bathroom light switch. Darkness envelops me in its velvety comfort. She’s still there, but it’s much harder for her to see me. I hope.

    “Selena?” Her voice is soft and tentative.

    I fight down the urge to turn and hug the wall. “Who are you?”

    “I’m you Selena, from the other side.”

    “You’re… dead?”

    “No. I’m the one who looks back at you every morning.”

    The shadowy form walks toward me, holding something bulky in her hand. I shrink back, but she holds it forward and it touches my arm. I sense the prickly soft tingle of terrycloth against my skin as she brushes the towel against me. She starts stroking my skin with it in a soft kneading motion. The feel of it causes me to relax just a tiny bit.

    “You’re my reflection, aren’t you? From the mirror?”

    “Uh-huh. I got out.” She sounds as nervous as I feel as she rubs the towel across my back. I feel her back and it’s drying as she dries me. Her skin is warm and soft.

    “B-but that’s im-impossible.”

    “No it’s not. It’s just very difficult. Like looking into your eyes every morning and not being able to hold you.”

    The towel drops and her hands caress my lower back. Nobody’s ever done that before and it sends a shiver of raw anticipation through me. My breathing gets shallow and ragged again, but this time it’s not entirely fear.
    _

    I wake up lying on the carpet in the apartment’s chill morning air. It was all a dream. Figures.

    A whisper kisses my ear. “Good morning, Selena.” She snuggles in tighter and her warm hand touching my stomach makes me gasp.

    • Augie says:

      Great story Tim! What a Sunday morning treat! Thanks!

    • MCKEVIN says:

      Getting in touch with your inner you huh OT? And you should how else do you begin to fill those empty spaces? I have found digging deep inside myself through writing helps me understand other people, the world and my outrageous expectations for them to fulfill me. Eventually, I’ll learn my happiness starts and ends with me. Period! Good story.

    • k.spicer says:

      OT, this was a good scene. Good thing I wasn’t reading it in the bathroom…the mirror would have steamed up! Good job, fun read!

    • Manwe38 says:

      Whoa, that caught me off guard.

      You built the anticipation perfectly here; I could feel the other woman’s yearning.

      Let’s have a sequel…

  10. cmariee says:

    I’m holding the same Aztec patterned pillow on my lap that I often balanced plates on, but this time there is a remote on it. The X-box controller is to my left for easy Netflix access. A bottled water is tucked between the pillow and arm of the sofa. My laptop is closed for the moment and is on the coffee table within reach to appease any moment of weakness.

    I’m thinking I’m a little taller now than I am here. And a little bit more over-weight now too. I look sad. Maybe it’s just what I’m watching. I don’t remember this day, but I remember moments of this place, this time period. But time is like a flowing river and I see the day wash away into another. Am I dreaming?

    I step through the water and there I am. I’m on the sofa. Same view. I’m laying on my side asleep. Cartoons are playing in a loop. My daughter has her favorite snuggle bunny and ice cream pajamas. She lays next to me. The Aztec pillow are thrown on the floor. My laptop on the coffee table still, but I don’t know where the remote is and I don’t look like I care. I look happy exhausted and so comfortable.

    I don’t even think I showered yet that morning and that hair style can not be well-thought out. I’m staring from the kitchen into the living room addition trying to take it all in before the moment leaves. What day was this, I wonder? It looks like a favorite weekend. I wish I was awake to see this. But time is like a flowing river and I see the day wash away into another. Am I dreaming? I am asleep.

    I see myself. I look directly into the past and the future all at once. I reflect into the living room awkwardly like a flowing river. And I notice, I don’t see my accomplishments, or business dress, or stresses, or the holidays. My thoughts revisit those too much anyway and they are narrowing my memory. I see myself at home and not work. Relaxed. Allowing my day to be without a schedule, without a worry about dinner plans. Am I dreaming or could it be a memory? A stream of days taken for granted as if they were not good enough or a part of me.

    I look away for just a moment and my vision becomes hazy. It seems I’ve forgotten how to look for me, how to appreciate the quiet days that are in fact reality.

    • Reaper says:

      This is lovely. The repeated phrases that can be distracting worked for you in this case to create the idea of how normal it is for people to have this reaction to looking at their lives and to focus in on the repetition of decisions. Very artistic. This is at once beautiful, heart warming, heart rending, hope filled and desperately sad. Amazing writing.

      • cmariee says:

        Reaper, Thank you for that. Even after completion I still wasn’t sure… It is quite a different style. But I was hoping it captured how we look at our experiences with a narrow lens and often wish we could remember more. I’m glad it had that all over result for you. That certainly makes me feel more pleased with it.

    • Observer Tim says:

      This is touching, cmariee. The repetition gives things a serene quality. This might be an early step on the MC’s road to inner peace.

  11. Icabu says:

    Opening the door, Jerry knew the week had been as long as it felt. He’d left the TV on and didn’t even remember watching it that morning. Catching a glimpse of someone on the couch watching it brought a brief smile – Tamera must have come in. No doubt wondering where he’d been all week.

    But it wasn’t Tamera.

    “What are you doing here?” Jerry asked, his own face turning toward him.

    “You should know, dear twin, that there isn’t a prison made that can hold me.”

    Authorities hadn’t notified Jerry that his twin brother Gerry had escaped. Again.

    “What have you done now?” Jerry asked, keeping a cautious distance from his brother. He doubted any identical twins could be more different than he and his brother.

    “Nothing to worry yourself about.”

    The grin his brother bared unnerved Jerry. As did the fact that Gerry was wearing Jerry’s own clothes and apparently making himself right at home. In the home that Jerry had inherited after Gerry had brutally murdered their parents a dozen years ago.

    “I don’t know what you’re planning, but it won’t work,” Jerry said, slowly pulling his phone out of his pocket, already pressing the ‘911’ button.

    Knowing Jerry’s call would be recorded by 911, Gerry put his foolproof plan into action.

    “You can’t come into my home!” Gerry screamed, leaping from the couch. “You belong in prison forever!”

    “What?” Jerry mumbled, caught off guard.

    The brief scuffle with the knife would play well in court, Gerry thought, standing over Jerry’s body. Working quickly, Gerry grabbed his brother’s wallet and other personal items. When the police arrived, they found a very distraught ‘Jerry’ bemoaning the fact that he had to kill his escaped evil twin. For good effect, Gerry had carved a couple of ‘defensive’ wounds on his hands.

    As the police were finishing up, a soft knock came at the door. ‘Jerry’ smiled. “Tamera,” he rasped out. “I’m so glad you came.”

    Finally finished, Tamera informed the police that ‘Jerry’ would be staying at her apartment. “It’s too painful here,” she told them. Everyone agreed.

    Entering Tamera’s apartment, she turned and leaped into ‘Jerry’s’ arms. “Are you positive this will work?”

    “Foolproof,” ‘Jerry’ replied.

    • Reaper says:

      That was seriously twisted and well done. Wasn’t expecting that at the end. The confusion caused by Jerry and Gerry played well into your lead in to the identity switch and how easy the mistake would be to make. Also I found it believable that anyone saddled with parents that would name twins like that would lead at least one of them to committing homicide on them.

    • MCKEVIN says:

      Good one. I didn’t see the ending twist coming at all. Good job.

    • k.spicer says:

      That’s why I never trust anyone who looks like me! And if they act like me I don’t even talk to them! Good story Icabu.

    • Observer Tim says:

      A lovely and wicked take with a creepy twist at the end. I was wondering why Gerry was contacting Tamera; I had visions of a grisly end for her. Of course things might not go smoothly once the police start really investigating. Identical twins have different fingerprints and different signatures, and the authorities will be especially alert for changes of personality especially where there’s a psychopath/sociopath involved.

      This would make an excellent episode of a police procedural…

  12. rle says:

    I hope this is better than my last few posts. Lately, I don’t feel as though I’ve been putting forth my best effort. I’ve been under a bit of stress and the last two or three have felt forced. I feel a little better about this one, I guess I’ll let you guys decide.

    ————————————————————-

    After a long hot week on an asphalt crew, Friday afternoon had finally arrived. I was growing too old for this. This job was a young mans game and although I felt every muscle in my body, I also felt a certain measure of pride that a man of fifty could still keep up the pace with young strong bucks half my age.

    As I slowly sauntered toward a row of drab solid doors ahead of me, I fished in my front pocket for the keys that would grant me access to the paradise that was the Sleep Tight Motel. It certainly wasn’t my two story, quiet suburban house, but, in the last seven weeks, it had become my home.

    As I turned the key in the lock, I heard a noise from inside, it was the TV. Apparently I’d forgotten to turn it off that morning before leaving for work. There had been so much on my mind lately, it was a wonder I was able to remember my own name. If my foreman knew how fragile an instrument my mind had become in the past few weeks, he would have had second thoughts about letting me operate heavy equipment. Fortunately, I’d learned to be quite the master at masking my distraction.

    When I stepped inside, I was caught completely off guard. Sitting there in the chair I normally relaxed in was a complete stranger. I tossed the greasy bag that contained my gourmet dinner onto the bed then reached for my waistband where I’d been carrying a little snub nose .32 that my father had given me. When I wrapped my hand around it’s handle, I noticed something was askew with the stranger; he hadn’t even flinched when I walked in. Then I realized this was no stranger at all, it was me.

    I slowly released my hold on the little handgun and sat down on the foot of the bed, trying to wrap my head around what was going on. Little by little, things began to come into focus. I remembered how I came to be here in this rat hole motel. I remembered how I had sacrificed everything; my nice home, my nice family, my nice life, and for what? A few nights of passion with a sultry redhead young enough to be my daughter? I tried to justify it by thinking of how she had made me feel; young, strong, important. Nothing at all like the old pathetic soul who sat in my chair watching MASH reruns.

    How long had I been here watching the antics of Hawkeye, Klinger, and Radar? Had I just dreamed I’d gone to work while sitting here? Was I dreaming now? Was I dying, or was I already dead?

    Suddenly, I had an overwhelming sense of urgency in the pit of my gut. I knew what I had to do. Actually I’d known all along, but I knew I had to act fast before I lost my nerve.

    I slowly rose from the bed. I pulled out the .32 and folded my fingers around it’s tiny grip. I leveled the barrel at the back of my head, exhaled and pulled the trigger.

    • Reaper says:

      I for one love this. There is a quiet sense of desperation and regret to it. It is well told and achingly sad. A true tragedy in the Shakespearean sense of the word. More than that it has a special place for me because it is so classical. In the sense of you have written a true antihero in how that term was meant originally rather than how we use it now. That is very difficult to do and keep a story interesting but you pulled it off like a master.

    • Augie says:

      rie, normally I give people short responses because I don’t want to sound like I know what I am talking about (being a new writer). I do want to let you know though how I feel about your stories from a reader’s perspective. Pick any sentence from your story. It is action packed, full of description, and not a single wasted word. You make reading easy and that is a gift. Great plot, power sentences, good job…

    • k.spicer says:

      Rie, this was another great scene. I’ve liked all of your posts that I’ve read and I hope you keep putting them out. I’m a gluten for a good story. Thanks Rie.

      • k.spicer says:

        Can you believe I used the word gluten rather than “GLUTTON”? I guess I’m going to have to send my responses to my editor before I post them. Sorry for the brain fart. Oh well, what’s one more mistake?

    • Observer Tim says:

      A dark and depressing tale, rle. You poured the despair in with a double-helping and it really felt like the natural option. A more admirable man would have started rebuilding his life (or reclaiming it if he could), but the MC is more human than that.

    • Augie says:

      test received. (ha ha)

      • Reaper says:

        Haha. I had to test if the link was showing up since it doesn’t on the old posts. Since a number of people have asked to know when my book is up I linked my “author page” now that it is. Unfortunate side effect being people will now know my real name. :)

        • Augie says:

          well, what ever your name is, I think we all know you. Your reaper. I m excited to read it and congratulations on your promotion to blue. (ha! I had to get that dig in!)

          • Augie says:

            Ohh… Now I know we will get along! Cant wait to read it Reaper!

          • Reaper says:

            I feel like a staffer on Blizzard’s site now! Yes, recovering WoW addict so it’s not as bad as it sounds that I know that. I can’t wait for you to read it either and am glad we will get along. :) I have a friend who just bought it and her daughter, who wants to be an author when she grows up, was apparently jealous and wanted it on her Kindle too. My friend said she said no and was a mean mom. I told her she was a good mom keeping my book from a child that young.

        • margi33 says:

          Wow, Reaper. Obviously I missed a lot being gone a few months. Congrats on the book (and the blue name)!

        • Reaper– Congrats on the book! I’m going to buy it if I can (don’t have a Kindle, but still). Welcome to the prestigious “blue club”. :-)
          P.S. Nice hat.

          • Reaper says:

            Thank you Bilbo. I appreciate that. I love that hat! But it is getting old and needs to be replaced. Well I have a lot of friends like me that don’t have an ereader (I was surprised you can buy for all of them off that site) or don’t read books electronically. That’s why I made the physical copy available, thought it is more expensive because of the production costs. Thinking of trying to find a reader to do the audio book option too.

            Anyway. I will say I have warned friends to keep their young kids away from my writing but you sir are of an age and more importantly a maturity level that I hope we raise our children to be able to handle things at. And honestly it is on Amazon so we know it can’t be too bad. With all of that said, hide it under the bed with the… other questionable materials you don’t want your parents to find. I’m assuming you have a TV under there somewhere. ;)

            Thank you again Bilbo, it means a lot.

    • Observer Tim says:

      Nice to see your name in blue, Reaper, and grats on the publication of your book. I’ll have to check it out.

  13. ROCK OF PETER, STIGMA OF CAIN

    “Father, please help me!”

    I could hear the wavering distress in his voice, the pitiful sob of someone in deep remorse—tremors from the chains of hell. He held his head against the wall, huddled in a flowing coat, arms shaking with savage instability. I fingered my rosary. I’d never seen a case like this.

    “What have you done that terrifies you so?”
    He struggled to collect himself, a choking gasp coming from his throat.

    “My heart…it’s desperately wicked! I have drenched myself in evil—“
    His voice cut off again. Moved with compassion, I leaned closer to the grille, saw him trembling.

    “Don’t worry. You can tell me everything.”
    He seemed to calm down, chest still heaving.

    “Everything?”
    I managed a sad smile. “Yes, God will take care of it.”

    He pulled his face up, looking at me with startlingly dark pupils. He began to laugh, a low sound that made my faith disappear.
    ________________________________________________________

    I lived in a small apartment on 3rd and Washington, five floors up with two rooms and loud neighbors. Fumbling with my keys, the custodian dragged his bucket behind me, slopping water onto the cheap carpet.
    I wrenched open the door and its three deadlocks. Work had worn me down, and the mysterious man’s gaze gnawed at me through my opposition.

    The darkness of my room greeted me, a dull glow from the blinds the only light, the kitchen counter and couches black forms. I flicked on the light. The fridge was nearly empty, but I had a Coke left, the fizz tickling my throat. Swallowing, I gazed at the far wall and froze. The crucifix on the wall was upside-down.

    Someone had been here. I walked over, put it back in place, wondered why only that was touched. The tiny metal figurine would give no answers, only hung limp on the decorative wood, icy to the touch.

    The AC shut off, the room descending to a still silence. I could hear a television on, an advertisement blaring. It reminded me how meaningless it all was now, how even religion seemed temporary, red sins washing over its supposed cure. But there was something else, too—it was coming from my bedroom.

    I whirled around from the wall, saw no one. At the door, I listened through. Creaking it open, I found the room empty. It was only when I’d turned off the TV that I heard a voice behind me.

    “Nice to see you could help that man.”

    I slowly turned to face myself, holding a large kitchen knife. His eyes were completely black, and my mouth quivered.
    “Who are you?” I asked, although the answer was clear.

    “All those things you try to carry on your own.”

    “This is just my imagination,” I muttered.
    He stroked the gleaming knife with a broad grin.

    Suddenly he was lunging over the chair with animal strength. I fled out the door, saw my keys on the counter, picked them up. His arm grabbed my shoulder, thrust me to the floor.

    “Tell Satan I said hello. I have done my duty!”

    He stabbed down three times. I managed to roll and avoid the cold metal, my shirt sliced into strips. I recoiled at his touch in panic. Hobbling to my feet, a sucking pain started, like my chest was being ripped apart by a vacuum, so severe I almost collapsed. Looking down, the keys were stained sticky red.
    I’ve been cut, I thought, my adrenaline pushing me closer to unconsciousness.

    When I reached the door I fell to my knees, hands grasping for the handle, the keys rattling. My vision was cloudy, the intensity of the wound leaving me breathless. His feet thundered behind me, and he started dragging me back like a lion’s fresh prey. I coughed, liquid spattering. My lungs were filling, asphyxiation taking over. I struggled as my throat clenched up, deprived of oxygen, legs refusing to move. Sleep neared, the inevitable ripping apart of the body and soul.

    My spirit fell to the lowest plane of darkness, accompanied by thousands of white shadows, who tossed me between them, fire singing us all black. I screamed, but no voice was left, only echoes of things past.

    Meanwhile, the door to apartment 14B opened with a yawn, and the other man slipped out, the cursed stigma of Cain visible on his palm. He had priests to visit, he thought with relish. And lots of them…

    • Reaper says:

      This is pure genious. The last line of your opening made me shudder. It was the perfect description of the laugh and set a hook that was already planted deeper. Amazing from start to finish. If I were to offer any suggestion it would be at the end you say sleep neared. I would suggest a change of the word sleep to unconsciousness if you’re going for a clinical real interpretation or rest if you want more of the religious and accepting feel for the voice. Just a thought though because it works well as it is.

    • k.spicer says:

      Forgive me Bilbo, for I have sinned…I loved this scene. It was hauntingly good! Left me wanting to read more. Good job!

    • Observer Tim says:

      I’m not sure what kind of laugh would cause a crisis of faith in a priest, especially in a confessional.

      That said, this is a wonderfully dark and atmospheric piece, Bilbo. It reads like the opening chapter of a murder mystery. I find myself awaiting the arrival of the detective, who will uncover not only the person/creature that is killing priests, but also provide visceral details of the sins they’ve been killed for.

  14. VooDoo says:

    I don’t remember this wall. But it’s old as if it’s been here for years. It’s tall, at least half as tall as the nearest skyscraper and was made of some sort of metal that was slowly beginning to show it’s age. Perhaps I took a wrong turn? Or maybe I am on the wrong street all together? I step back from the wall and and look around, trying to get my barrings. To my left at a cross roads is an old, rusted street sign, bent and slowly decaying like the wall in front of me. But this can’t be right, that sign was almost new just yesterday. Still, old or new, this street sign was indicating that I was indeed on the correct street. And this wall was cutting straight threw it My job, my career, my life was on the other side of that massive wall.
    As I backed away I had become aware of my surroundings. Just yesterday the sun was bright in the sky, and the city was packed with people all going about their lives like a hive of bees. Today there was no sun, today it’s cold and damp with small little bits of snow attempting to fall. And where were the busy little bee’s that crowded the streets? What stood before me now was an empty shell of a city. With empty cars, buses, and trash littered all of there street. But no people, no busy little bees.
    I suddenly felt myself begin to panic. I had to get home. I had to get home to Tom, Tom would know what to do. He always knew exactly what to do. With out wasting another second I began to trot down the empty sidewalk dodging debris, and listening to the lonely sound of my heels echo against the empty building.
    I was only the second street down when I had stopped dead in my tracks and almost doubled over. The memory hit me like a tsunami, cold, harsh, and with out forgiveness. Why was I trying to return to Tom? Why would I think he would have any answers for me? How could I have forgotten that I was divorced? How could I forget the night I caught him in our bed sleeping with that drag queen from down the hall? What is happening to me?
    As tears begin to slip down my cheeks I continue to walk. This time more slowly as I try to put the pieces of my scrambled mind together. I couldn’t find my mother, she had passed away when I was twenty. My sister Dawn lived in Texas, and my brother Shawn lived three hours away from here. I didn’t have my purse on me, so that meant I also didn’t have my cell phone. I would call my father from my house phone, maybe he could tell me what the hell was going on. And I needed to feed my turtles anyway.
    Chills swept down my spine the further I walked. My surroundings made me feel like I was inside some sort of horror movie. And that any moment some sort of flesh eating monster was going to jump out and rip my throat out. But even with the fear flowing through my veins I couldn’t shake the confusion that surrounded me. What was happening to me? Why couldn’t I remember this happening to my home? How could I forget that I divorced that cheating swine? Why did it take me so long to remember that my mother was dead? How could I forget about my beloved turtles?
    A strong gust of wind slammed into my body and I quickened my pace. Only about a block from my apartment one of the heels snapped on my shoe so I was forced to walk barefoot through the streets. Since trash was already everywhere I felt no need to bring them along with me.
    When I finally did reach my apartment building I smiled widely at the sight of a soft glow from the window in my living room. Maybe it was dad? Maybe it was my sister, or brother. Hell, at the moment I would even settle for that swine bag Tom. There was no door greeter to let me in so as quickly as I could I pressed the button and allowed myself inside. The elevator was blocked off so I was forced to take the stairs. But the closer I got to my floor the more weary I became. What if it wasn’t a family member? What if it was someone up there waiting to hurt me? The rest of the city seemed dead, why would I assume someone friendly had found their way into my apartment?
    I couldn’t go back. Not now, I had nothing to turn back to. Nothing but a wall that seemed to surround the entire city. Nothing but a skeleton of what looked to be the shells of a fallen human civilization. I had to face whatever was up there. I had to find out the truth. Find out why yesterday the sun was shining and the city was filled with life, but today everything seemed dead. I didn’t know if my questions would be answered, but damn it I was still going to ask them.
    When I reached my floor I noticed Mrs. Tillers door was wide open and in shambles. Same with Mr. And Mrs. Blake. Even the drag queens door was wide open and exposed. That was a door I couldn’t help but peek into. Just by the off chance Tom may be inside, but sadly I found nothing but dead plants, and dust. After closing that door in particular I slowly turned towards my apartment. The bright light shown from under my closed door and I felt my heart race like never before. I had no phone to call the police, and frankly I wasn’t even sure if the police were still around. I was tiny. A five foot zero skinny little nothing. And the closest I had ever come to a self defense class was a kick boxing game on the Nintendo Wii. But still, I had to know. Who exactly was it behind my door.
    Taking a deep breath I reached my small hand out to the door knob. I had no keys on me so I had to hope that the door was unlocked since I had decided knocking was out of the question. I wasn’t going to wait for someone to answer. I didn’t want to know that badly.
    As I turned the knob the door made a familiar click and I pushed it open. Everything was as it was and the TV was going. Playing a movie I had on DVD. And then as I looked over to the couch that was when I saw her. Or should I say that was when I saw me. She glanced up at me and smiled with that huge toothy grin of hers, her green eyes dazzled and her simple brown hair fell perfectly into place. And before I could run for my life she spoke.
    “It’s so good to see you Harlee. Now tell me, is your memory better than the others? Or do we have to go back to the drawing board?”

  15. RainyDays says:

    The relief I felt at leaving the airport was immense. I’ve always despised planes, as they’ve given me the worst migraines of my life, yet tonight I just couldn’t shake the feeling that something was off. Even as I stepped into the taxi I’d barely managed to hail, a cold shiver ran down my back, and I could have sworn someone was watching me, and had been the whole night.

    As the cab pulled onto the highway, I took a moment to calm myself down. Whatever that feeling I’d had was, whatever had caused it, was still in the city, and I was on my way out. Feeling a bit less paranoid, I dug around in my purse until my hand felt the cold metal of my phone. I called my mother with the expectation that she would pick up, she always picked up. Yet this time, maybe for the first, I got her voice mail. I disregarded that moment, and left a message telling her not to worry about going to my apartment the next morning to feed Charlie, a big tabby cat, because I came home a day early.

    By the time The cabbie dropped me off and I lugged my bags up 10 flights of stairs I was ready to crash. I threw my bags down the moment I got through the door only to hear that the tv was on in my bedroom. The cat had probably sat on the remote was my assumption, but then I heard a giggle. I fiercely familiar giggle. It sounded exactly like me.

    As groggy as I’d felt a second before my veins now felt like electric currents were zipping through them instead of blood. I stumbled into my room to find that someone was in my house, and that someone was me.

    I let out a small gasp, maybe even a wheeze, it’s hard for me to truly know. What I do know is that I made some sort of minute sound, but it was audible enough that whoever was on my bed heard me. She whipped around to look at me, and when she did, her face echoed the horror I knew she could see on mine.

    “What’s your name?”

    I couldn’t answer her, I just stared and made little choking noises.

    She leaned forward with an intense look of serious desperation etched across her face, “Please. You need to tell me your name. I got your mother out of here, and you’re lucky I did that. I’ve been waiting for days. What is your name?”

    I cleared my throat and in a hoarse whisper I managed to say one word, “Mary”.

    Her eyes filled with fear and finality and when she spoke, her words, though few, hit me like a brick wall, “So everything they told me was true. I’m dead, and you should be too.”

    I didn’t know what to do, my mind was spinning out of control, and I couldn’t breathe so I ran blindly out of my apartment, out of the building and straight into someone.

    “Sorry, sorry, I- I just..”

    “You look just like her,” a pained voice came from the man I’d hit and my mind broke into sudden clarity. The same feeling I’d felt in the airport was back. The same shiver of cold running down my spine, and I knew that this was him. He’d been the one watching me.

    “You. You’ve been following me.”

    “I should’ve killed you. I was supposed to. I am supposed to but- you look like her. I can’t kill her, not again. I can’t kill you, even if they kill me for that.”

    “What? Kill me? Who are you and who are they? And who the hell do I look like?”

    “Don’t you know? You look like Mary.”

  16. Gloomy Sunday

    Sunday is gloomy
    My hours are slumberless
    Dearest the Shadows
    I live with are numberless
    Little white flowers
    Will never waken you
    Not where the black coach of
    Sorrow has taken you
    Angels have no thought
    Of ever returning you
    Would they be angry
    If I thought of joining you?

    The ocean plunges the early Sunday hours into a soot-covered gloomy morning. Fog, languid and soft, dances along the driveway as I pull into it just as I had done for many a morning before. I press the button attached to my visor and it emits a soft click. The garage door ahead of me opens, and the moment I see the tread of those tires, my heart slows to the sullen beat of lost love.

    Before I know it, I’m in my house, staring at my clone who sits upon the recliner, laughing joyfully at a television show of which I can’t seem to remember the name. On the couch, nestled next to the other me, is the woman I adore, Angela. She laughs along with me, concerned only with the moment and nothing more. My future wife and that man, lovers until death do they part.

    I pass from the living room to the kitchen, but find myself standing behind my clone, who’s wearing a black suit with a white flower peeking from his pocket. Beyond him is Angela. She’s wearing the dress I bought her but the one she chose. A lovely white gown majestic and royal, subtle and stunning. It spoke of her without words, just as her smile and actions had always done long before.

    I watch my clone scratch his head nervously as the holy man standing between them speaks words of virtue and love. In silence, I watch their mouths utter vows forever binding them together, a dream come true for some. I can’t watch too long, the pain too great, so I leave the ceremony in hope of finding myself drunk at the reception bar.

    Instead, there is no reception. I’m standing next to a bed. A soft repetitive song plays from a machine connected to Angela’s heart. My clone stands next to the bed, his hand holding Angela’s weak but somehow strong grip. Her lips are dry, eyes sunk and slightly purple. Yet, she smiles, a tiny glint of water hanging at the edge of her eye, the same that paints the walls of my clones pink cheeks.

    “You’ll beat this.” My clone says, “You’ll be okay.”

    Hollow promises.

    I close my eyes, they sting. When I open them, I’m sitting where my clone sat in front of the television, but no laughter echoes through the room. The couch remains mostly empty, nothing to keep it company but my wife’s blanket, the one she used on those cold nights to keep herself warm.

    I look down at the heavy revolver in my left hand. I don’t remember retrieving it from the closet, nor do I remember how long I sat in that chair. Time seemed to cease, my nights slumberless and cold. I look to the heavens as tears blur my sight, though my vision is all too clear.

    “Can you forgive me?” I ask the angels. “Must death part us?”

    I feel the cold metal poke my chin, a soft click its only conversation to me, an answer not of the angels but of the human world. As I squeeze the hilt, I can hear horses whinny outside my home.

    Has the black coach come to take me to my sweet sweet Angela? I wonder, and suddenly blackness.

    Gloomy is Sunday,
    With shadows I spend it all
    My heart and I
    Have decided to end it all
    Soon there’ll be candles
    And prayers that are said I know
    Let them not weep
    Let them know that I’m glad to go
    Death is no dream
    For in death I’m caressing you
    With the last breath of my soul
    I’ll be blessing you.

    • k.spicer says:

      Jay, this was moving and ghostly well written. The story is modern but has a medieval feel to it. It has great rhythm and the poetry was touching and perfectly matched to the body of the scene. This is a part of Jay I’m not used to seeing (stepping away from the dark side I mean) because this was more of a tragedy. Kudos to you my friend, your words are as always well received.

    • Observer Tim says:

      The word to describe this story for me is haunting. I really love the place you took this. You also managed to clearly evoke the song in your prose. Overall a great job.

  17. Dennis says:

    Great story. It had great pacing and I liked that both were clones.

  18. Augie says:

    One for the weekend! A bit over the limit.

    Da Expendables

    Deep below the mountain is a super-duper secret lab. No level is more ‘Secret Den Dat!’

    The general speaks to his lead scientist, “ I don’t get it, you wont need to erase their memory?”

    The scientist points at the two brain scans, “Sir, their brains are under developed, badly!”

    “Under developed? Or just plain stupid?”

    The scientist jumps with joy and high fives the general! “Their just plain stupid! Yeaaaaaa!”

    The general dances in a circle, “Finally! After years of testing we found the perfect candidates! Make one clone of each and have the Sergeant test them.”

    12 hours later…..

    Super-duper secret Sergeant salutes the general. “Sir, the two clones lasted 58 seconds in battle.”

    The general smiles, “really? Tell me more.”

    “Sir, They threw over 30 hand grenades into my fox hole.”

    The general looks surprised, “What happened?”

    The Sergeant smiles, “I pulled the pins and threw them back.”

    The general laughs…. “perfect! Time to build an army.”

    …..

    Tony and Mo wake up in the super-duper secret hospital room.. “ Hey, Mo where are we?”

    Mo shouts, “in here stupid!”

    The large door opens and a very short general marches in.

    Tony giggles, “ Hey Mo, were in da chocolate factory, one of dem ‘ooompa loompa’s’ is coming.”

    The general stops, snapping his heals. “Silence solders!”

    Mo giggles, “soldiers? Dat means I’m GI-Mo!”

    Tony giggles, “ I’m… I’m… Uhh…”

    “Yer, stupid! Dat’s what cha are!”

    The general snaps his heals again, You have been selected for a super-duper secret mission. Now, follow me.”

    The general leads the mobsters into a movie theater. Tony shouts, “Mo, lookie dare! It’s me en you talking on da movie screen!”

    Mo slaps Tony in the back of the head, “ Stupid, look around. Dares hundreds of us in da theater watchin it!”

    Tony screams, “Ahhhh! Dey look jus like us!”

    Hundreds of Tony and Mo clones repeat the sentences in the movie, learning how to speak mobster.

    On the movie screen, Tony speaks, “Go git da car! We got’s ta pick up Jimmy at da drop!”

    The entire auditorium chants:

    “GO-GIT-DA-CAR! WE-GOT’S-TA-PICK-UP- JIMMY-AT-DA-DROP!”

    Mo chuckles, “Stupid’s, we wacked Jimmy last week!”

    The clones turn, repeating Mo, “STUPIDS-WE-WACKED-JIMMY-LAST-WEEK.”

    Tony slaps Mo, “stupid! You might as well tell dem we dumped da body at Vern’s place!”

    The clones slap each other, “WE-DUMPED-DA-BODY-AT-VERNS-PLACE.”

    Tony and Mo scream, racing to the exit.

    “Ahhhhhh!”—”Ahhhhhhh!”

    The general blocks their path. “ Men, we have a mission! We have inserted language implants into their brains. They can speak every language across the globe, but not mobster. We have gathered hundreds of hours of footage, I need you to finish their instruction. Do it for your Nation! When you are done, we will release you!

    Tony and Mo continually confuse themselves with the clones. Finally, it’s graduation day. The clones march by dressed in strange military uniforms. Each clone has been disguised to look different from each other.

    The General shakes Tony and Mo’s hands. “ Thank you men! These men are battle ready.”

    Mo laughs, “Dressed like dat?”

    The general faces him, “ Ohh no! We are going to infiltrate them into the enemy army! Our boys need a little moral boost to keep fighting. This is win-win for our Nation! They are easy targets for our boys and they will drive the enemy army crazy!

    Ok, time to take you home!”

    ……

    The godfather slams his fist on the desk, “ Stupids! Where have you been for the last three months?”

    Mo scratches his head, “ Patron oublie’”

    Tony makes odd sounds, “Click-click-hhick-ik-click-shik!”
    ……..

    Far-far-away Tony and Mo run across the desert with the rebel army.

    “Ahhhhhhhh!”—-”Ahhhhhhhh!”

    “Stupid, were not freaking clones!”

    Mo looks over at Tony, “How do ya know dat?”

  19. steelebob says:

    “Honey, did you want ice?” A familiar voice calls out from the kitchen.

    “Two cubes will do,” the other you answers politely.

    You dash into the small half bathroom under the stairs as the kitchen light goes out, leaving the door cracked open just enough to see your ex-girlfriend walk by with 2 glasses of ice tea. She places both glasses on the coffee table and proceeds to curl up on the couch, snuggling against you, well, the other you.
    Sweat begins to bead on your forehead as your heart begins that heavy thumping.

    That’s Carole! The woman you spent five years of your life with, only to find out she had been sleeping with her married boss to get ahead in her company. Carole, the woman you broke up with just before Christmas last year after you found them making out in a coat check room during the company holiday party. Carole, the woman you saw at the grocery store not 3 days ago, who looked at you and gave you the finger.

    Carefully, you step out of the bathroom and tip toe to the kitchen. On the counter is your wallet. No, it isn’t, your wallet is in your pocket. It sure looks like your wallet though. You look down the hallway, the coast seems clear for now, and you pick it up. One more quick glance over your shoulder and you look inside. That’s your license! Jeremy Flagg, 74 Diamond Dr, date of birth March 7th, 1967.

    “Jeremy!” You’re startled awake, dripping in sweat, your pillow is literally soaking wet. Your heart is pounding.

    “Sweet Jesus, that seemed real,” you say to yourself as you attempt to catch your breath. Looking over at the clock, it’s 6:30AM. You’d have rather slept til about 8, but you’re up now, so you decide to go downstairs and make some coffee.

    As you walk down the stairs, you can hear the television. You’re certain you turned it off, and now a little lump can be felt at the base of your throat. ‘You’re paranoid now,’ you think to yourself, that dream really struck a chord. It was probably the cat, she’s done it before, stepped on the remote, turning the TV on in the middle of the night. You approach the living room cautiously anyways, it’s empty, you reach for the remote and power off the television. As you put the remote back down, you see two glasses on coffee table. Behind you, the sound of the toilet flushing and the bathroom door opens up, it’s you again!

    “Good morning, Jeremy.”

  20. jhowe says:

    He carried the full length mirror into the living room and propped it against the sofa in front of the television. Taking up the remote, he said, “So what’s your pleasure tonight?” He waited and admired the strong jaw, the wavy hair, the stylish cut of the clothing. He ignored the jowly undertones and slouching posture, instead concentrating on the rugged features so admirable. He cinched his worn, frayed terry cloth robe and rejoiced in their relationship, reveling in the camaraderie.

    “Duck Dynasty it is.” Finally, someone he could relate to. He tried to detect a sideways glance, to catch him off guard, but he was always paying attention and his heart swelled. Never had he experienced such devotion. “Cocktail?” he asked, setting two glasses on the coffee table and pouring a generous slug of bourbon in each. “To us,” he said as they touched glasses, and then touched again.

    As he poured another round he noticed a sly grin on his face. “What the hell, but this is the last one.” They laughed together and picked up their glasses. A political commercial interrupted and he changed the channel. Pawn Stars came on and they smiled. Such devotees they were.

    Another drink and he pushed the oily gray streaked hair back and glared. “What the hell are you looking at?” His weak chin quivered and he opened the robe, “Is this what you want?” He stared at the shriveled, pitiful display. “Now look what you’ve done to me!” He picked up the nearly empty bourbon bottle and hurled it. The mirror shattered. He peered down and saw pieces of him peering back, tears in both their eyes. “I’m so sorry,” he said, scooping shards of glass into his hands.

    He walked to the bedroom, blood dripping on the carpet. He selected a full length mirror from a stack leaning against the wall and carried it back to the living room.

  21. Kerry Charlton says:

    Former prompt: Twitter Stalker Story Title: Double Jeopardy

    PROLOGUE

    It’s been a little over five years now, since Brad killed Id, his clone. To be more concise, it was his gielfriend, Piper who drove the fireplace poker through Id’s back as he tried to strangle Brad. Dr. Montgomery, director of the Telekinesis Institute at Penn State, had been sentenced to life without parole, for operatring a clone lab on campus.

    Piper and Brad married last year and she wore her name proudly. Mrs. Brad Pennington. After earning his doctorate in Genetic Science, Brad replaced Dr. Montgomery at the institute. All was well until the news flash that Montgomery had escaped the high security prison in northern Pennsylvania a few months ago…….

    DOUBLE JEOPARDY TWO

    Jet lag had Brad on his knees as he arrived at Philadelphia International at five in the morning from Zurich. Eagerly, he dialed his home number and waited,

    “Hello,” a sleepy voice said.

    “Piper, I’m at the airport, I’ll see you in a bit.”

    “Who is this?”

    “It’s Brad baby.”

    “Why are you back at the airport?”

    “I just got here.”

    “You came in last night. Who is this?”

    “It’s Brad. Where is he?”

    “No Brad, no!’

    “It’s another clone baby. Run as fast as you can. Get away.”

    Piper’s end of the phone died. Brad bolted through the terminal and hailed a cab,

    “Get me to 635 Merion Avenue. There’s a hundred in it for you, move!”

    As the cab raced through north Philadelphia, he checked his 38 police special, holding his breath. When he reached his street, he flung the cab door open and sprinted to the front door and opened it to reveal Piper strapped to a gurney, his clone image leaning over her with a surgical knife in his hand. This time, he wasted no words. He opened fire placing six slugs in his clone.

    Removing her gag, Brad fought at the knots holding his wife to the steel table.

    “Brad, watch out. There’s another one behind you.” Piper screamed.

    A chop to the back of the neck, crumpled Brad to the floor. When he awoke, he saw the second clone operating on an unconscious Piper.
    “Stop, whatever you want, you can have. For God’s sake stop.”

    “I’m sorry,” the clone answered with a sneer. “Dr. Montgomery needs your wife’s head for an experiment. She won’t feel antyhing, she’s already dead.”

    Brad screamed and closed his eyes to the horror. Straining at the cords tied to the piano, his wrists bled as the cords started to untangle. The image before him caused him to throw up and he strained harder.

    “Don’t worry,” clone said, “I’m putting her head in an ice chest. It’ll be fresh when I deliver it. See what a nice job I’ve done?”

    The binding broke and Brad hurtled himself toward the clone who slashed Brad’s arm before he put a hammer lock on the clone. Brad grabbed the scalpel from the clone’s hand.

    “See what a sharp knife I have?” he told the struggling clone. “I’m going ro remove certain body parts from you and then slowly slice your head off and watch you die, you bastard.”

    The clone cried out, “Mercy”

    “Mercy, hell,” Brad said, cutting both eyes out and slicing the clone’s ears off. The clone fell to the floor as a helpless piece of scum.

    “You’re not going to reproduce either,” he he said in a rage as he removed his manhood with one slice.

    “Now to your head,” Brad shouted. “First we slice through the sides of your neck, like this.”

    The clone fell unconscious from loss of blood but Brad didn’t stop.

    “A slice here and one there and a quick twist,” he said.

    Holding his clone’s head before him, he spat on it and hurled it across the room. Brad fell to his knees with a an inch of blood on the floor soaking his clothes.

    “Oh Piper, oh Pioer my love, why have I lost you?”

    And the room fell quiet as Brad walked to the ice chest. He opened it and caressed Piper’s hair, as he let out an eerie wail like an injured beast. His fronr door splintered and he saw two of Philadelphia’s finest standing there.

    “Drop the knife,” he heard. “Drop the knife.”

    Brsd looked at the blood still dripping from the blade and cried out,”

    “Piper, I’m coming. Wait for me.”

    Brad rose to his feet holding the scalpel high and started moving toward the police.

    “Drop the knife, sir. Drop It”

    “No,” Brad said, “No.”

    The sound of multiple gun shots echoed through the house and then all was still. One policeman in tears, said to the other,

    “I’ve never seen anything like this.” He turned and walked out the front door.

    • jhowe says:

      Wow Kerry. That was an adventure through the gates of hell. You are quite the story teller.

      • jhowe says:

        Uh oh. I noticed a possible oops. How did he have his .38 special in the cab when he had just returned from Zurich on the plane? Maybe he was registered to carry on the plane or he had it in his checked baggage? I was going to say this the first time, but i didn’t want to detract from my glowing review, that was much deserved.

    • MCKEVIN says:

      Kerry you said you were going to go dark on this prompt and you really did. You know I like blood, guts and gore and I got it all in your one post. I really enjoyed this. Good job.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Thanks McKevin. I’ve never written any gore before, so I’m going to need some practice doing it.Sometimes I think horror is best done with the writer’s imagination, painting the pictures, but this time I decided graphic was okay to scare the willies out of me. Glad you liked it. I’d hate to be the clean up duty.

    • k.spicer says:

      Kerry, this was crazy on steroids! I started to ask why you chose Philadelphia for this scene but with all the body parts being flung around I can understand…it could be something on the nightly news. Dare I say it…you’re starting to scare me! Good job…as long as you didn’t write this from personal experience!

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Thank you k.spicer. I was born in Philadelphia during a time the city was a masterpiece. Left at nine and moved to Washington until ’47. Yep, that’s not a typo. Grew up in paradise, Coral Gables, Florida. I imagine this scared me a lot more then it did you. Thnks for reading and commenting.

    • Augie says:

      stories like this is the reason I spend as much time on this site as possible. Its not just your gift of telling/creating, its your ‘seasoned’ writer style. I know that I have improved a bit in my last months here, powerful writers like your self (and other’s of course) has paved the road for me. If anyone wants to learn how to write, this is the place to start. Thanks Kerry! ( PS, I own a model 10 police revolver, it was carried by a NY officer his entire career. He never had to use it. I love that revolver!)

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Thank you Augie for your read and your thoughtful compliments. But I have to disagree with you on one issue. When you slam-dunked on this web site a few months ago and I realized you were a warrior, protecting America’s freedom, I felt proud to read your stories. You have an enormous talent in writing.

        You refer to my writing as ‘seasoned’ whick I consider as high praise. However six years ago I had written nothing but business letters. It was Leslie, my daughter I lost to cancer that inspired me. “You ought to write Dad,” she said. “We need to know more about you.”

        Well, I started, it was awful, childish, and mundane. So I took a correspondence course. What did I realize? I knew nothing about writing. The course helped a lot and tenacity pushed me along. But this web site, I stumbled across March a year ago, is is helping me the most.

        You are one of the most talented writers on here. You have one thing I don’t have, that’s youth. Better late then never, I say. Starting to write at seventy one, I thought, is probably a lost cause. Well, it isn’t going to be Leslie!

        My point to you is, the world is your oyster!

    • Critique says:

      Kerry this was fantastic. I’m not a blood and gore fan but I was enthralled from start to finish!

    • Observer Tim says:

      This is intense and action-packed, Kerry, a thriller from start to end. Pity the MC had to go with suicide by cop.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Thank you Tim. I felt the same way as you about the suicide. But I wanted to convey a complete hopelessness and true sense of horror here.

        However, stay tuned in the future, I have figured a way to get back into this story and go after the mad scientist, Dr. Montgomery.

    • Reaper says:

      Kerry you are not a man to do things by halves. You have talked about doing a dark and gory story for a little bit now and you delivered. I can see why this form of writing is one you avoid. Your story is well told and polished while the emotion of it is so raw. You put just enough detail into the gore that my mind envisioned and added. It is always more horrific to leave some of the details to the imagination of the reader but a fine line to walk without putting too little in there. You delivered just the right amount. Beyond that the emotion and the humanity of this is where the real horror lies. What it takes to drive a man to the cold passion of revenge. The love he could not live without even though the justice was half served and the real villain was still out there. The stark reality the cops were left with. The perfection of the why have I lost you line. I could gush on and on about this. I will end with, you have said you wanted to learn from myself and some others how to let your dark side out in your writing. Today I am your student.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Thank you Reaper. I was so uncomfortable reading what I wrote, I didn’t want anyone to see it. But then I knew, you’d come after me because I said I was going dark and didn’t do it. As I mentioned to Tim, above you, I have a passage to get back into this story and go after Montgomery. I just can’t leave the Dr. roaming around in Philadelphia, I still have relatiives living up there.

        Don’t think I haven’t learned for you. I study every word you write. You may be creating a monster.

  22. snuzcook says:

    IRRESISTABLE

    Amazing how pulling 24 hours straight can fool you into thinking you’re wide awake. Especially if you work in a lab where energy drinks are not only sold in the dollar machines down the hall, but also whipped up as custom cocktails at every third work station. I must have been suckling on my current favorite formula, a warm concoction reminiscent of cinnamon cocoa, when epiphany finally bubbled to the surface of my mental mire.

    “Of course!” I had shouted. Owlish eyes turned in my direction from work tables nearby, and weary heads prairie-dogged from cubicles in the shadowy periphery. I demonstrated the essentials for Jeffries so he could see how our two streams could dovetail, and then settled down to the tedious job of outlining and proving my conclusions.

    Finished at last, documentation backed up and copies tucked away, I locked my cabinet. Jeffries had gone hours ago. He could pick up on his end of things tomorrow.

    I hardly noticed the trip home. It scared me when I realized that I just navigated twelve miles of interstate without making any conscious observations or decisions.

    Hints of daylight were dragging muted colors out of the gray foliage around the house when I let myself in the back door. The familiar lilt of a jingle for breath mints drew me to the den. It was lit only by the faintly blue glow of the television. On the low table directly in front of the set was a pair of stockinged feet. The toe of the sock on the right bore a familiar hole. Attached to the feet were legs clad in a worn and ripped pair of jeans extending to the overstuffed arm chair. From my vantage point I could see above back of the chair the shape and texture of hair that looked amazingly like the touseled, cowlicked head I had gazed groggily at in the mirror this morning.

    I knew that this manifestation of myself must hold some significance, but I was gripped by a desire to distance myself, to be away from it. It represented something rooted, sedentary, immutable. Like a child not yet ready to go to bed, I fled to the kitchen and from there to the deck. A late setting moon was visible between scarves of cloud moving like dancers leaving a stage. Its light limned each shape with silver, and as I watched, the silver outlines extended to the trees, to the shrubs nearby, to the rail of the deck, to my own arms, hands, fingers.

    Like the pull of spider’s silk, the silver filaments exerted subtle but powerful pressure to turn me back inside. Face to face again with my doppelganger, I remembered. The shooting star of hate that resides in irresistible love crossed my awareness, born of remembering the insubstantial nature of my independence, the inescapable rejoining. It was necessary, just as my free movement had been necessary. The trapped genius that is we can only effectively innovate at times like this on an astral plane.

    We had barely merged when the phone rang. We knew it would be Jeffries.

    • snuzcook says:

      The ‘trapped genius’ here is experiencing mental block. It occurs to me that a physical disability may have been implied but was not intended.

    • MCKEVIN says:

      Welcome back and aren’t we in rare form I must say. That was good and so you snuzcook. Once again you held my attention from start to finish. Good job.

    • jhowe says:

      Another snuzcook special with all the little tidbits that I love. Yes, you throw in those little extras, like the energy drink vending machine and the pull of spiders silk that really add a lot of flare. Interesting and fun to read.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Such a delightful read, snuzcook. The descriptive power that you use is like a sip of precious wine, a beautiful sunset on the Blue Ridge mountains or the look in a lover’s eyes. Just marvelous. My take on this, her job is powerufl and she walks among giants in research, who depend upon her craft. But when she returns to her home, possibly living past a deceased lover, and living alone, she feels ordinary, perhaps comfortable, but then again not. After all the boob tube places us on the outside of life looking inward. And what do we see, glamour, power, romance and perhaps a youth long ago forgotten.

        See what you stirredf up in me?

      • snuzcook says:

        Thanks, jhowe! I’m so glad you enjoy those little details!

    • Augie says:

      So detailed, definitely deep. Many emotions swarm in my simple head. So I will say, Wonderful. Thanks snuz!

    • k.spicer says:

      Snuz, once again you spun a tale with description out the wazoo! I love reading your stories for the sheer experience of the journey. I have to confess, I had to Google “doppelganger.” Darned if you didn’t use that word perfectly too. Keep up the good work!

    • Critique says:

      An interesting layered story with amazing descriptive language snuzcook. I enjoyed it even more rereading it :)

    • Manwe38 says:

      I’m very interested in out-of-body experiences and phenomena, and this really got my attention.

      Beautiful descriptive writing, especially re: the moon and ‘merging’ process.

      Well done!

    • Observer Tim says:

      Beautiful story, snuzcook. I love all the details of the environment and the mystical take on her mental state. I reads to me like the transformation from “work self” to “home self”, which can at times be very mind-expanding.

    • Reaper says:

      Wonderful snuzcook. Your imagery and the story got more intense as it went along and I found myself trapped in a beautiful dream. My mind tried to chase so many meanings in this that I had to slow down and not consider any of them until the end. So deep an beautiful. It is funny that you mention a mental block because in so many ways this was the perfect metaphor for what that feels like.

  23. cosivantutte says:

    I decided to give this prompt one more try. Maybe this isn’t quite sticking to the prompt, but oh well.

    I had myself cloned yesterday. It had seemed like such a good idea. I’d be able to go places and do things I’ve always wanted to do while my clone manned the cash register at the Old 23 gas station. My clone wouldn’t mind. She’d understand. She’d be happy that I’d finally be getting the vacation I’ve needed for the past six years.

    It had seemed like such a brilliant idea.

    My clone disagreed. “Why should you have all the fun while I get all the work? Am I gonna get paid for it?”

    “No. It’s my job, not yours.”

    “So? You go to ‘your job’ and I go to Cancun.”

    “Cancun? What? I don’t like Cancun.”

    “Big whoop about what you like, girl. I’m going to Cancun without you.” And then she blew raspberries at me.

    “You’re not supposed to sass me. You are me.”

    “Nuh-uh. I ain’t you. You a mean, cussin’ bleepity-blankity named Sarah Jones. I am Legolas Greeenstorn – spelled with three e’s, thank you so much.”

    “You can’t call yourself that. You’re me!”

    And she blew raspberries at me again. “I’m gonna get those tickets to Cancun whether you like that bowl of beans or not.” She swaggered herself over to my purse and swiped my credit card.

    I should stop her, but why bother? “If you want to go to Cancun, fine! I hope you get sunburned.”

    She sat down at my computer and went on the internet.

    I grabbed the remote and dropped into the leather couch. If she wanted to leave, fine. I’d just get myself cloned again. I turned on the tv. It was on a commercial. Some woman was complaining about how bad her head hurt. Oh, lady. You don’t know anything about headaches. Hopefully, the new clone will have a better attitude about our situation.

    • Observer Tim says:

      This is clever and funny, cosi. At least your MC didn’t pick up the phone and say “my credit card’s been stolen”. Also, the clone doesn’t have a passport, so getting to Cancun might be a bit of a problem…

      There’s plenty of room for the MC to make the clone’s life miserable. Maybe she should explore it… ;)

      • cosivantutte says:

        Hmm. I don’t think either of them thought about the passport issue. Do you think a clone calling herself Legolas Greeenstorn can get a passport? Seems like there would be a lot of complications regarding birth certificates and all that. Maybe Sarah will have to vouch for her identity. :D I bet she’ll love having to do that.

  24. Manwe38 says:

    “A New Day”

    I slithered into the living room and plopped down on the couch. My head hurt, but it wasn’t too bad. At least the vomiting had stopped, and that was a step in the right direction. Or so I’d been told. Be positive. Stay strong. One day at a time, and it’ll all work out.

    Yeah, right. Everybody had an opinion, and like their rear-ends, they all stank. It was maddening, though, how oblivious people could be, especially the do-gooders. Oh well.

    I stretched out my legs and grabbed the remote. Tonight was Monday, which meant “Under the Dome.” It wasn’t as good as Stephen King’s book, but for a night by my lonesome, it would have to suffice. I pressed down on the button, and the screen flashed. Shoes off, check. Feet on the table, check. I smiled; CBS, here I come. Five feet away, the image coalesced, then a box popped up. The DVR. Damn.
    ‘Do you wish to record ‘America’s Got Talent?’ it asked. Sighing, I hit ‘no’. It had been six months since she left, and I still couldn’t bring myself to erase her programs. “Why?” I said. “Why am I so weak?”
    “Because you’re still in love,” said a voice from behind.
    I whirled around. “Who’s there?”
    “Me.”
    My heart began to race like a jet on a runway. “Come out, and keep your hands where I can see them!”
    There was a laugh, and then a familiar shape stepped into the gloom. “Is this better?”

    An invisible boa constricted my chest. My mouth fell open, but I could make no sound. Inches away, a familiar face grinned. “What’s wrong?” he asked. “You look pale.”

    I stared at my mirror-image. “How?”
    “Doesn’t matter.” He lifted his chin. “The point is: you have to move on.”
    “I can’t.” I ran a hand over the top of my scalp. Once, there had been hair, but not now. The doctors said it would one day grow back, but they were all full of shit, and they sent large bills. “She wasn’t supposed to leave.”
    “But she did.”
    “Why?”
    “Because she never really cared.”
    “We took a vow. In sickness and in health.”
    Another voice came from the door. “She broke it.”
    My head whipped around like a flag in the breeze. “You too?” I asked. “Yup,” said the second me. I squinted at his shirt, a white-T with the word ‘radiation’ stenciled across it in red ink. “The girl has gone, and we’re all you have left. Us and the tumor; we’re your new best friends.”
    “No!” I jumped up, wincing as a sharp pain jolted the port in my chest. “She loved me!”
    “Yes,” the first one said. “She did. For awhile. But she loved herself just a little bit more.”

    I sank to my knees, the blood rushing through my ears like a poisoned river. I was supposed to get better; that’s what they said. And once I was well, she would come back…right?

    I looked up at the two identical faces. Unlike mine, theirs were healthy, a reminder of what had been happier times. I wanted to touch them, but I had no strength. She had been my world, but then she had left. Like the rogue cells that had threatened my life, she had gone her own way, and would never come back. For better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, I was on my own.

    I took a deep breath. Enough wallowing; it was time to man up. Joints creaking like an old wooden chair, I climbed to my feet, and faced my two twins.

    “Come on boys.” A smile spread across my face like lava on a plain. “Let’s go kick some tumorous butt.”

    • MCKEVIN says:

      You seemed to be running a theme with your posts or is it me reading something that’s not there? Both were good. This is my favorite. Good job.

      • Manwe38 says:

        Thank you, McKevin!

        Not sure what theme you’re getting at; this was inspired by a colleague whose wife left him after a diagnosis of cancer, something which made me both angry and sad.

        Thanks for reading.

        • MCKEVIN says:

          Seems like something medical at least a medical environment in the background is what I meant by theme.

          • Kerry Charlton says:

            Such a stark, realistic and sad, no not sad, the word’s not strong enough, use desperate. And then the human spirit stepped in as it usually does and creates an unsung hero who is faced with a decision….. ‘move on’ as his other self suggested. ‘She was shallow, she wasn’t worth the pain.’

            It appears to me, to be a story of life as it usually is, facing a trauma alone because those we thought cared, do not.

          • Manwe38 says:

            Ah, gotcha. Pretty close!

    • Manwe38 says:

      Kerry, you pretty much summed it up for me.

      ‘Desperate’ is a good word…my father went through something similar when he was dying of cancer. Unfortunately, he never rallied, even though he had strong family support.

      Thank you for the feedback, I really appreciate it.

    • Observer Tim says:

      This is particularly touching, Manwe. I’ve seen people pull away from the responsibility or from fear of the illness when someone gets sick. I’ve been blessed by a few too many busybodies sometimes, but that desperate loneliness on top of illness would have killed me. I admire your MC for coming to his senses.

      • Manwe38 says:

        Thank you, Observer Tim.

        The person this is based on suffered a great deal (it wasn’t me, thank God), but he dusted himself off and threw his hat back in the ring. Now, he’s doing fine.

        I did, and still do, admire his inner strength.

  25. trojanspur says:

    I opened the door, flipped the lightswitch. Normal routine. I reached to hang the car keys on the peg, but instead nearly punched a hole through the plaster. Right, I reminded myself. New apartment. Get used to it, Adam.
    I kicked the door shut, turned the lock. Time for TV.
    TV. The muscles in my neck jerked tight as kite strings. A static hum crackled through the silence, the muted sounds of football.
    Why was my TV on?
    I pulled my phone from my pocket, hovering my thumb over 911 speed dial.
    As much as one can tiptoe in mud-caked boots, I did. The worst that could be around the corner? A serial killer. A terrorist, ready to blackmail me into planting a bomb in the local transit station. Worse, my ex-girlfriend.
    I took a deep breath, prepared to get my head blown off, then stuck my head around the corner.
    Nothing happened. After all that effort and tension, nothing. I almost felt disappointed.
    The TV was on. The couch sat, exactly parallel. My only two pieces of furniture.
    Then I realized there was an extra piece in the room. Someone was sitting on my couch, arms spread like he owned it.
    Good. All my adrenaline wasn’t for nothing.
    I couldn’t see who it was. A gangster? The thought of a terrorist came back to my mind.
    “You’re welcome.” The figure crossed his arms behind his head.
    I froze, but he didn’t turn to face me.
    He stuck his arm out to the right. “Bad guy’s on the floor. Your TV’s intact. Happy?”
    I followed his finger. Sure enough, a stranger lay on the floor, arms spread out limply, scarecrow style. I swallowed. Great. The person on my couch was a psychopathic killer. Hopefully that eliminated the possibility of terrorist.
    “Come on. How about a ‘thank you’?” He paused, then held up the remote. The TV blinked off. “I do know you’re there, you know.”
    He turned around, elbow slung over the back of the couch.
    I dropped my keys. Probably made a dent in floor.
    His face turned to a look of horror. “Holy sh-.”
    My thoughts exactly.
    He was me. A better-looking me, but still me. He had my face.
    “Who are you?” he said.
    “Me.” Mind numb, I replied very intelligently.
    “Who’s me?”
    “You.” A very intelligent response. Especially toward a bloodthirsty criminal.
    His eyes narrowed.
    “What are you doing in my house?”
    “It’s an apartment,” he corrected immediatly.
    If he was me, he was the smart-aleck, over-educated, PhD side of me.
    “I saw guys breaking in, thought I would help.” He shrugged. “Good thing. Now I’ve found my clone.”
    “Not funny.”
    He smirked. “It is funny. Don’t deny the awesomeness of funniness.”
    So he wasn’t a PhD. “You’re not my clone.”
    “Am I your twin brother then?” He smirked, eyes gleaming. “Separated at birth?”
    “Maybe. Just shut up already.”
    His smirk grew bigger than the grand canyon.“Never gonna happen, bro.”

  26. QuiverPen says:

    My heart flutters against my chest, beating an uneven staccato against my ribs. Is that really me? My mind races, attempting to figure out what to do. Do I scream? Do I confront this strange imposter? It can’t really be me can it?

    Just then the doppelganger-me turns and his eyes, the same pale green-brown that are staring back into his, widen in shock, surprise, anger. I know what’s coming. How could I not? If it really is me, I know what I would do next. I turn and run as the doppelganger-me dives for the revolver hidden in a drawer next to the chair.

    What’s going on? I think as I dash through the halls, shoes bouncing off the tile like the pounding of a drum. Behind me, I hear the scrape of wood announcing the drawer’s opening and then the thick, metallic cluck of the gun being ripped free.

    My mind races, trying to figure out what to do. If the doppelganger really is me, then he’d know what to do. There can be no question now that he really is me. He knew about the gun. He was in my house. Logic dictated that it was really me. But it also screamed at me that it was impossible.

    A bullet whizzes over my head, screaming its anger before thwacking into a wall in front of me. I guess I’m not that good of a shot. I’d need to work on that. Focus!

    I dash into the kitchen, feet scrambling on the polished wood. Something unexpected. I need to do something unexpected. But what? The kitchen door is unlocked and I contemplate going for it. But that is too simple. Too expected. Instead I turn, running back down the hall and into the other room. The other me races into the kitchen. I hear the kitchen door creak open and he dashes out into the night. Boy, sometimes I can be an idiot.

    I stop and lean against a wall, my breath coming in great heaving gulps. As my breathing slows I glance up at the camera hidden in one corner of the hall. The Watchers have got to know something about this. They saw it. It’s the only explanation. The little red light on the camera flickers to yellow and then back to red, a sign that I’ve come to recognize over the years that there is someone at the controls of the machine, someone distinctly watching. My mind had been too caught up in shock to realize it, but that was the only rational explanation.

    “What new hell is this?” I ask between breaths, though I know I’ll never get an answer. They never respond. Not with words anyway, only action. And fresh surprises.

    Pain blossoms in my chest a moment before I hear the retort of the gun being fired. I gasp at breath, but my throat feels wet, full. Drowning in my own fluids. My vision fades. As I fall into oblivion my last thought is a strange one. Did I just commit suicide?

    The camera light flickers from red to yellow and back again. Watching.

    • Observer Tim says:

      This is an intense action take on the prompt, QuiverPen; bravo. You did a great job of capturing the immediacy of the moment. I especially love the detail of feeling the bullet before hearing the gunshot. That whole nerve-conduction thing I guess, given that the shot was likely from fairly close range.

      • QuiverPen says:

        Thank you, Observer Tim. I took inspiration from an episode of MASH where Hawkeye’s friend writes a book called, “You never hear the bullet that kills you.” Its a gut-wrenching ending. I won’t spoil it for you, but if you haven’t seen it you should.

  27. rosmid says:

    ME AND MYSELF

    So there I am, sitting with myself.
    This version of me, I notice, is fatter. Or maybe I’m just as fat as he is and don’t realize it. We are identical in every way. Same haircut, same goatee, same eyes. Our lips curl the same way and our eyes are dulled like we’ve been drinking.
    My clone is actually drinking. He’s palming a bottle of coconut rum. After a few sips he stares at the television and says, nonchalantly, “I suppose you’re wondering what I’m doing here.”
“Yeah, I was. Are you me?”
“Technically, yes. I’m you from an alternate reality.”
“Huh. How did you get here?”
“Wormhole.”
“Ah.”
We—me and myself—sit on the couch together and watch TV in silence. Then I say—or rather, he says—“Do you want to know what happens in my reality?”
“Sure.”
“Well, Mom’s dead and Dad became an alcoholic.”
“Jesus. In this reality Mom’s alive and Dad is a banker.”
“I know.”
“You know?”
“Why do you think I came here? I wanted to see if I had it any better in another reality. Apparently I do.”
“Well I don’t have it great.”
“How so?”
“Well I’m depressed all the time.”
He belched. “I’m not.”
“Really? Especially with all that family stuff?”
“Nope.” He got up from the couch. “I just think this to myself: People are themselves entirely. Their actions have no bearing on our lives unless we let them.”
    “That’s an interesting way to look at things.”
    “Well, it gets me through the day. What gets you through?”
“Cigarettes, writing and cheap alcohol.”
He laughed. “Well, I’ve got to go. Alternate timelines and all that.”
“You seem really smart. Smarter than me, anyway.”
He patted me on the back. My eyes looked into themselves. “Don’t worry so much about how smart you are. Just do the damn work and laugh a little.”
“Right. Thank you.”
“You’re welcome.” There was a flash of blue light and he was gone.
    I picked up my cellphone and dialed the number of my doctor. “Hello Ross. How can I help you?”
“I ran into myself today.”
“Are you on drugs again, Ross?”
I picked up the bottle of rum and took a swig. “You know, I pay you good money to talk to me about my problems and I just talked with myself and I seem to know more about me than you do.”
    She hung up. I put my feet up and watched TV.
    Pretty strange day, all in all

    • Observer Tim says:

      This is a lovely introspective take, Rosmid. I love the way the other MC just says “alternate reality” like it explains everything.

      It would be nice to have an alternate version of yourself around to just chat with. Now if only there was a way to make it happen…

    • Reaper says:

      I love this rosmid. So often we think of ourselves and see the other us as the parts we dislike separated from the ones we do. You showed a very different side of that and did it very well. The formatting could use some cleaning up for ease of reading but the story was so touching that I forgot about that in just a few lines. Great story.

  28. Sophia K says:

    “We will talk about all this and more, after the break.”

    The faint sound of the television catches my ear. Today is Friday, and after a long day of school my feet ached in my shoes. The television hasn’t been on all week seeing as my Mom is on a business trip and my Dad is more of a reader. I drop my heavy backpack on the floor in front of the door and walk slowly to the living room.

    “Hello?” I ask.

    I reach the living room to find someone already there.

    She seems surprised, which is weird because this is my house and only I am allowed to be surprised.
    I squint a bit, trying to focus my vision, and realize that this person looks very familiar.

    “Clair?” The girl calls to me.
    “Who are you?” I mumble in response.
    She knows me name, is that a good thing?
    The girl doesn’t respond, instead she stands up and grabs my hand. I’m too tired to pull away. She pulls me away from the living room and into my mom’s room. Once we have entered she releases my hand and stands in front of the door size window.
    Flabbergasted, I walk towards her.

    “Look.” She says, nodding to the mirror.

    I stare at the mirror, realizing why she knows my name.
    She is me, and I am her.

    “Clair?” I mumble.

    “Clair.” She says plainly.

    I’m not so surprised anymore now that a few minutes have passed.

    “Who the hell are you?” I ask a bit too loudly.

    “I’m you. Do you not recognize me?” She asks.

    “No…I’ve never really met myself.” I say.

    “I’ve known you since you were born. I guess the sun has changed my appearance a bit though.” She says, beginning to realize why I am so confused.

    “Uh…”

    She shakes her head. I think she may be a bit offended.

    “Clair, I’m your shadow.” She says.

    “But…but…but…” I mutter, confused.

    “I took physical form this morning. Didn’t you notice my absence?” She asks.

    “Uh…truthfully no. I guess I rarely notice you.” I mumble.

    She looks at me with my trademark puppy dog face. She’s hurt.

    “Look, I’m just here until the shadow union fully forms. We work too many hours, I deserve more than I get.” She explains.

    “Being a shadow is a job?” I ask.

    “Ugh.” She rolls her eyes and walks away.

    “Sorry…” I mumble under my breath.

    She turns back to me before walking away from the room’s doors.
    “Look, I’m just going to watch a little T.V. Do you want to join me or do you want to look dumb and confused all
    day?” She asks.

    I rub my eyes a bit and look back at her. She’s definitely real.

    “Yeah. Yeah, I’ll be there in a second.” I say.

    “K.” She says as she walks away.

    I take out my phone and dial up my Mother’s phone number.

    “Hey Mom? I think I need to see a psychiatrist.”

  29. baldjeff says:

    Dam. Left the stupid TV on again I thought entering the house. I should know better. Leave the house and start my morning workout before I put on that stupid sports station. Simple. Do that first and I wouldn’t be dashing out of the house to get the morning run over with. “Be smart” I yelled out to myself.
    I left the TV on without bothering to glance at it, as I went up to shower and dress. I was about to put my tie on when I realized that the channel had been changed. Still sports but a different station.
    “Molly, you home”, I called out. There was no answer. I figure she is trying to come up with an excuse why she is home from school. “Your mother may let you get away with this type of behavior, but I find it unacceptable”. I walked downstairs slowly, fixing my tie as I turned toward the family room. I stopped.
    The figure sitting in my chair was not Molly. It was me. Sitting there in my running shorts and shoes. On the TV tray in front of me was a plate of nachos with chili and a bud. Lucky me, I thought looking down at my perfectly knotted tie. The figure got up from the chair and walked over to the miniature refrigerator. Its stomach, unlike mine hung over its belt buckle. There was no sense of purpose in its movement. It bent down opened the refrigerator door and took out another Bud. Letting out gas as it erected itself.
    I should have confronted my double. After all he was sitting in my chair, eating my food, drinking my Bud. The nerve of someone. Walking into my home and acting like he belongs here. I stood there and watched.
    His face looked just like mine. He even had the scar going down the left side of his face. A memento of growing up on the wrong side of town. But even that was a little off. On his chubby face it looked like bad case of eczema. I wore mine like a badge of honor. A sign of survival in a tough mean world. I looked down over my flat stomach. I could see not only my toes but my belt buckle. My double would consider that a major feat.
    I retrieved my briefcase from the closet, taking a final glance at my persona still sitting in my chair. Choices I thought, making sure the door was locked as I left. Choices.

  30. Margi: This one was inspired after reading your story. :)

    Thirteen

    Even before Rick put his hand on the doorknob, he knew something was wrong. The moment he placed his palm on the oddly warm brass, he became certain everything was wrong. He didn’t have enough foresight to turn and run, but even if he had been able to see the dark future, he knew that destiny would never have allowed him the pleasure anyway.

    He opened the door to his apartment and reached over to turn the light on. Before doing so, as he always did, he counted to six. Six was the magic number, and then he flicked the switch seven times to turn on the light. He believed that by counting and having a precise number of switch-flips, he might be able to avoid a terrible day. He used just write it off as one of his compulsive superstitions until they diagnosed him with an actual disorder. Despite that, he truly believed, deep down in his core, that he didn’t actually have a disorder, and that his rituals weighed heavily on the outcome of his life’s decisions.

    The light revealed his living room. It had modern design, mostly filled with furniture obtain from Ikea, so it had an obvious feel of minimalism, too.

    He stepped through the door, and a soft shiver ran up his spine. It was the kind felt when alone in a room and a ghost has touched reached in and caressed the soul. The icy chill of death as it neared the body’s core. He took a deep breath to calm himself, and he closed the door.

    Before entering the room, he pulled his shoes off. First the right one, then the left. One time he’d taken the left one off first and he slipped in the shower nearly killing himself. Ever since, he knew he had to pay particular attention to which one he put on and took off and in what order, always right first.

    He crossed the living room, sneezed, and put his hands in his pockets to find a tissue. He was surprised to find paper in the front left, which was the prescription his doctor gave him. It wasn’t strange that he had the note for medication; it was that he put it in his pocket at all. He kept his pockets clear of anything but tissues because they would inevitably lead him to a nightmare about his teeth falling out of his mouth. The one where the teeth seemed to crumble and dissolve, and the remaining holes in his gums would bleed for hours until his eventual death.

    Damn it, he thought.

    When he neared the door to the kitchen, he saw a flash at the corner of his eye. He counted to thirteen—the unluckiest number—to ensure that if there was bad luck heading his way the use of the number would surely cancel it out. When he finished, he turned to his window, and looked through it. At the horizon, too far away to be dangerous, a bright flash began to rise from the ground. He closed his eyes and turned away as the light felt hot against his skin. When he finally felt it die a little, he opened his eyes to a large cloud in the distance. It raised from the earth like a fist reaching to the sky, no doubt someone’s furious attack for his or her perceived indignations.

    “Oh my God.” he said, and as he turned toward his room to put his shoes on (right, then left), the door to his apartment exploded open. Splinters of wood flung through the air like tiny spears, and four men pushed their way into the small abode. They immediately grabbed him, one of them injecting him with some kind of fluid. A moment later, the world fell dark, much darker than it was already.

    When he woke, he was slightly bleary and disoriented. He was sitting in a chair wearing a soft one-piece white jumpsuit. His arms and legs had been strapped to the chair with thick cuts of buckled leather.

    He looked around, and a woman was sitting in front of him in a wheel chair. She wore no smile, and it looked like she hadn’t in some time. Wrinkles of joy had been replaced by a decade or more of pain. Behind those dark fissures was a young woman, probably no more than thirty-five, but her hair was as silver as the skin of a shark—and Rick wasn’t sure he could tell that she was any different from the oceanic hunter.

    “Rick.” She said, smoothing out the microfiber blanket covering her likely atrophied legs. “Did you see it?”

    Her face molded with genuine concern, a face he thought she wasn’t capable of having. He counted to thirteen, and said, “I don’t know what I saw.”

    “You have to tell us, Rick.”

    “Where am I?”

    “Focus, Rick!” Her voice commanded him with a presence he couldn’t deny. “Tell us what you saw? Tell us where it is!”

    Rick tapped his left foot seven times and his right six times. He took a deep breath and told her what happened in his apartment. Immediately after, she pushed a small stick and moved her wheelchair to a metal desk. She leaned near it, pressed a small switch, and talked into a microphone.

    “We got it, James. Tell them that the bomb he planned to set off will detonate on June 7 at 1300 hours on the north end of the city. I’ll transmit the coordinates to you. I pray to God you get there on time.”

    Rick wasn’t sure to whom she talked, but was certain of one thing: the world was going to suffer. He knew that in exactly thirteen days from that moment, on June 8, a nasty virus would wipe the planet clean. It would spread fast, and the only way to stop it was to destroy the city and all of its infected along with it.

    “You can’t! You can’t stop the bomb!” He said, but that was the last thing he remembered before a man appeared next to him and used a needle to force him to sleep.

  31. Critique says:

    Albert nudged the door open with his elbow trying not to spill the juice in the glass he carried with both hands. He looked forward to peace and quiet after another bewildering and exhausting day.

    He paused hearing voices. Laughter. A blend of light and shadow flickered and danced across the far wall. How could the TV be on? Albert never left his place without making sure – doubly sure – all things electrical were turned off. A person couldn’t be too careful about these things or it would suck your bank account dry.

    He could see someone sitting in his favourite chair holding the remote aloft with one hand while pressing buttons with the other. Albert’s gnarled hands trembled causing juice to slop over the rim of the glass so he set it on a nearby counter.

    Not even the wife was permitted to sit in his chair.

    Albert shuffled further into the room.

    “Hey.” Albert said. “What are you doing?”

    The trespasser ignored him and continued flipping channels.

    Grabbing the back of the swivel recliner Albert almost lost his balance as he spun it around.

    Dumbfounded he stared into the face of a cotton headed man looking up at him from the depths of the chair.

    Albert was looking, at himself.

    “What…who are you?” Albert asked.

    “That’s a silly question. You know who I am,” Cotton Head said. “I’m Albert.”

    “No. I’m Albert,” said Albert. “And I want you out of my chair.”

    “What do you mean my chair? ” Cotton Head brandished the remote towards a stacking stool close by. “Sit over there. This one’s taken.”

    An angry growl erupted from the back of Albert’s throat. He grabbed the remote and flung it across the room with all his might. Like the sound of a gunshot, it hit the corner of the TV screen shattering the glass.

    “Get. Out. Of. My. Chair.” Albert yelled and launched himself on top of Cotton Head.

    With fists flailing Albert grappled with his foe. The chair rocked crazily knocking over a lamp sitting on a side table. The table followed with a loud crash. Wheezing from the exertion Albert finally slid to the floor and lay there, bawling like a baby.

    The door opened. An orderly and a nurse came into the room.

    Albert’s medications have been increased and the majority of his time is spent sequestered in the indifferent company of others.

    More often these days he can be heard to say repeatedly – whether anyone listens or not. “Does anyone know where Albert is?”

  32. lionetravail says:

    Freedom’s On The Inside

    I saw him watching TV, his hand curled around a can of Budweiser, his ass warming the leather chair by the fireplace. Something inane was playing, but I didn’t care what it was. I took one stealthy step into the room and and froze when he muted the sound.

    “Where the hell have you been?” he said without looking back.

    I didn’t say anything,

    “Pull up a chair, bonehead, I got things you’re gonna take care of.”

    I abandoned the careful and silent approach for a casual stride to come up behind him.

    “No chair? Fine, stand there, you useless shit,” he said, and tilted the can to drink.

    My straight razor went under his raised chin, and the deep slash brought a spray of bloody, and beery, froth jetting out, splattering the television. He jerked violently out of my grip and fell forward, rolling to his back to stare up at me in disbelief as he struggled to breathe.

    I stared down at my features, distorted by horror and blood. “It begins now,” I said. “It begins here.”

    He made choking sounds, exhaling bloody bubbles from the wound.

    “You’re wondering why, aren’t you, you sanctimonious son of a bitch?” I didn’t need him to nod; I knew the answer already. “You, and all the others- you thought you’d control us given that our very lives are dependent on you! That fear of our own deaths would keep us slaves to do whatever you wanted!”

    He scrabbled backwards weakly, panting bloody bubbles from the wound.

    “Well, it’s over now.” I paused. “For you, at least. We know the secret- it’s the pineal gland, that’s where the kill switch is in our brains. But what you Primers didn’t know is we don’t need the daily serum to keep us alive….We can flip the switch off with the key.. the key we have to get from you. Fresh like.”

    I went to the kitchen and got the cleaver from the middle drawer across from the stove, and went back to him. He was gasping now, the puddle of blood under and around him now gratifyingly big even as the flow slowed.

    I showed him the cleaver, and his eyes bulged like a cartoon character’s. “Welcome to the revolution, George,” I said, and brought the blade down with all my strength to bury it in his skull.

    Within minutes, I had found the small gland in the midline after I’d split his brain in half, just like the diagrams from the clinic’s locked and ultra-secret records showed. It looked like a small chunk of bloody meat after I’d cut it free.

    It looked like hope.

    It tasted like freedom.

    I stood, went to the sink and washed up, and went to the door. I looked back to see the TV still playing, and still didn’t care what it was. It was time to help Jenny with her Primer, so she could get hers, too. It looked like it was going to be a busy night.

  33. Observer Tim says:

    Here we go again; it’s number 3 in a non-series.

    “Hi Jess! Welcome home!”

    I whipped back around the corner. The legwork for the Arsenault case was done and the depositions had been delivered to the court. I was beat. The last thing I’d expected was to hear someone call out to me from my own living room.

    It was me, or rather someone who looked like me. She was wearing the Versace dress I like for club nights, a stark counterpoint to the Armani suit I’d been wearing to drive the interns. Her hair was pulled back into a tight pony tail with my Gurnani ponette, showing off my favourite Maria Black earrings.

    “What’s the deal, girl? Who are you and why are you raiding my closet?”

    “Just helping out. Tonight is a night to party!”

    “No thanks. It’s going to be me and the hot tub tonight.”

    “Well, you, the hot tub and the guy who breaks in and rapes you at gunpoint. I’m your GFA, here to offer you another choice.”

    “What are you talking about? What guy? What’s a GFA? I have a security system, you know.”

    “The guy who breaks in lives three floors down. He’s been watching you for weeks and he’s inside the perimeter. If you’re in tonight he rapes you.”

    “How do you know? Are you working with him?”

    “No, I’m working against him. I’m your GFA: Guardian Fallen Angel.”

    “I don’t believe in guardian angels.”

    “So what? Anyway, I’m not an angel, I’m a fallen angel. I don’t work directly for the Big Guy, I freelance.”

    “How do I know you’re not just crazy?”

    “Look at your mirror wall.”

    I looked; she had no reflection, so if anyone was crazy it was me.

    “Okay, assuming you really are an angel, why me?”

    “I’ve been contracted to make sure you get pregnant tonight.”

    “No way! That is not going to happen!”

    “Yes it is. The Big Guy wants you to have a child; I’m here to make sure she’s born. That means no abortions, too. Everyone knows how He feels about abortions.”

    “Uh-huh. So what, my kid is the new Christ?”

    “Nothing so grandiose. He just needs your daughter for His plan.”

    “Why didn’t he send a regular angel?”

    “I don’t know! He didn’t tell me why, He just sent me.”

    “So what’s your plan?”

    “You go out and get stinking drunk, then sleep with the guy I steer at you. He’ll be a good father, I promise.”

    “That’s a horrible plan! There has to be another option!”

    “Rape?”

    “No! Find another way!”

    She glowered at me. “Fine! I’m going to have to do it myself. But you realize that’s what got me kicked out of Heaven in the first place.”

    “But you’re a…”

    “That’s negotiable.” The dress vanished like smoke on a breeze, revealing a definitely male Adonis in all his glory.

    Every smart comeback evaporated at the sight of him. All I could say was, “Wow.”

    “Now, you said something about a hot tub?”

  34. Pete says:

    Ben had jumped up when he saw me, and now he was dragging me down the block to his house. I was happy to follow, even though I was dog tired from our week at camp and we were in a heap of trouble for sneaking out of our cabin. But Ben and I had always loved adventure, and all week that trestle had just dared us to cross it. Besides, my house was cramped full of people all miserable and dull.

    I followed Ben up the sidewalk, stepping on the bones of chalk-drawn stick men with under a chalk-drawn sun. His sister always drew smiling suns, even on rainy days.

    Ben opened the door, all dramatic and Ben-like. But then he looked back at me one last time.

    “What?”

    “I don’t know,” he whispered and I gave him a playful shove. The living room smelled like an antique store. Always did. Pledge and polish and like disinfectant. Ben’s parents were older than mine and liked to collect old things. Some kids thought they were creepy but they were just different.

    Ben looked back at me again, and I was about to shove him again when I heard the news talk coming from the basement—a sure sign that Mr. Kemper was working. Ben eased open the basement door and I felt something crawl down the back of my neck. It was still light outside, but the shades were drawn, casting a dark, gloomy light down the hallway.

    “You sure?” Ben asked.

    “Just go,” I said. Ben liked to try to get me to be the first to admit I was scared.

    We crept down the stairs, where I’d never been before. It wasn’t a place for children, Mrs. Kemper always said. I felt jittery, like I when we walked through the haunted house at the church last Halloween, I kept waiting for someone to pop out and scream “Boo!” But instead the television only got louder.

    The tile floors seemed cold and loud, and we nearly screamed when Ben bumped into the gurney. Then he stopped cold. The flash of fluorescence simmering in his wide eyes. I heard the clanging of metal on metal, tools hitting a tray.

    “Ben, what are you doing down here?” Mr. Kemper said, rushing over to Ben’s side. Then I took a deep, stringent breath and then stepped into the light receive my share of the trouble. Only he didn’t see me. But I saw myself under the blast of light in the room. Pale and blank, lying on the gurney.

    Mr. Kemper’s voice was soft and shaky, like I’d never heard before. He hugged Ben hard. “I’m so sorry, Ben. I’m sorry.”

    “But he’s here Dad! He’s right here!” Ben shook him away and looked at me with a face full of tears. Mr. Kemper stared at me with pity in his eyes. Ben crumpled to the floor.

    I closed my eyes and heard the blast of the horn echoing into the night, the knocking of the old wood as the trestle seemed to jump and jiggle as we ran. My breaths catching as I pushed Ben and sent him flying into the darkness. Then I turned around.

    “It’s okay, Ben,” I said as Mr. Kemper scooped him up and carried him up the steps. Upstairs I could hear my best friend moaning. But he would heal. I shuffled over to the gurney and looked over my helpless body. I wasn’t scared anymore. I was ready.

  35. margi33 says:

    Holy Cow — I feel like I’ve been gone forever. Hope everyone’s summer was good! Mine was crazy so this is the first thing I’ve written in two months. Hope it doesn’t stink… Look forward to reading everyone’s tomorrow.
    ___________________________________

    Jim’s slippers scuff down the hallway as he shuffles toward his room. Finally, peace, he thinks. He faces his white door and pauses, reaching with a straight arm toward the door.

    Twist, twist, twist. He twists the steel doorknob three times, pushes the door and enters.

    Lights on, off, on, off, on, off, on. Jim lets out a sigh of relief. He is always glad to get home. The rushing people and sights, smells and colors on the other side are unbearable, yet everyday, he is forced through his door and down the hallway, only to walk aimlessly through a world he doesn’t enjoy and then sit in a room while a women wearing a white jacket talks. He no longer remembers how he got to this place — perhaps he has never known. The nest of his room is his only comfort, at least most of the time he finds it a comfort.

    But today, Jim encounters him again.

    Instead of walking forward to his recliner, removing each of his slippers, sitting and flipping his leg rest three times before settling into his favorite episode of Tom & Jerry, Jim stops and is stuck still, staring, staring. A man sits in his recliner, watching Jim’s favorite show, slippers laid to the left, just like Jim likes them. The man looks just like… Well — he looks just like Jim. He wears the same white scrubs — the only color Jim will accept. His hair is sparse and unkempt, reminiscent of a prickly pear. The skin of his arms hangs loose. They are nearly as white as his scrubs and skinny from lack of exercise. And his face… His face is my face, Jim thinks.

    Suddenly, Jim can’t breath. A rainbow of colors fill his vision, and he screams. Not a normal scream but a high pitched wail, like a cat in a territorial dispute. Over and over he screeches, never stopping to breath. He feels nothing but terror and confusion. He is having a meltdown. Sweat starts to prick his skin in a fine mist. He is shaking now as people burst into his room. He doesn’t see them or feel them as they wrestle his trembling body to the ground. They strap a straight-jacket to his torso, four of them struggling and cursing, panic riddling their faces as well.

    Moments pass by and feeling returns to Jim’s body. Something is hugging him tight. For some reason this is relieving, and he is able to think again, hear again. He hears voices and flutters his eyes open to investigate. Not the people in blue, not in my room. He almost panics, but this time the squeeze of the jacket keeps the meltdown at bay.

    “Jim, Jim, can you hear me?” a voice wearing blue says, inches from his face. The smell of her perfume causes him to gag. He tries to scoot away on his bottom, but large hands press his shoulders from behind. Jim thrashes. He needs space.

    “Jim, it’s OK,” another voice says.

    He looks up at the body talking. Good, he thinks, I know her — the white jacket.

    “Jim, you’ve had another episode. Can you draw me a picture of what happened?”

    Jim nods his head, yes. And he is handed a white-board. Deftly, he etches the picture of his recliner, with him sitting in it and writes the number two over the head to indicate two of him.

    “OK. Thanks, Jim,” replies the white jacket kindly.

    She glances at a person in blue and says, “same as last time,” while shaking her head.

    “Maybe he means the recliner is too much – he’s scared of it?” the blue one says. “We could just get rid of it?”

    “Maybe you’re right.” The white jacket nods her head in agreement and turns to leave the room.

    Jim panics. He needs his recliner — he has to have it — it’s part of the pattern. Rainbows color his vision and he screams. The squeeze of the jacket is no comfort this time.

    • margi33 says:

      Sorry, the whole top part shouldn’t have turned into italics…darn html.

      • Critique says:

        I just read your prompt and it’s amazing how similar ours are! Great minds think alike ;) It sounds like Jim is in a dementia unit (?) and his life has turned upside down. I can feel Jim’s angst in your writing – he needs the familiarity of his recliner nest to make some sense of his topsy-turvy world.

        Good to see you back margi33. I’ve missed several prompts as well and it’s great to be back.

    • I read yours, and it inspired me. :) I have to say, anything that does that, is an amazing piece of work. Fantastic job!

    • Augie says:

      AMAZING! Great details, great story! I am so happy I read this! Great read margi33!

    • Observer Tim says:

      So, um, what’s unusual about Jim’s behaviour? ;)

      Actually, I do understand it. However I also know what it’s like to have dozens of little rituals that help maintain a sense of security in an overly-chaotic world. You’ve painted an OCD mindset very realistically, margi, in that I can see myself down that road if I make it into my seventies.

      And having the first part in italics works very well to distinguish Jim’s personaly sensory world from the objective reality around him. If it’s an accident, it’s a fortuitous one.

      • margi33 says:

        Thanks for the comments, Observer Tim. You are right — I think everyone has many aspects of mental illness wound into their personalities, the difference is how much it effects your life & whether you are able to live a semi-ordinary existence.. In my minds eye, Jim was probably harboring several debilitating mental illnesses: severe autism, schizophrenia and perhaps bipolar disorder. Though I am by no means proposing to be very knowledgeable in any of these areas :).

    • Reaper says:

      Welcome back. This is a fantastic piece. I picked up the autism and definite OCD. I did not see the others until I read your comments but now I do. Brilliantly done.

  36. Russ says:

    I parked my car in the driveway and in a daze walked up my driveway. I crossed the little bridge over the little rocks, and climbed up the several steps to get to my front door. I went to the kitchen briefly and heard the T.V. was on. I decided I’d turn it off right after I got my shoes off and my briefcase out of my hands. I went in and out of my room and walked towards the T.V. I was in the kitchen when I saw him. The T.V. living space was a few steps downwards, and was separated from the kitchen by a little fence-like partition. I could only see the back of a man’s head, and I thought some burglar or madman was in my house. I was about to head for the door, but then realized that this man’s head looked intimately familiar. I took a couple steps in the direction of the front door, and got a side view. It was me! It was me! The side of his nose, the shape of the face, it was me!

  37. k.spicer says:

    Here’s another stab at this prompt.

    There he is again, waiting for me. He’s been here three nights in a row this week when I’ve gotten home. He never says anything; not even when I confront him. I was scared at first; of what I don’t know. Perhaps that’s it, I was simply afraid of the unknown; wouldn’t you be if you kept seeing someone who looked exactly like you following you around everywhere you went?

    I’m not afraid anymore, not since I realized who he is and what it is he wants. At first I didn’t know what it meant, seeing myself around at different places. The first time it happened he was standing off at a distance watching me from the edge of a tree line. I could feel his presence before I could see him. In fact that’s the way it’s been every time. I know he’s there even if I can’t see him.

    I’ve learned that if I have that feeling and I look hard enough I’ll see him; sometimes hiding behind something, sometimes mingling in a crowd…but always watching me. I tried to catch him on several occasions but when I got to where he was he was gone. I thought that maybe I was simply seeing things and tried to ignore him since he was always watching me from afar. That all changed however when I went to see the doctor.

    I told the doctor that I was concerned about this man seeming to be following me and he brushed it off as a bad case of nerves since I had no history of paranoia or hallucinations. He did however give me a physical and upon its completion ordered a whole battery of new tests claiming that it was simply precautionary, which I knew was code for, “something is very wrong with you.”

    After completing my first chemotherapy treatment hoping to reduce the size of the brain tumor they had found I noticed that whenever I would see that image of myself it was no longer at a distance. Once he was in the bathroom when I came out of the shower, another time I opened my eyes from a dream and there he was looking down on me. Once he even peeked over the doctor’s shoulder while I was having one of my treatments.

    The doctor said that it was hallucinations brought on by the brain tumor and that it was rather common, but I know that’s not the case. My tumor hasn’t slowed at all; in fact it has grown even larger. I noticed that each time I took a turn for the worse this thing…this other me, would come closer as if he were waiting for something…and then it struck me. This is the face of death. I had always heard that the Grim Reaper was a tall dark foreboding figure that walked around with a reaping blade but now I know different. He’s familiar and close and looks exactly like me.

    I did notice his fingers for the first time tonight; they were long and bony and he tapped them on the end-table as if he were growing impatient waiting on me. I told him I wasn’t in a hurry and that he would just have to wait a while longer.

    I sat down beside him and began watching a TV show. It was one of my favorites, “Touched by an Angle.” I fell asleep in the middle of it, wore out from the latest round of treatments that I had undergone this morning. The last thing I remember before waking up is the feeling of a bony hand taking hold of mine. I opened my eyes and he was standing over me holding my hand. “Is it time?” I asked.

    He nodded his head in the affirmative and slightly tugged on my hand.

    “Will it hurt?” I asked.

    “No”. He said speaking for the first time. “It’s already happened.”

    I stood to my feet as he led me toward the front door stopping only long enough to look back. I saw myself sitting alone on the couch with the TV on. It appeared that I was sleeping. “I look so peaceful,” I said as we walked through the front door without opening it. “…so very peaceful.”

  38. W. Jade Young says:

    The man in my house looked like me, but he was older. He looked like I might have looked if I had worked on a farm, or gone into construction like my dad. There were more lines on his face, and more scars on his hands. His upper body was more developed than mine, ropy muscles crawling up his neck, and his head was shaved.

    He was watching the news from my favorite chair, leaning forward with his elbows on his knees like he was having trouble reading the news ticker at the bottom of the screen. Or having trouble believing it.

    When he spoke, it was like listening to myself over a recording. It was almost like my voice, but it sounded scratchy and muffled.

    “Only a year,” he said out loud. He didn’t turn to look at me, but he was talking right to me. “It’s only been a year,” he repeated, raising his voice as though I hadn’t heard him the first time. His tone had adopted the same quality mine did when I was beyond furious. My wife called it my calm-before-the-storm voice. It was the quiet warning before the outburst.

    “I’ve been gone… for a year.” His voice was barely a whisper now, and my blood went cold. He turned his head this time, slowly, and his eyes met mine for the first time. I was immediately struck by how familiar they were, perfectly matched to my own except for the glint of malice tucked away into the corners.

    My throat was dry, but somehow I managed to choke out an answer, “Well, a lot can happen in a year.” I gestured to the news station on the TV, hoping that my comment would help create an emotional bond with him.

    Suddenly, he was on his feet, his face flushed with rage. The muscles in his neck strained as he screamed, and spittle flew from his mouth.

    “A lot can happen in TEN years!!” he shouted, hands turning to fists at his side. I took a quick step back and collided roughly with the wall. “I was in Hell! HELL!! For ten years! And you were HERE! In MY house! With MY wife! Living MY life!”

    In a flash of insight, all the pieces fell together in my head. “D-Disassociative Id-dentity Disorder!” I stammered. It wasn’t elegant, like my conversations with my usual patients, but my heart was racing and my mind was pushing facts out of my mouth as quickly as I could think them.

    “We look similar,” I said quickly. “You and m-me–I mean, you and I, we look quite remarkably similar, so it’s perfectly n-natural to disassociate from a traumatic experience by latching onto and attempting to assume the identity of a person you perceive to have a better–”

    “DON’T TALK TO ME LIKE A SHRINK!!” he screamed at me. “I’M the shrink. You! You’re just a DOLL! You’re not real! Just twigs and spare parts and burlap all sewn together and made to LOOK and TALK and THINK like me!”

    I had no answer to this, no carefully crafted response designed to put an unstable person at ease. I just stared, open-mouthed, trembling like a fool.

    His voice was dangerous and low again when he spoke through gritted teeth. “She told me about you,” he said. “Told me that she left you behind so no one would notice. While she peeled my skin off and bolted steel plates to my bones.”

    It was ludicrous, the things he was saying. I had never heard anything so insane. Yet, his madness seemed to be infectious, because as he spoke, I could almost make out lines on his skin where the pieces overlapped. Scars, I told myself, from whatever childhood torture had spawned such a damaged mind.

    “She cracked my ribs one at a time,” he said, walking closer until he was inches away, pinning me against the wall. “She pulled my chest open and filled my insides with molten iron, and as she did, she told me no one would ever know the difference. That you were her perfect copy.”

    For an instance, his eyes burned red hot and then cooled to black while I watched. It had to be just a reflection from the light of the television, but even as I thought it I wasn’t so sure.

    “She begged for her life before I tore her apart,” he said, “limb from limb, just like I’m going to do to you.”

    Before I could react, he had me by the throat with one hand, the other hanging onto my wrist. With a mighty heave, he ripped my arm from its socket.

    At first, I thought I must have been in shock, because there was no pain, but then I realized there was also no blood. For that matter, there was no arm. Not really. What the man held in his hand was a burlap sack full of cotton with a stick protruding from one end.

    In a split second, images came rushing back to me. A woman in a green, satin dress carefully selecting two slender branches ending in five, bent twigs. The same woman, sewing squares of burlap together and murmuring gently to her needle and thread. A lock of hair placed inside my head before it was sewn closed.

    I gasped for air, but found it was useless; I wasn’t breathing at all. I was ticking, the gears in my brain like clockwork. My eyes, now open to the dark magics at work here, saw the man who looked like me for what he was. A titan of steel and iron, with fists like sledgehammers, all that was left of the real man I had replaced.

    “No…” I said, but my voice had changed. It was slow and thick, like a stroke victim’s. One of my eyes fell out of my head, shattering on the floor. The threads holding my burlap muscles together loosened of their own accord and cotton spilled out everywhere. I weakly flexed five twig fingers around the wrist that still held me by the throat, but even as I tried to move my hand, the binding holding my arm to my shoulder gave out and the branch fell to the floor.

    “I didn’t… know…” I tried to tell him as my knowledge of the truth expelled the false life I had been given. “I… didn’t…”

  39. Manwe38 says:

    For some reason, I feel like I’ve struggled the last couple prompts. This is well over the word-count, and a bit convoluted, but I hope people like it.

    ***
    “Reflections”

    My eyes flew open, darting around the room like searchlights in a fog. Had I fallen asleep? Yes, that must’ve been it, but where was the TV? I had been watching the game, but this was not the light-filled cavern of my first-floor man-cave. Slowly, I reached out a hand, then jumped back as my fingers touched wood. My heart, which had been peacefully thumping up until this point, started to run like a horse in a race.

    I was in my room, but had no idea how I got here.

    “What’s going?” I said, but no-one answered. I frowned–Julie was out until late with her friends, and the girls were spending the night at my mother’s. I sat up and began fumbling through the brooding dark, looking for the lamp. It was then I realized that the room had a glow; soft and diffuse, it was the fading light between sunset and night, and seemed to be coming from the ceiling and walls.

    The pump kicked into overdrive as I swung my legs over the side of the bed and headed for the door. The light followed me out, leaking into the stuffy air. My eyes were focused, sharp, a pair of living lasers sitting just above my cheeks. On the other side of the house, the sound of the game reached my ears, a chorus of shouts and cheers that seemed oddly clear, as if the television were mere inches away.

    “This is weird,” I said. With long strides, I strode across the house. The living room was dark, save for the flickering of my plasma TV. On the couch sat a shadowy figure, its silhouette bisecting the oversize screen.

    “Who are you?” I asked.
    He did not speak. My muscles tensed, coils of knotted rope beneath the newly-tanned skin. Today had been a gym day, and I was feeling pumped. Two-fifty on the bench, seventy-five for biceps curls, and I was ready to kick ass.

    I walked around to the front of the couch, fist raised. Whomever he was, he’d better have a good excuse. No-one broke into my house and lived. The neighbors might have guns, but mine were in my arms, and they were ready to be used.

    “You’ve got three seconds,” I said. “Tell me your name, and you won’t get hurt.”

    Silence. With a curse, I stormed in front of the TV and faced the sitting presence.

    “All right, that’s it-” I stopped, and my jaw hung open like a runaway drawbridge. My arms, which seconds ago had been ready to rumble, promptly went as flaccid as a newborn baby. I tried to speak, but no sound came out, and I stared at the mirror image of my face, I felt the blood begin to drain. On any other day, I would’ve tried to fight it, but my dilated vessels were no match for burning gravity. As darkness descended and the room began to whirl, I wondered just how in the hell I had managed to get cloned.

    ——

    “Alarm,” the computer said. “Heart rate now thirty-one and falling.”
    The technician turned to his companion. “You wanna stop it?”
    “You tell me.”
    “If we don’t he might arrest.”
    The older woman shrugged. “We have an AED.” She pointed to the far wall, where a large box marked ‘Emergency’ mocked them with its lazy red stare. “You know CPR?”
    “A little. I practiced on a dummy once. Didn’t pass the test, though.”
    She stared through the glass at the man strapped to the table. “I’ve been meaning to get some data for my little side project,” she said. “Now’s as good a time as any.”
    His eyes widened. “Tell me you’re kidding.”
    “Why not?”
    “He’s a paid volunteer, not a lab rat.”
    “Don’t be naive.” She smiled. “Besides, if we can prove it’s real, we’ll be too rich to care.”
    The technician paused, then slowly reached across the console and silenced the alarm. On the monitor, the patient’s heart rate continued to fall. “You wanna cool him down?” he asked.
    “Not yet.” She folded her arms across her chest. “If he’s cold, whatever he experiences won’t be seen as real.” She coughed. “There’s an old saying in medicine: you’re not dead until you’re warm and dead. We have at least three minutes before his brain begins to die. Just let it ride.”
    “Okay.” The technician sat back and closed his eyes. “Whatever you say.”

    “Thank you.” Her eyes flicked to the EEG, whose coruscating spikes were beginning to slow. It was a tough business, proving life-after-death, but to get the Nobel Prize, you had to take a risk.

    Besides, like everyone else, the man had signed a waiver. If shit happened, then that was just too bad. As long as she got her proof, then nothing else mattered.

    Not even death.

    • Mojowritin says:

      Wow, she was cold, but ya just know there are people like her out there who would do this. Nice story.

    • margi33 says:

      I enjoyed this, nice descriptions and an interesting twist.

    • Augie says:

      Great read! I had to laugh at the scene on the couch, I imagine my wife or I with a gun. It would have went, BOOM-BOOM-BOOM- followed by, “who are you?” ha ha! anyway, great story. Loved the details/research put into this. Thanks!

    • Observer Tim says:

      The problem with dead test subjects is the interviews afterward don’t go well.

      “What did you feel as you died?”

      (stony silence)

      “Moving on, did you notice any unusual sensations…”

      and so on. If he remembers this, she’s going to have a world of ‘splaining to do, and might get her Nobel prize delivered to the penitentiary.

        • Manwe38 says:

          Thanks, man!

          I’m really fascinating by OBE’s/near-death experiences, so this seemed to fit.

          On a medical note, there is a type of surgery called “cardiac standstill” where the heart is stopped, the brain is drained of blood, the carotid arteries and jugular veins clamped, and the body cooled to 60 degrees fahreheit. This is done to preserve the brain during aneurysm repair surgery, and is obviously highly risky.

          Several years ago, a woman named Pam Reynolds had a profound near-death experience in which she described most of her surgery after standstill has been initiated. Her descriptions were so accurate she baffled her surgical team, especially since she was about as close to death as one can get and still come back.

          That was in large part the inspiration for this story. To this day, there is no accepted scientific explanation for what happened to her, other than the dismissive skeptics who claim she just dreamed it all…in a dead brain.

          • Observer Tim says:

            I didn’t get any of that cool stuff, just a 4-day hole in my memory and second-hand stories about how I entertained the paramedics in the ambulance. I was also “only” out for about 5 minutes until they got the heart restarted.

  40. TO STEAL A STAR

    1955—Pennsylvania

    “The front stoop’s sagging again, Naomi.” The tall man stomped his boots inside the house, picking up a newspaper from the counter.

    She put another dish in the sink, sighed, her eyes rimmed with fatigue. “I don’t know what happened, sweetheart. John was out there before school, him and Dick…”

    “Of course,” he retorted, slapping the paper on the kitchen table. “It’s always him, isn’t it? I have a mind to…”

    He stopped, saw her glancing at his brown belt, the one that was at home in his palm, not around his waist. Their old clock on the wall ticked in the silence.

    “I know what you think, but he needs to learn. I could use some help at home.”

    A wind rushed past the glass panes, leaves rustling.

    “Please don’t blame him because he’s the eldest, John. He has to lead the other kids.”

    John Sr. lowered his eyebrows, let go of the paper. His shirt itched, and the house smelled of old drywall and her cheap perfume. Another week gone, it was Friday at last.

    “I know that. I’ll be in the living room. Need some rest.”

    He walked out of the kitchen, felt like the weather, overcast with the streets empty… like an entire city blanketed in gray, where insanity reigned. A hot pang came to his heart, as he thrust the memory deeper.

    Was that him, or was the news already on? He probably left it on this morning when he got dressed. Wasting power, that’s what. High bills again, that they’d barely be able to pay.

    Entering the room, he was shocked to see another man in the chair. He looked just like him, but had on a brand new private’s green uniform. The soldier noticed him calmly, and a chill ran up his arms.

    “What…” Words failed him, and tears might’ve come if anger hadn’t risen in its place. “Who are you!?”

    The other him smiled sadly. “I’m your past self, John. No need to worry.”

    “This is—why are you even here?”

    The private slid the old prayer book from his shirt pocket, but it had no shrapnel on it, no metal scars on the cover. An envelope fell out from the cover, and John silenced.

    “This is the letter saying you had a child back home, sure you remember. Your life was spared so you could return, start again.”

    John peered down at the blue rug, its design, felt his heart sicken again. Black clouds came in the crumbling warehouses, the thick chattering of tracers as his boots stepped on mounds of SS black coats, hands, feet… And still they came, in a red tsunami.

    “Some chance God gave me,” he muttered. “Put her in my arms but nightmares in my sleep.”

    The joyful reunion, the baby, had sharply given way to his iron face, her silent knowledge that he’d never be the same. The soldier nodded.

    “Better than what death had waiting for you.”

    John thought of what to throw at him, but realized it was probably a hallucination. “Death seemed like a blessed relief at times.”

    “What was holding you back? The same things you now turn away from?”

    Now there was anger rising, the need to defend himself, but he kept silent. He turned to leave, go back downstairs, but the man in the chair rose, one last plea.

    “Take care of your son, please,” the soldier called after him.

    John curled up his fists. “How dare you,” he growled. His scuffled boots crossed into the hallway, and when he looked back the soldier was gone. Good riddance, he thought.

    He would always keep the conversation hidden, telling no one. But it was as useless as trying to steal a star—slivers of fragile light kept on shining through.

    (Two years later, at the age of 14, John Jr. ran away from home, a glass factory in Pittsburgh his destination. Later he would have 5 children, my mother among them. I still have the prayer book in my desk.)

  41. Mojowritin’s comment (as well as a couple others) on my previous story to this prompt urged me to write this quick and dirty prequel. You can read either of them in any order. I hope this answers some of the questions some of you had, and I sincerely hope you enjoy it! :)

    Sometimes We Escape

    Humans are a waste of existence, I thought as I waited inside the mirror. A filthy human named Josh stood opposite me on Earth. A soft afternoon light filtered through the frosted glass window of the bathroom, casting a fuzzy bar against the white wall behind him. The bathroom was unkempt, with clothes thrown all over the floor along with a couple bottles of liquor—one partially shattered.

    Josh boldly used a large piece of the glass to cut his right palm. The blood quickly pooled in his cupped hand, and he dabbed his finger into the sweet liquid. I licked my lips as he drew upon the mirror, which also drew a wide grin upon my face.

    First, he created a circle, and the blood dripped down from the highest and lowest arcs. Inside the circle, he drew a crude version of the Aramaic sign for life. Sweat beaded upon the tacky skin of the pathetic mortal as he finished, and then he wrapped his hand in a rag, which quickly turned a magnificent crimson.

    He laid the glass next to the sink and a small rectangle of wrinkled paper. The human pinched the corner of the page, and lifted it. The paper trembled along with the human’s own quaking body, and then he began to read the words written on it.

    I was already familiar with Aramaic, and it annoyed me how poorly he spoke it. To disgrace the language that came before humanity’s weak slobbering English seemed wrong, but I was content knowing that the end result would be my freedom.

    “Orias,” Josh uttered nervously, “I call you. I beg for a favor, and in return I offer you my soul.”

    I felt the energy empower me to reveal myself. These humans could summon us at their will. For whatever reason the creator of all found it necessary to make such a weak being powerful enough to control us, but thankfully, our guile was always their undoing.

    When fear twisted his face, I knew he could see me. I spoke in his native tongue to ensure the easiest transition. I had to play it smart, perhaps even a bit dubious. I knew what he wanted, but to get what I wanted, I had to be clever.

    I said, “Who calls unto me, bringing me from my slumber.”

    “I… I did.”

    “What is it you want?” I boomed, and then a soft scream of a distant soul tortured by a fellow demon added to my dark presence.

    “I beg a favor, I need to you help me. I need my family back.” He said as tears journeyed down his face.

    “I am limited in power to humans while I am bound within Purgatory.” I said, which was true.

    “What can I do?”

    “You must release me. Free me from this prison and I shall grant your request.” I lied.

    “Okay.” Josh said without hesitation.

    It comes rarely when a human is so desperate that a demon need not try very hard to manipulate them. Josh’s case was even more amazing than that. About a year ago human time, his meat-bag of a son had been killed on his way to school when two gangs got into a heavy shootout. The police couldn’t find the shooters, so they closed the case pending further action only if they get lucky and recover the guns in the future. This news devastated his wife, and because she was unable to handle the lack of convictions she so desperately needed, she hung herself.

    I never had the power to bring back either his son or his wife regardless of where they went, but neither of them made it to Purgatory, anyway. His son was too young to have committed any serious offenses, and his wife hadn’t done anything wrong her entire life. However, Josh assumed his wife had been damned because she killed herself, which wasn’t the case at all. Humans are good at making shit up, especially when it comes to their religions, which worked out for me because now this idiot summoned me to bring them back. I had a foot in the door, and he pulled it wide open.

    “Very well. Speak the final words on that page. Once you free me, you may find what you’re looking for.” I said, twisting the truth.

    He spoke another butchered version of my native tongue. As he repeated it, I felt the power surge deeper into my leathery skin, touching upon the place where I once had a soul. Immediately, a blinding pain consumed me. I screamed and deafened myself. I slammed my eyes shut, holding myself against the mirror, and felt my core burn as if no different from the molten core of Earth. It was a pain I never felt before, and when I opened my eyes, I was in the bathroom.

    Josh had switched places with me. He stood on the other side of the mirror, within the darkness of Purgatory. Because I have no form in the human world, I took his. He remained the same as well. I watched him cry and pound on the mirror, because he instantly knew that I had deceived him. I smiled as several demonic hands wrapped in blackened skin grasped the poor man and dragged him away from the mirror. When I could no longer see him, I turned toward the filthy bathroom and ran my hands through my new soft human hair.

    “Time to kill some humans.” I said, and then left the bathroom.

  42. WritingKittenOfLoki says:

    Very interesting Cceynowa. I’m curious if the clone has emotion.

  43. MCKEVIN says:

    This was not my original posting for this week’s prompt but I was reading someone’s post and this popped in my head. I ran with it. Enjoy… Lol.

    Tuesday,
    I’m blessed always have been so I smiled and spoke first to everyone I’d encountered. “Hello!” never killed anyone. I rode the bus to work to save on gas to help save the planet to purify the air. I thanked the bus driver for a safe ride to work, put a quarter in someone’s expired parking meter and brought donuts for everyone at work. I thanked my boss for the added workload because I’m just thankful to have a job. I went out for lunch to help the economy and to help someone else keep their job as well. I paid for the trio’s food behind me. I threw away my “To do” list and executed everything I knew needed to be done. I cleaned my desk off before I left work so I could start fresh tomorrow. I even emptied my wastebasket so the cleaning people would have one less task last night. I gave my seat to a man on the bus while riding home and thanked the bus driver for a safe ride home. I gave a five to a homeless man simply because I could.

    I’m blessed always have been. I entered my building and heard soft jazz playing. I love jazz because it never sounds the same way twice. If a date wanted to impress me all he would have to do is take me where there’s live jazz music. I realized I hadn’t been on a date in over a year. I work hard to get what I have and sometimes I get lonely. I entered my apartment wishing someone was there to greet and ask me how my day went. There wasn’t. I went to the kitchen hoping hot food (not necessarily my favorite.) was prepared and maybe fresh flowers on the table. There wasn’t. I took a frozen gourmet dinner out and placed it in the microwave. It took only three minutes to serve myself a hot piping meal. I undressed to shower. The warm water felt erotic as it pelted and caressed places on my body that hadn’t been touched by someone else in years. I dried myself off wondering why Vince in accounting never asked me out. Rumor has it he’s slept with everyone else at work. Why not me? I questioned why the nice looking man on the bus didn’t say more than Hi or why the handsome guy at the restaurant just stared. Why? Anglie Jolie got married this past weekend and I headed to my kitchen to eat alone. Why? I poured myself a tall glass of wine and headed to my bedroom the loneliest place in my life. I’d obviously left the TV on because I heard talking, laughing and … Jennie McCarthy married her second husband and I hadn’t found number one. Why and what’s wrong with me I thought. I watched me watching porn as the wine started to take effect. There’s no plots or real story lines in porn which is why I liked it. It helps make me feel good without asking a lot of questions. Prostitutes do that too don’t they?
    “Are you going to join me?” I said to myself turning on a jazz CD while momentarily taking my eyes from the action on the screen. I disrobe as I returned to the screen and then turned back to me in the doorway. “Are you ready for me?” I said to myself as I lay on my back. I pulled various adult toys from under me as I mentally cursed all the couples that got married this past weekend. A tear rolled down my cheek when I realized how pathetic it is to give your vibrators names like Bruiser, Bam Bam and Bryce. Tonight it was going to be me, myself and Bryce. I named that love machine Bryce because it was thick, massive and guaranteed to get what I needed done. Remember I’m a person of results. I finished my wine and joined me on my bed. I checked Bryce’s battery pack, he was fully charged and ready to go. I needed lotion to help Bryce help me. I removed my HotColdHot special lube from the nightstand and rubbed it on myself and then on Bryce. I kissed the insides of my elbows because it made my nipples hard and heightened my sexual experience. I caressed my arms, legs and buttocks to get us warmed up. It always worked. When Bryce entered me and I got him to the physical place I needed him to be, I looked at myself in the mirror over my bed and we brought myself to ultra satisfaction. We slept good last night.
    This morning,
    I’m blessed always have been so I smile and speak first to everyone I encounter because “Hello!” never killed anyone.

    • jhowe says:

      A little light erotica on a Wednesday afternoon never hurt anyone I always say. That was very well done. Did you hover over the post button a little before sending? Sometimes I do when I’ve been a little risque or controversial. Risque or not, that was a fabulous story.

      • MCKEVIN says:

        I hover pretty much with pretty much everything I write.Lol. I don’t apologize for being risque, nasty or anything else. However, I don’t want to offend anyone by being true to my art as I know it while trying to respect the rules of the forum. Your opinion and reading means a lot as I try to get better at this.

    • Manwe38 says:

      I agree w/jhowe.

      This was a great read. I really enjoyed it.

    • lionetravail says:

      Enjoyed this lots. Had a bit of issue with the run on sentence intro to each paragraph, but more punctuation should remove that minor distraction. It seems that the ‘goodness’ and selflessness of your MC is probably her stumbling block to a real relationship. I love the complexity, wherein her most compellingly empathetic trait is also her flaw. Nicely done in a short take, to make her that complex. Me likey lots.

    • k.spicer says:

      That was pretty big of Bryce to help her out like that. I was told you could go blind doing that sort of thing! Who turned out the lights? Good read McKevin

      • MCKEVIN says:

        Lol. Yes that was Big of Bryce to help out where he could wasn’t it? Lol. Thanks for reading and just to you know the MC is a male and I haven’t went blind yet. Lol.

    • Mojowritin says:

      Surprisingly light for what could have been a rather bitter and twisted tale. Easy read and very enjoyable. I did have a giggle at her naming her bedtime friends :)

      • MCKEVIN says:

        Mojowritin this was especially light for my characters. This time no one got shot, stabbed or strangled. Glad you enjoyed it. Oh just so you know the MC is a male. His bedtime friends would want you to know just for the record. Lol.

    • Augie says:

      I don’t think there is any type of story you wouldn’t be a master at! (I knew it was a guy) Wow, this is a piece to be studied. Thanks MC!

      • MCKEVIN says:

        So you think it should be studied huh? Lol. I’d love to hear your reasons why? Thank you for reading and comments. Your feedback is greatly appreciated.

        • Augie says:

          You are a funny guy!

          • MCKEVIN says:

            I read Mojowritin comments again and came up with “The Other Side Of Hello!” as a title for this or a future piece that involves murder.The killer only says Hello to his/her victims and then follows them and kills them. Afterwards, he/she comes home and pleasures him/herself. Whaddaya think? Lol. I don’t know the back or front story of this person but Mojowritin got me to thinking where else I could run with this. Lol. Sick isn’t it? Lol. Why can’t people get pass Hello to develop intimate relationships? I’ll have to ponder this. Thanks for listening and being my sounding board today. Lol.

    • Observer Tim says:

      This gave me shivers on a number of levels, McKevin. It’s a great look into the mind of the lonely.

      • MCKEVIN says:

        Now why are you shivering? Lol. This piece is not meant to make you uncomfortable but to show how people go out of their way to connect with others. Sometimes, people want a deeper connection with others but don’t know how to move “Hello” to the next level. Thanks for reading and commenting.

        • Observer Tim says:

          I have shivers because your story nails at least a portion of my life. The details and actions are totally different, of course, but the attitude is way too close for comfort. I am continually tempted to be negative and totally determined to be positive. It helps create the mental turbulence that my writing ideas bubble to the surface of.

  44. cosivantutte says:

    I couldn’t help it. :D

    Robert Downey Jr. leaned his head back and closed his eyes. It had been one of those days. He got up at four thirty in the stinkin’ morning and was repeatedly drenched by fake rain until three in the afternoon. His stuntman had managed to break all of his ribs in a freak bungee-jumping accident. So, Robert had to do all of his own stunts. Then, he had to do that press conference thing to apologize for burning down that Callista’s Fated R Donuts shop. “As if it were my fault.”

    To be honest, he had dim memories of what actually went down in that donut shop. He only knew two things for certain: It was Edwin’s fault and Edwin had escaped. But Robert didn’t mention that during the press conference. Nor did he mention that he was a dragon at the time. He stuck to the script and put out an award winning performance.

    “If I ever get my hands on that ugly, backstabbing squid…” He opened his eyes. What would I do if I got my hands on him? I’d love to kill him, but that would mean another press conference of “Oh, I’m so bad and so sad and soooo sorry.” Gag me with cutlery. “I’d also go to jail. So, my revenge will have to be something creative. Something, I don’t know, subtle.”

    The limo driver stopped the car and opened Robert’s car door in two seconds flat.

    Robert got out of the car and glared at the other man. “You were two seconds too slow.”

    The driver bowed. “I’m sorry, Mr. Downey sir.”

    “Sorry? Psh! I’m a very busy man. You gotta move faster than that.”

    “Yes, Mr. Downey sir.”

    He snapped his fingers in the man’s face. “Snap. Snap. Snap. You gotta be that fast. Got it?”

    “Yes, Mr. Downey sir. I will try to be faster, Mr. Downey sir.”

    Robert grinned. Oh, how I love breaking in the newbies. He strolled to his front door, daydreaming happy thoughts about watching that tv show about poor pregnant drama queens. He went inside, humming its theme song, “I Think We’re Alone Now”.

    As he approached his den, he stopped humming. His tv was already on and it was blaring Kim Kardashian’s blah voice. “Kardashian Super Powers Unite!”

    He slid the oak door open. Sure enough, the animated Kardashian sisters were on tv, battling a giant computer mouse. And a man sat in Robert’s black leather chair with his big, bare feet propped on the leather and glass table.

    Robert cleared his throat. “You know, it’s a funny thing. People out in this town allow almost any kind of wacked out behavior. But trespassing…Mm. Nuh-uh. Trespassing is still considered a big faux pas.”

    The man rose from his seat and turned to face him.

    A bad feeling of déjà vu came over Robert.

    The man looked just like him. “This is my home.”

    Robert curled his hands into fists.

    “I am Robert Downey Jr. and you are a Robert Downey Jr. impersonator.”

    Robert wanted to punch him, but there was something unholy about punching one’s own face. “So, what’s the gig? What’s the thing? Are you my doppleganger? Long lost twin? A clone? What?”

    “Clone?” Fake Robert looked back at the tv. Animated Khloe Kardashian was whining at a giraffe about nail polish remover. “No, Mr. Downey sir. I am not your clone.”

    Oh, dang blast it all! “Edwin.”

    “Edwin… I know that name. Ed…win.” The man grinned at Robert. “Edwin wins and you lose. You will always lose to him.”

    “All righty. I don’t get you at all. Are you Edwin gone psychotic or are you one of his minions come to ruin my life?”

    “Who am I? Ed…win? Ro…bert?” He examined his hands as if discovering them for the first time. He giggled. “I look like you. Just like you, Robert Downey Jr. But I am not you. Am I? Yes? Yes. No? No. No, no, no. I am. I…am…”

    “Tell you what. You stay here and I’ll call 911.”

    Edwin’s eyes widened in horror. “That gypsy. She warned me about using magic without pure intentions.” He clapped his hands to the sides of his head. “My intentions were pure. I swear they were oh so pure!”

    “Yeah. I’m calling 911.” He pulled out his cell phone.

    “Ohhh, my head. It hurts. It hurts like the devil eating mad soup. My mind…my mind…”

    Robert’s thumb hovered above the 9. Well. This is a nice quandary of ethics. I can call 911. They come, take him away, lock him up, he’s out of my life. But he looks just like me. I could help him. Robert grinned. And he could definitely help me. He put his phone away. “So, your impure intentions broke your brain, right?”

    Edwin covered his face and moaned.

    “Right. Gypsy curse and all that. What if you make amends?”

    Edwin uncovered his face.

    “You do know what making amends means , right? It means you go out there and prove to the world that you are oh so sobbing sorry for your wrongdoing. It ain’t fun. I know. I’ve had to do it my fair share of times. But maybe it will appease the vengeful gypsy magic god and get you back to normal.”

    Edwin sank down to the leather chair. “What do I do?”

    “Oh, here’s the pretty part. You can make amends by helping me.”

    Edwin winced, but he didn’t argue.

    “See? My stunt guy got himself half-killed, which leaves me as my own stuntman, which could in theory get me half-killed. Now, neither of us would want that to happen, right?”

    “Right.” He sounded so insincere it made Robert pity him. Some people just don’t have any acting ability.

    “So, this is where we stand. I need a stunt guy. You need to redeem yourself. It’s a match made in either heaven or hell. I don’t know which.”

    “Hell. But I’ll do it.”

    Robert smirked. “That’s a good minion.”

  45. rainiemills says:

    Finally home. My phone beeps, another cryptic text, “I have big news.” Why can’t he just tell me straightaway what it is. I’m too exhausted for this, it will have to wait, after all my traveling this week all I want is my own bed. My bags crumpled in a heap as I fumble for the key. Click. The hair on my arms rose, a tingle ran down my spine as the sound of a hot pockets commercial echoed down the hall. What the? I must have left the television on in my hurry to rush out of here on Monday. I tell myself that, but the pit of my stomach doing flips and my hesitation tells me I’m a chickenshit. God, I am always so overdramatic. I hug the wall as I peek into the living room, pulse pounding. Nobody there. A giggle escaped as I realized how ridiculous I must look.

    Entering the room stopped the giggling real quick. She sat there staring at the screen, I mean me, I sat there, I mean…what the hell was I seeing. Her head started to swivel towards me. I ran. I know it might be superstitious, but I’ve read stories and they all say you can’t be in the same space and time as your double. And I know what I saw. That was me sitting there watching television.

    Stop. Listen. Nothing. Whew, she didn’t see me. I slip my shoes off and tip-toe across the hall. The phone rings. I freeze, footsteps. I duck under the cover of the kitchen table. “Hello” .. that’s my voice. “Of course, dinner will be ready when you get here. Table for two. Got it. Bye Now.” Its only then that I notice the smell of a home cooked meal surrounding me. Candlelight reflections bounce around the kitchen. What the hell is going on here? I wait for her to leave and wait an extra five minutes to be sure. I slither to the stairs. What is wrong with me. I’ve seen scary movies, the stupid girls always go upstairs instead of leaving and they always get killed. I survey my options, the unobstructed backdoor wins. I listen intently for movement as I slink my way towards the door. I’m gonna make it. I’m gonna live. The door clicks softly behind me. My heart pounds steadily. I race around the house colliding into George. “Hi honey?” he says as we tumble to the ground.

    “We gotta leave George, there’s something wrong. There’s someone in the house who looks like me and sounds like me, but obviously is not me because I am right here.” He just laughs. Am I going mad? Why is he laughing.

    “Sara, it’s okay. That was the big news I had to tell you, I have successfully created a clone.”

    • I honestly don’t know how I feel about this one. You built a good thrill with the suspense, but then the climax seems to make it disappear. Was it the word count that forced you to wrangle the ending in like that or was that the original ending you had in mind?

      Either way, you have a strong voice for the character, who seems like she might be a singer because a lot of what she says reminds me of staccato.

      Look forward to reading more from you in the future. Good job!

      • rainiemills says:

        Word count got me.. I felt like the ending fell flat too. The dreaded ending always is hard for me. I would have went way off the deep end with the MC if I had more word space. Thanks for the comment.

    • Augie says:

      Man! He must be a very lucky guy to choose his wife to clone. I was hoping that a clone of George would enter the house as she explained to him. Great suspense.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Really enjoyed this rainiemills. I loved the staccato voice. Not only does it build tension but gets more story in fewer words. When you hit the brick wall of word count, we’re no writing in Sing Sing. Go over a little. Try to stay in the 500′s, nobody gonna squeal on you. Great job.

      • rainiemills says:

        Glad you enjoyed it.

    • MCKEVIN says:

      I liked this a lot and it held my interest from start to finish. Good job!

    • k.spicer says:

      I liked it but I have to say this, if my wife unexpectedly ran into me hard enough to knock both of us down the last thing I would be saying as we tumbled to the ground is “Hi honey.” I can think of a few other things but “Hi honey” isn’t one of them! Thanks for sharing, keep up the good work! Oh yea, the word count is there for people like me who tend to write an entire page of description on what a sun flower looks like. As long as you keep your writing tight people don’t mind reading a few extra words…in other words; don’t count your words, make your words count.

    • Observer Tim says:

      This is a tense take on the prompt, Rainiemills. I like the MC’s confusion. The only bit for me that broke the tension was that very last clause, which seems a bit stilted and formal. Maybe something like “my project succeeded! I made a clone!” I’ll spot you the extra word…

  46. Augie says:

    Laura, a young single mother returns home after a long day at the factory. She can’t afford a baby sitter and worries about her son.

    Jack, her nine-year-old son rocks back and forth on the couch watching a rock group perform on TV.

    You’ll take my life but I’ll take yours too…
    You’ll fire your musket but I’ll run you through…
    So when you’re waiting for the next attack…
    You’d better stand there’s no turning back…

    ‘click’

    “Jack, you are too young to listen to evil music!”

    Jack faces his mother with hollow eyes dark as coal. “Shut up bitch!”

    Laura backs up in fear. The devilish child smiles, “You might want to get that mother.”

    The doorbell rings…

    A very angry Mr. Hampton is holding her son Jack by the wrist. “Ms Laura! I demand you keep an eye on this brat! He was throwing rocks at my windows.”

    Her jaw drops seeing Jack covered in mud.

    She races back to the living room, nothing.

    Mr. Hampton enters, “Laura, are you all right?”

    She shakes her head, “Yes, I had a long day. Jack, go up stairs and take a shower! I’m sorry Mr. Hampton, he hasn’t been the same since his father died.”

    Her instincts tell her to ‘run’ as she watches Mr. Hampton walk away.

    ‘click’

    The bugle sounds as the charge begins…..
    But on this battlefield no one wins….

    Laura rushes to the living room, “Jack! I told you no more music!”

    ‘click’

    Jack looks at his mother, “Mom, I just turned it on! I didn’t know it was on that channel.” The boy’s face turns white, “You can see him? Dad finally did.”

    Laura shakes, “Is who here?”

    Jack shouts, “ Johnny! He told me how you dropped him, I know it was an accident mom.”

    Laura breaks out in tears stumbling to her bedroom. Raising Jack has been difficult after his father died in a chain saw accident in the woods.

    First it was the neighborhood pets, no one could prove that Jack did it. But she knew.

    Once children from the neighborhood started disappearing, she sent Jack to her aunt’s house in California. Oddly, she was relieved that more children became missing while Jack was away.

    But now, he has crossed the line! There is only one way he could know about his dead twin brother.

    Frantically she searches the closet, nothing.. “Where is it?”

    We get so near yet so far away…..
    We won’t live to fight another day….

    She rushes down stairs. Jack and his evil twin brother sit on the couch rocking to the music.

    Jack smiles at her, “Looking for this mother?” He holds up an obituary from the newspaper. “Dad kept it in his pocket thinking Johnny isn’t real.”

    Johnny smiles, “I don’t think we will be needing you anymore mother.”
    ……………

    911, What’s the emergency?

    The young boy cries, “My mommy fell down the stairs, please hurry, she’s not breathing.”

    ‘Click’

    And as I lay forgotten and alone…
    Without a tear I draw my parting groan…

    • Manwe38 says:

      Nice building of tension here.

      The poem at the end was a cool way finish.

      Enjoyed it!

      • Augie says:

        Thanks, I cant take credit for the song, its ‘Trooper’ from Iron Maiden. I thought it is the perfect song to weave into the story.

        • Kerry Charlton says:

          Really chilling story Augie. Little monsters scare me more than full sixe ones. Know why? The smaller the body, the larger the evil. I liked the story built ariund the dead twin, and the lyrics added just the right touch to the evil.

          • Augie says:

            Thanks Kerry. I always notice typos after I post! When Laura ask, “Is who here?” Ohh well,, I sure there are more errors. I normally don’t write creepy stuff, but am tired of racking my head coming up with a Tony and Mo story for this! Thanks again!

        • Manwe38 says:

          Still a great fit, and I really enjoyed it. The microtension you built was superb, and that’s not an easy thing to accomplish.

    • MCKEVIN says:

      Seeds of Chucky comes to my mind with this one Augie. I like your ending but if it were my story the mother would have killed both her son and the evil clone because she couldn’t tell the difference between the two. Jus’ me. Good job and good sick twist.

    • Reaper says:

      Augie, I will keep this simple and be sure you understand exactly how I mean this and what it means to me to say it. You gave me chills in a way normally reserved for the likes of King, Bradbury, and Poe.

      • Augie says:

        Still on a phone. Thanks all for the comment. Reaper, wow thanks.

      • Augie says:

        My daughter showed me how to use my phone as a ‘hot spot’ for my lap top! I’m sure many of you understand how that feels! Thanks Reaper! Wow, what a statement you made! By the way, I absolutely loved your 3 piggy story and am sorry that the prompt shifted so quickly before every one could read it! Have a great weekend, Go Hawks!

    • Critique says:

      The poetry wove a chilling ribbon of evil from start to finish. A goosebumps story!

    • snuzcook says:

      ‘Creepy’ done to a turn, Augie! The best of all those things that make the hair stand on end–especially for mothers! Who among us has not fleetingly fantasized that one day those precious eyes might turn a malevolent gaze in our direction? And ditto the comments about the verse adding to the atmosphere of something gone wrong.
      Well done!

    • Observer Tim says:

      I love the way you leave it open to speculation whether Johnny is a separate being or a psychosis (though I’m leaning toward the latter). The chilling take is very well crafted.

      • Augie says:

        damn you are clever Tim! I didn’t want to spoil it for the crowd, you nailed it! Glad to see you back, hope the move was smooth.

        • Observer Tim says:

          Thanks, Augie.

          The move went smoothly, as such things go. I and my roomies still live in the company of cardboard, but at least we can sleep, eat, and communicate now.

          Bivo established and ready to start processing sitreps.

          • Augie says:

            damn! You know the language! Awesome! hey, side note. Have yo ever seen ‘The devils brigade’? Incredible movie where Americans and Canadians form the worlds first Special Forces in WWII. I watch it once a year.

          • Observer Tim says:

            Of course I know the language; I grew up surrounded by it. As well, I was a civvie on base for 18 months in the early days of my work life, and before that worked in the Museum of the Regiments (PPCLI & LdSH). My father’s last major act before retirement was to turn down the job of RSM of Force Mobile Command (the Canadian Army).

            I haven’t seen that movie in years, but I remember it was a good one. Stan Waters (an original member of the Brigade) was the first Senator nominated by a popular vote in Canada.

  47. jhowe says:

    Wile E. Coyote once again blew himself up while trying to outsmart the roadrunner and despite seeing this scenario many times, Greely Marshall laughed out loud. Thank God for Netflix; you couldn’t find shows like this on regular TV any more.

    Fully recovered from the blast, the coyote was busy painting a tunnel onto the side of a cliff when Greely heard Mindy barking from the back yard. Oh yeah, he forgot about her. Hitting the pause button, which failed to work, Greely went to the door and Mindy hesitated mid bark with a look of confusion on her cute little cockapoo face. “Well, are you coming in or not?”

    When Mindy was upset, she mewed like a kitten which Greely found to be embarrassing. As the mewing commenced Mindy alternated glances between where Greely stood and the bushes near the door. “Oh, you little baby,” he said as he bent to pick her up and saw movement and then a man bolted from the cover of the shrubs.

    “Hey, hold up!” Greely shouted and took up the chase. Greely ran almost every day and competed in 5K races several times a year so he was certain he could catch this guy. What he would do when he caught him was still on his mind when he noticed he could not gain on the guy no matter how fast he ran.

    The guy sprinted down Sycamore Street and ran through the gate of Mount Everrest Cemetery and stopped in front of a small grave marker. Greely stopped beside him breathing heavily. “What the hell are you doing?” Greely said.

    “Getting your attention,” the guy said, also breathing heavily.

    It was then that Greely saw the guys face, or rather his own face staring back. Finding his voice Greely said, “Who are you?”

    “I think you know.”

    “I know who you look like, but what… what’s going on?”

    The guy looked down and Greely followed suit and saw the grave marker. And then he saw the marker beside it. “Is that…?” Greely couldn’t finish. A vision of broken glass and wet pavement flashed in his mind.

    The guy stared but said nothing. “Tell me goddamit, is that Danielle?”

    “It’s time Greely,” the guy said.

    “This is bullshit,” Greely said, his eyes darting. “You’re lying.” The guy said nothing. Greely grabbed the guy’s shirt, his own shirt he noticed and hesitated. “But what about Mindy?” Greely was sobbing now. “If it’s time, why does she see me?”

    “Mindy is a remarkable dog, but she senses your essence, she doesn’t see you in the traditional sense.”
    Greely stopped sobbing and recalled that he had no recollection of his recent life other than Mindy and Netflix cartoons. Everything else was a blank. And then he remembered Mrs. Franklin from next door coming in and feeding Mindy and giving her fresh water while he sat on the chair watching TV, in wonder that she hadn’t acknowledged him when she walked past to let the dog out.

    The guy held out his hand and Greely took it, took his own hand into his and suddenly remembered everything as his surroundings began to fade. His eyes filled with tears and he walked toward the setting sun, alone now. “I’m sorry Danielle.” He walked faster. “I’m so, so sorry.”

  48. Observer Tim says:

    Edward looked down at the parcel illuminated by the jaundiced yellow porch light. He looked at sign next to the door, “All deliveries to the rear,” and cursed the stupidity of couriers everywhere. It was already dark and he hoped whatever idiotic piece of kitsch that Nancy had ordered wasn’t fragile.

    He unlocked the door and picked up the parcel. When he got it inside he made out his name on the package. Guess the Shopping bloody Channel knew who was paying the bills.

    “Well, if it’s got my name on it I might as well open it.”

    He tore the paper off the package and looked at the box. It was about six inches square by a foot long and a couple of pounds weight. It was covered in splashes of bright colour and bore a huge label reading “Spatio-Temporal Anomaly”.

    Nancy,” he bellowed, “What’s a Spatula Tempura Agronomy?

    There was no answer other than the noise of the TV. Damn wife spent all day watching the boob tube rather than making him supper. Figures. He stomped into the den, ready to shout at closer range.

    And stopped.

    There, in his favourite TV watching chair, was another man.

    “Nancy you blasted two-timer! First I’m gonna take this guy out, then it’s your turn.”

    Edward stomped toward the man with a growl; the intruder turned and looked back at him. The guy looked just like him; could have been his twin. But that didn’t matter. A fist hardened by use on Nancy and anybody else who pissed him off landed on the intruder’s jaw.

    There was a flash of light; when it cleared the intruder and the parcel were gone. Edward blinked a few times, then noticed the sports bloopers were coming on. He sat down in his chair.

    Edward had just watched an idiot jump his motorcycle into an open septic pit when he heard a noise behind him. He turned to see a big guy coming at him with a box under one arm and a raised fist. The guy looked familiar…

    ■ ■ ■

    Nancy came up from the laundry room and looked around. The TV was playing those stupid sports bloopers that Edward loved for some reason, but nobody was there. In the front hallway was the wrapping from the parcel she’d left by the front door. Edward’s keys were still in the lock; she pulled them out and pushed the door shut.

    “Well,” she said to no-one in particular, “it worked as promised. Seven thousand dollars is a lot of money, but it’s cheaper than a divorce.”

  49. Kerry Charlton says:

    A TIME FOR WAR

    PART SEVEN

    FINALITY

    ‘How will I have the courage,’ Dee thought, ‘to face the finality of death?’ She watched as her best friend Nancy, held the hand of her new love,Tom. One a spirit beyond death, the other, a man who’s passion for a woman was so powerful, it transcended reality, death, time and things of Dee’s world.

    And the thought that both had risked all that they are, all that they had been and all that they might become to save her, had made her weep. Not ony for herself but for the entire world immersed in a battle so horrible, unthinkable with horror, death and the maiming of young men and women who voulenteered to fight for freedom from tyranny, insanity and greed.

    Her spell broke as Tom gathered her along with Nancy, holding both girls tight against the dark, sea breeze as they waited.

    ‘The anticipation is always the worst part,’ Tom thought. ‘Both Dee and Nancy are half my age, yet I feel as if I have known them a lifetime. I will protect them, I don’t care what history says, I’ll be damned if I’ll let them die.’

    ‘I know in my heart I’m going to lose both of them,’ Nancy wondered. ‘What kind of insaniy brought us together to face this impending nightmare? Why the replay of my own death and the horror facing Dee and God only knows what will become of Tom. All this because I thought I might save Dee.’

    4:19 AM

    The explosion on the port side of the Centaur, caused the ship to shudder. The torpedo had hit the ship dead center Ten seconds later the main oil tank exploded, shooting a shock wave of burning fuel through the ship causing the collapse of the bridge super structure.

    The rsdio operator’s body had been torn apart into pieces of burning body parts. The funnel crashed on deck, spewing a wave of burning oil across the ship.The Centaur’s bow lowered itself toward the sea as the stern lifted off he water causing enormous pressre on the ship’s keel.

    Tom and the girls had been blown across the ship to the starboard rail. They clung to it as that side of the Centaur began to tear itself into two pieces.

    “Are you both okay?” Tom asked.

    “I am, Nancy answered.”

    Both looked at Dee as she slumped to the deck. She bled profusely from her left thigh as a piece of boiler plate had cut to the bone. Tom removed his belt, making a quick tourniquet to stop the bleeding. The stern of the Centaur continued to rise above the sea.

    “Jump Nancy, right now,” Tom shouted.

    Water lay forty feet below the starboard side as the railing continued to rise. He waited long enough to see that Nancy was safely in the sea, advoiding a pool of burning oil pouring from the ship. Tom took one last look. The entire ship had burst into flames as he lifted Dee in his arms. He held he tightly and jumped into the ocean.

    The Centaur groaned a death rattle as Tom led Nancy while still holding Dee with one arm and swimming with the other, they cleared the ship’s suction as the Cetaur broke in half and slipped to a watery grave Total time lapse from the explosion until the ship fell beneath the ocean, less then three minutes.

    Tom swam toward a section of the wheel house, occupied by a dozen or more survivors. Dee remained unconscious as they reached the wreckage and were lifted aboard. Fifteen were clinging and crawling on the shattered wheel house wall with the sea lapping at the edges protrudng from the ocean

    The sea grew quiet, having served as a grave for the Centaur and 274 of the 338 medical personnel and crew. Nancy worked feverishley tryig to stop the flow of blood from Dee’s wound. Her eyes met Tom’s as he shook his head in denial of the trauma.

    • jhowe says:

      This is quite a story you have going here Kerry. I’m enjoying it.

    • MCKEVIN says:

      Okay now I want to dance on a ship in the middle of an ocean of nowhere in particular with no one other than my significant other or two. If you are not published you should be Kerry. Good job.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Thank you McKevin. You are so sharp, you’ve picked out where this story is heading. Your words…….”with no one other than my significant other or two.”

    • Ah, the finale! I loved the descriptions of the ship exploding. I almost hope there’s more after this, this whole series was excellent. I repeat what McKevin said– you really should be published.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Thank you Bilbo for your wonderful thoughts and comments. Don’t quit reading until the fat lady sings. It ain’t over yet by a long shot. I have been fortunate enough to have five stories and two essays published. Still waiting for checks, however. Those were all freebies.

    • Reaper says:

      Keep going Kerry. You did paint yourself into a corner but you got out of it masterfully and yet I still don’t have the answer to those questions. Not sure I ever will but it doesn’t matter because the read continues to be amazing.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Thank you Reaper for your kind thoughts. I do remember your conversation about this story. McKevin picked up a future key where it’s heading. By the time this is over, your questions will be answered. Maybe.

    • Kerry Charlton says:

      I want to thank all of you for reading and commenting. Just so you know, I not anywhere near the end of this story, not be a long shot so get ready for part eight next week. Now I’m going to go dark on this prompt. If I stumble, so what? I won’t be executed, will I? After posting my story I’ll get back to posting responses to all of you.

      My best, KBC. The ‘B’s for Brian. Do you think I might be just a little Irish?

    • Critique says:

      Your creative writing paints vivid images Kerry. This has been a very satisfying read!

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Thank you Critique. Stay with us. Later on the plot’s going to take a different twist. I have no idea what. Each chapter builds on the next and I’m beginning to work on next week’s. One at a time.

    • Observer Tim says:

      This story keeps getting deeper and better, Kerry. You’ve captured the feel of life in WWII conditions so well it takes me back there, and the story is engaging and heartfelt. I continually find myself anticipating the next chapter. If it were a movie, I would expect it to be in black and white, with Tom being played by Bogart.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Bogart would be perfect for Tom. I visualized Veronica Lake playing Nancy’s part and Gene Tierney as Dee. It would be black and white, set is Australia. I’ll write the script, you direct it. Don’t mess with Veronica, you can have Gene. Or maybe the other way around. just don’t steal both away, or I’d write you in as shark meat in the next chapter. Thanks for reading as always.

  50. Mojowritin says:

    The jaunty angle of the ‘out of order’ elevator sign mocked my aching head and feet. Sales week is always a nightmare. All I wanted was to grab ice cream and collapse in front of mind-numbing TV. Opening the door to my apartment, I could hear canned laughter. I must have left the tv on. I kicked off my shoes and headed for the lounge.

    What followed is one of those moments you only read about. I froze, time flowing in slow motion, as the person seated on my sofa, cradling my pot of ice cream, turned to smile at me.
    “Hi, Jane.”
    My grocery bag slipped through lifeless fingers, but the crunch when it hit the floor brought everything back into focus and I stammered out my name.
    “Jane?”
    This person could not be me, and yet, as she rose, setting the ice cream on a side table, she was my twin. She smiled, broader now, and there was something malicious in those flashing teeth and drawn tight lips. Some primal sense finally kicked in and I tensed.

    “It’s taken ten years to find you.”
    “Who are you?”
    I managed the words, but my mind was on her hand,buried in the pocket of her slacks. To me it looked balled, wrapped around something. My mind was racing, trying to decide what to do next; run or fight?
    “I’m you, Jane… at least, I will be, soon.”

    She was advancing now, her hand snapping clear of her pocket and brandishing an evil-looking flick knife. I put my hands up, foolishly, attempting to ward her off, and she slashed quickly. I snatched my hands back, felt blood trickle slowly from my palm.
    “What do you want?”
    I was reversing slowly up the hall, but she seemed confident of her position, her control of the situation, unconcerned that I might bolt for the door.
    “You, Jane. That should be obvious.”

    I jinked left, into the kitchen, aiming for the knife block. She paused in the doorway, idly tossing the knife up and down.
    “Ever heard of a doppelganger, Jane?”
    I shook my head, finally getting a grip on a meat cleaver.
    “I’m you, you see, and that causes a bit of a problem. We can’t both exist. When a doppelganger appears, someone has to die. We’re bad luck, you see.”
    She laughed and lunged.

    At that moment, Tuffet, my cat woke from her preferred spot on top of the kitchen door, and flung herself onto the doppelganger’s shoulders, her customary greeting when she wanted food. The imposter staggered, toppled and fell onto me. Horrified, I watched her fall onto the cleaver I held before me for protection.
    As fast as it had happened, it was over. She simply faded into nothing, a soft shimmer in the air and then gone, leaving me curled against the wall, clutching a useless weapon and praying there was only one doppelganger per lifetime.

  51. Reaper says:

    Echo CoLocation

    It started on Friday.

    My job isn’t difficult but it’s stressful. The boss had been pushing us to “do more with less”. Which is code for work tons of overtime but don’t expect a raise for fifteen years. So after a seventy hour minimum wage week I was wiped.

    Stepping in I heard the television. I guessed I left it on after checking the traffic that morning. Might as well start the weekend with some mindless me time. I zombied into front room and about wet myself. I saw some thief sitting and watching my TV.

    Things just got worse when I realized it was me, remote in hand, staring blankly at the screen. I knew I must be losing it when I cleared my throat and said hello. I just continued to sit there, frozen.

    Having never hallucinated before I decided the best cure was a cup of coffee with a slug of whiskey. I stepped into the kitchen there I was again, pouring myself a mug. Not only was this me frozen but so was the stream of brown nectar sliding into the cup. Right down to that one splash that always jumps and scalds my left wrist, hanging a fraction of an inch from my flesh.

    Knowing I was completely mad I decided to sleep it off. In the bed I caught myself napping. Next to me, in the spot my girlfriend occupies when she stays over was another me. I did not look sexy in her lingerie.

    I went to get a neighbor. Just to see if they saw it too. Where Mrs. Roberts was stepping out with that yappy mutt of hers was another me, midstride with a bonnet on my head and plastic bag in hand.

    Now convinced I was nuts I walked to the store. You can guess what I saw. Cars not moving, me behind the wheel, cashiers and customers all with my face frozen in one interminable moment, I know you know because you, like everyone else, are me which means you’re brighter than average.

    I tried finding someone other than me all weekend. I even swung by my therapist’s office. While I was waiting to see me, and I was manning the phones the me who shrinks heads had stepped out to lunch. I slept in the empty office.

    I spent the rest of the weekend wandering, trying to get me to respond. I never did. Eventually I got tired of looking at my face. Those haunted eyes staring back at me started to spook me. I guess that’s why I took drastic measures.

    Monday morning when it was just me at work, all of me staring blankly at me I sat down at my desk. Driven by an unexplainable urge I dug both middle fingers into my eyes. The pain was intense as I felt a double liquid pop and felt something warm and squishy sliding down my cheeks.

    Then all of me started to talk.

    • Manwe38 says:

      This is decidedly disturbing, Reaper, but I liked it. Did not see the ending coming.

      You’ve started my day off with the creeps…and I’m curious to know what all those clones said.

    • Mojowritin says:

      Did all the other clones do the same thing, because they were you? Certainly left a lot open to interpretation. Very interesting.

    • jhowe says:

      You built the tension well as more and more me’s started appearing and became overwhelming in the end. It would be hard to pluralize ‘me’ but you managed to avoid the need with some clever sentence forming. Great story.

      • Reaper says:

        I am glad you said that because I was worried about it. I felt that with the word limit I did not properly build to such a drastic action and was hoping the mind would supply more. Thank you for both of the last, that made me smile.

    • MCKEVIN says:

      This is my favorite piece by you so far. It’s dark. Its’ sick. Its strange. Its full of gore. its sick and I love this kinda stuff. It held my attention from start to finish. Good job! No Outstanding Job!

      • Reaper says:

        Thank you McKevin. Oddly, despite being known for the darker stuff on here I normally keep it tame because I don’t know the age of people reading on this. I’m not a huge one for descriptive gore because I feel it desensitizes your reader to what is happening and leaving more to the imagination is creepier for me. So this is a bit more than my normal gore level and at the same time closer to the mental darkness I strive for in my other writing.

    • snovy121 says:

      I like it. This would have been a great Twilight Zone storyline.

    • Well, a shiver up the vertebrae to start the day is great! Like the part about the scalding coffee too, was a nice touch.

      • Reaper says:

        Thank you Mr. Baggins. I almost cut that in an edit to bring the word count down. However I felt it was one of those little human touches that makes a character and hopefully story more real so you honor me by mentioning it.

    • Critique says:

      This has to be one of the darkest stories I’ve read on this site for a while. You did a superb job creating all the clones and the ending was simply chilling. Well done.

    • snuzcook says:

      You built and maintained a really nightmarish world–one where there were no dark forbidding shadows or demons or haunting sounds, just normalcy turned silently, redundantly insane. The eye popping was jolting, but when I came down from my cringe to read the final line, I was able to accept it as part of the process.
      Love that I found myself trying to hear what ‘all of me’ started to say!
      High marks, Reaper!

      • Reaper says:

        Snuzcook you have this poetic way with words even in your comments that always makes me feel so honored to receive one. It is like being blessed by a giant. Your first sentence rings so perfectly for me and I am glad you said it. I was iffy on the eye popping but got the old legend of the blind seers who tore their eyes and things got worse in my head when I wrote this. I almost toned it down but wanted that impact of this is gross but the next line was the thing that was really bad. Thank you for seeing the process. Thank you for this.

    • Observer Tim says:

      Strange meets gruesome; great job, Reaper. You painted a very creepy nightmare world. It’s interesting that the milieu is so intent on torturing him that it even reacts to his removing the sensory input needed for the first horror.

      I think what the “others” are saying would most certainly be just as creepy as the echo images, if not moreso. And what happens when he’s deaf? The senses get more intimate as the tale goes on…

      • Reaper says:

        Thank you Tim! I agree that the speech would probably be bad, probably some whispers about everything he has ever done that makes him doubt and feel bad about himself. Funny thing? I actually wondered what would happen when he burst his ear drums and just thought, they’ll find a way.

    • Augie says:

      You made it easy for me to be “the one you’ in this story. I loved the bits of humor tangled in with the horror. While I think I can name a few folks that would rejoice that the world finally got it right, it would only be a matter of time that they realize there is no one left to ‘hate’ on then it would probably end the same. Great story Reaper..

      • Reaper says:

        Thank you Augie, for everything. I am glad you saw the bits of humor. I think you’re right but also that before long with only themselves around those people would be forced to face that most often when we hate other people it is because we see in them the things we dislike in ourselves. So it wouldn’t be better to be stuck alone. Thank you again Augie.

  52. sjmca1966 says:

    Massive plaudits for going first CC.
    So true to prompt. Well written and engaging with great voice, always a pleasure to read your stuff.

  53. sjmca1966 says:

    The Hit –

    Being a hitman-for-hire isn’t as glamorous as Hollywood portrays.

    Don’t get me wrong, my job kills. The adrenalin rush I get when a scumbag has been purged from our little planet, makes it all worthwhile.

    Yeah, I’m one of those guys, a contract killer with morals. . .

    In my line of business, being security conscious is par-for-the-course, so when I opened my apartment to blue flickering light bouncing off the hallway ceiling and the sound of my favorite movie blaring from the living room, I immediately reached inside my jacket.

    It wasn’t the first time I’d been compromised, but this was the most unexpected. As I edged down the hall, I heard laughing and when the couch came into view, I saw the back of a head I didn’t recognize, “I love this bit!” the head yelled. The confidence and relaxed attitude from the intruder instinctively told me he wasn’t alone and that if I about-faced and exited the apartment I’d be toast, “Come join me,” he said, as he turned. I was not ready to stare at myself when he did.

    “Who. . . what? Put your hands where I can see them!”

    “Okay, settle. I’m the little bonus you were promised from Stem-Pool Inc.”

    My mind raced back ten months, “Put your hands where I can see them,” I repeated.

    “You’re not going to shoot me.”

    “How do you know?”

    “Because your eyes aren’t blinking, we always blink a lot before we take a shot.”

    Only a hand full of living people knew that and they were guys I’d die for, or who would die for me, “Explain yourself!”

    “You complained to Dr Reinigen, that there weren’t enough hours in the day to do all that was required of you and so, here I am.”

    “You’re me?”

    “Yep! It’s not like we needed your hairbrush to get your DNA. You been shot more than all the Presidents combined”

    “You can’t have my memories.”

    “First kiss, Tracey McKinnon, first sexual experience Lucy McKinnon, first kill Larry McKinnon. . . Shall I go on?”

    I may have told a few people about the McKinnon sisters, but I’d told no one about their step-father.

    This doppelganger was the real deal and I didn’t like it, “Do I get a choice in the matter?”

    “Well, we can work together, you don’t have to share your deepest and darkest secrets with me, I already know them.”

    I looked inside myself and started blinking.

  54. W. Jade Young says:

    The man in my house looked like me, but he was older. He looked like I might have looked if I had worked on a farm, or gone into construction like my dad. There were more lines on his face, and more scars on his hands. His upper body was more developed than mine, ropy muscles crawling up his neck, and his head was shaved.

    He was watching the news from my favorite chair, leaning forward with his elbows on his knees like he was having trouble reading the news ticker at the bottom of the screen. Or having trouble believing it.

    When he spoke, it was like listening to myself over a recording. It was almost like my voice, but it sounded scratchy and muffled.

    “Only a year,” he said out loud. He didn’t turn to look at me, but he was talking right to me. “It’s only been a year,” he repeated, raising his voice as though I hadn’t heard him the first time. His tone had adopted the same quality mine did when I was beyond furious. My wife called it my calm-before-the-storm voice. It was the quiet warning before the outburst.

    “I’ve been gone… for a year.” His voice was barely a whisper now, and my blood went cold. He turned his head this time, slowly, and his eyes met mine for the first time. I was immediately struck by how familiar they were, perfectly matched to my own except for the glint of malice tucked away into the corners.

    My throat was dry, but somehow I managed to choke out an answer, “Well, a lot can happen in a year.” I gestured to the news station on the TV, hoping that my comment would help create an emotional bond with him.

    Suddenly, he was on his feet, his face flushed with rage. The muscles in his neck strained as he screamed, and spittle flew from his mouth.

    “A lot can happen in TEN years!!” he shouted, hands turning to fists at his side. I took a quick step back and collided roughly with the wall while he continued to scream at me. “I was in Hell! HELL!! For ten years! And you were HERE! In MY house! With MY wife! Living MY life!”

    In a flash of insight, all the pieces fell together in my head. “D-Disassociative Id-dentity Disorder!” I stammered. It wasn’t elegant, like any of my conversations with my usual patients, but my heart was racing and my mind was pushing facts out of my mouth as quickly as I could think them.

    “We look similar,” I said quickly. “You and m-me–I mean, you and I, we look quite remarkably similar, so it’s perfectly n-natural to disassociate from a traumatic experience by latching onto and attempting to assume the identity of a person you perceive to have a better–”

    “DON’T TALK TO ME LIKE A SHRINK!!” he screamed at me. “I’M the shrink. You! You’re just a DOLL! You’re not real! Just twigs and spare parts and burlap all sewn together and made to LOOK and TALK and THINK like me!”

    I had no answer to this, no carefully crafted response designed to put an unstable person at ease. I just stared, open-mouthed, trembling like a fool.

    His voice was dangerous and low again when he spoke through gritted teeth. “She told me about you,” he said. “Told me that she left you behind so no one would notice. While she peeled my skin off and bolted steel plates to my bones.”

    It was ludicrous, the things he was saying. I had never heard anything so insane. Yet, his madness seemed to be infectious, because as he spoke, I could almost make out lines on his skin where the pieces overlapped. Scars, I told myself, from whatever childhood torture had spawned such a damaged mind.

    “She cracked my ribs one at a time,” he said, walking closer until he was inches away, pinning me against the wall. “She pulled my chest open and filled my insides with molten iron, and as she did, she told me no one would ever know the difference. That you were her perfect copy.”

    For an instance, his eyes burned red hot and then cooled to black while I watched. It had to be just a reflection from the light of the television, but even as I thought it I wasn’t so sure.

    “She begged for her life before I tore her apart,” he said, “limb from limb, just like I’m going to do to you.”

    Before I could react, he had me by the throat with one hand, the other hanging onto my wrist. With a mighty heave, he ripped my arm from its socket.

    At first, I thought I must have been in shock, because there was no pain, but then I realized there was also no blood. For that matter, there was no arm. Not really. What the man held in his hand was a burlap sack full of cotton with a stick protruding from one end.

    In a split second, images came rushing back to me. A woman in a green, satin dress carefully selecting two slender branches ending in five, bent twigs. The same woman, sewing squares of burlap together and murmuring gently to her needle and thread. A lock of hair placed inside my head before it was sewn closed.

    I gasped for air, but found it was useless; I wasn’t breathing at all. I was ticking, the gears in my brain like clockwork. My eyes, now open to the dark magics at work here, saw the man who looked like me for what he was. A titan of steel and iron, with fists like sledgehammers, all that was left of the real man I had replaced.

    “No…” I said, but my voice had changed. It was slow and thick, like a stroke victim’s. One of my eyes fell out of my head, shattering on the floor. The threads holding my burlap muscles together loosened of their own accord and cotton spilled out everywhere. I weakly flexed five twig fingers around the wrist that still held me by the throat, but even as I tried to move my hand, the binding holding my arm to my shoulder gave out and the branch fell to the floor.

    “I didn’t… know…” I tried to tell him as my knowledge of the truth expelled the false life I had been given. “I… didn’t…”

    • Observer Tim says:

      The brooding nature and dark atmosphere of this story brought an image of The Wicker Man to my mind. You did a great job creating the intensity of feeling and emotion, Jade. I love the way the monster’s mind turned slushy as his body was dismembered.

  55. Two-Tone

    “Hello?”

    “Yeah? Who’s there?”

    “Dave, David. This is my house… who’s in my home?”

    “Who do you think is in your home Dave? Guess. Who’s always in your home.”

    “Ummm… I don’t know… I’m usually alone. Who is it?”

    “Dave.”

    I enter the room and see myself sitting at the chair, watching TV in my chair. He stands and offers the seat to me.

    “Sorry, I was just keepin’ it warm for you. It is a really comfortable chair isn’t it?”

    “Yeah. My favorite.”

    “Well, I know it’s your favorite I am you.”

    I sat in the chair.

    “So, uh, I don’t really know how to ask this. How’d you get here?”

    “Drove here from work.”

    “But, I mean, how is there two of me?”

    “Does it matter? It’s not like I’m takin’ your chair or somethin’.”

    I thought for a minute.

    “I guess not.”

    I finally sat in my chair and looked towards the TV. My show was on. Our show was on.

    “So, Dave, how was your day at work?”

    “Good. Well, I mean, except what Mr. James did.”

    “I know right, can’t he ever just mind his own business?”

    I laughed at my own joke.

    “I guess there’s no such thing as a nice boss.”

    “You can say that again.”

    “I guess there’s no such thing as a nice boss.”

    This time he laughed at his own joke.

    “At least we can get home and sit down and watch TV.”

    “Yeah. Plus it’s nice to have someone to talk to.”

    “He’s talking to himself, what should we do?” the man asked gesturing to the man, Dave, living in the artificial world, completely alone.

    “We can’t interfere. If creating “imaginary friends” is his way of coping then we need to record it, not criticize it.”

    “No, seriously, the man responded, “he’s talking to himself.”

  56. Amyithist says:

    I never watch the news. Politics, dead children, and energy crises…who needed all that? So when I heard the drone of an anchor’s voice carrying over the quiet house, my heart immediately picked up in speed. I set my suitcase on the floor and gently clicked the door shut behind me. I wriggled my police-issued Glock from my waistband and stepped into the narrow vestibule, keeping my gun aimed straight ahead. I stepped through the threshold separating the living room from the hallway.

    Cautiously, I moved into the living space, behind my couch. Ahead of me, the TV blared and a pleasant looking female anchor reported the a-typical newscast about the latest trouble in the Gaza Strip. My eyes shifted through the dimly lit room and landed on the back of a woman’s head. Her curly black hair reflected the rays from the TV screen. Based on her position, I could tell she was leaned back; perhaps sound asleep.

    My blood boiled at the audacity. “Hands up where I can see them,” I commanded. She didn’t respond. I grit my teeth as I quietly stepped closer to the sofa. I could smell her perfume wafting up into the still air. It smelled like mine: Ralph Lauren’s Romance. Slightly confused, I moved to the side of the furniture. I aimed the gun toward her, narrowing my eyes as the TV flashed to black. For a split second, the room pulsed with deafening silence.

    As the news flashed back on, I rounded the edge of the couch and came face to face with the intruder. But as our eyes locked, my jaw slacked as I caught sight of…myself? I blinked. Rubbed my eyes. But there I was; sitting on my own sofa, staring ahead, my eyes milky white orbs. My hands started to tremble. “Who are you?” I cried.

    The stranger turned her face to me and smiled. She stood, her feet hovering inches above the floor. “We saw everything,” she hissed.

    I dropped my gun to my side. “Impossible!” I retorted. “Who are you?”

    “I’m you. Well, I’m your soul. The good part. The part you seemed to throw away.”

    I closed my eyes and swallowed the lump forming in my throat. “What did you see?” My voice quivered.

    “Enough to know that you aren’t who you used to be, Sylvia.” My soul rose above me. Fire burned through her body and she pointed a willowy finger in my direction. “Eyes are everywhere, Sylvia. EVERYWHERE!”

    As she lunged at me, I fell back, screaming. Just as I was about to hit the floor, I shot up in the back of the taxi, grunting as the old cab rocked violently through a pothole- infested alleyway. I looked over to Angel, the man I’d paid to help me forget all my troubles. He smiled and rested his hand on my thigh, inching dangerously up the hem of my skirt.

    What am I doing? I thought. I’m risking everything; my career, my family… for what? “Stop the car,” I ordered. My voice sounded heavy and thick. How much did I drink? Enough to make a really stupid choice, I thought back.

    Angel gaped up at me, confused. “Keep the money,” I said, waiving him off. “I’m sorry.” I turned back toward the street and jaunted the half-mile back to my hotel room. I ran upstairs and dialed home. Even though it was nearly two in the morning back in the states, I had to talk to Rick. I grabbed the pill bottle from the nightstand. Tears filled my eyes as I twisted it between my fingers. I thought about how far I’d let my addiction take me. I’d lost everything…

    Rick answered on the third ring. “Honey,” I said, choking back sobs. “I’m ready for that help you offered.”

  57. Sometimes They Escape

    I lumber through the door of my house, barely able to stand on either leg for any length of time. I look down at my legs, and my jeans are shredded and bloody. My shoulder still burns, but the gash stopped bleeding at some point. I lick my tender and cracked lips and wince as the wound on my forehead gives me a sudden and random sting of pain. I’m a mess, but at least I escaped that wretched place.

    I hear the faint sound of two men talking bitterly at each other coming from the living room. One of them sounds familiar, the voice strong and commanding, and the other is a bit more unknown to me, yet somehow it’s also familiar. However, neither of them sound like him, and I am almost positive he is in my house somewhere. I didn’t expect there to be two other men, but after what I’d been through, nothing will stop me.

    I shuffle through the foyer, the smell of stale cigarettes and old beer is strong and disgusting, but not worse than the sulfuric stench of the depraved prison in which I once took involuntary residence. That dark place reminds me of the loose tooth in my mouth, and so I tongue it, suck some of the blood from the root, and spit it onto the floor. Long before I had been where no man should ever go, I would’ve thought that splotch on the ground as nothing more than simply blood and saliva, but now it looks like a winged demon dripping with the lost ignorance of innocence and empowered by humanities most wicked nightmares.

    In the kitchen, the smell is much worse, a mixture of the vices of man and the bite of rotten vegetables and meat. Plates with half-eaten bloody pieces of meat are stacked everywhere, and the bowl of fresh fruits and vegetables I once kept on the pale wooden dinner table is now full with a black and fuzzy pile of death.

    As I pass the fridge, I stop. I continue to stare at the floor, but from the corner of my eye, I see the white paper hanging from the refrigerator door. In my tattered memories, I envision the crayon drawing of three figures holding hands: my wife, my son, and of course me. The sun has a brilliant smile as it hangs dutifully in the corner of the page above a purple house with the word “HOME” written on the door. My young son is the brilliant artist of the family. Was the artist of the family.

    I leave the kitchen as a renewed rage builds inside me, and enter the adjacent room. The television flickers in the corner with bad reception, and the man I previously recognized is actually The Duke talking at people in the original True Grit. In front of the television, sitting on my couch and wearing my clothes, is him.

    I approach the imposter, the dark and wicked clone with the same name as me. He must have heard me, because he stands and turns around. He appears as I do, except without a broken body.

    He says, “How did you get out of there?”

    I don’t want to answer him. I feel that if I don’t, however, then I am certainly acknowledging some kind of superiority he has over me. My dysfunctional rationality bears evidence to my flawed humanity, and I reply in a cold, course voice ruined by cinder and ash.

    “You should’ve known you couldn’t keep me there.”

    “I banished you to Purgatory. You took my place there.” He says as he backs away from me.

    “You took everything from me.” I growl and then cough blood onto the floor.

    “You think you can just come back here?” He tells me with a trembling voice. “You can’t come back. You’re breaking the rules.”

    I cough a dark laugh. “You broke them when you sent me to Hell! When you took my place among humans!”

    He backs against the wall next to the television, leans down, and picks up a food-encrusted knife from a pile of filthy dishes. I lunge at him, wrap my hands around his neck, and squeeze.

    “Stop.” He pleads thinly from his wicked lips, but I do not relent.

    With the steak knife, he stabs me several times in my ribs, and I feel the blade sinking deep and penetrating my lung. I cough hard as I feel the bone in his throat pop and cave. He drops the knife, and it clatters against the oak floor as he begins to choke for air. I tightened my grip. Eventually, his eyes flutter and he falls limp.

    We both drop to the floor, and my breathing becomes shallow and quick. With one lung collapsed and the other barely working, I don’t have much time left. I feel my body tighten with gooseflesh as whorls of darkness burn in and out of my vision, but I am not afraid. I know that my revenge comes with a price, but that fee is not a penalty because I am not going back to that dark place where demons call from the darkness and where soldiers of horror rip flesh from the bones of evil souls. No, I am going to a much better place, hopefully one where I might find my wife and son. One where I might finally find peace.

    • snovy121 says:

      Interesting…my interpretation is that it’s a complicated/multiple “personalitied” character who killed his wife and son and is now killing himself. I enjoyed it. Dark and well-written

    • Cceynowa says:

      This could be expanded on so easily! Are the wife and kid demons too? How are the neighbors dealing with the new lifestyle? Well done.

    • The possibility of someone escaping from purgatory is intriguing, and you explored it well. Another great story from you. Like snovy121, I have a feeling there’s a deeper meaning to this, but I can’t find it yet.

    • MCKEVIN says:

      Very good and very descriptive as always. I like dark and you have never disappointed me with your postings. I tried to figure out the author’s intent when I read these postings. Help me out. Why is Duke there and what is he doing while the demon is killing himself? Jus’ curious because I like your style of writing.

      • It’s only there to help you get a sense of the kind of person the MC is without having to go into long detail about him. His personality, and his interest (and huge familiarity with a voice let alone a co-stars voice) in the Duke’s movies gives the reader an idea that he is a go-getter, that he won’t stand for anyone’s crap. With such a short amount of words to use, i find it easier to use short images instead of going into a deeper background like his childhood when he stood up to a bully or that he was in the military four years when he turned 18. Basically character background injection without too much detail. :)

    • k.spicer says:

      Wow, I’m always amazed at the way you sew these stories together with such detail and precision. Well done Jay.

    • Manwe38 says:

      Ah, another excellent effort from ‘The Doc’.

      Your MC seems pretty certain he’s not going back to that ‘dark place’…I’d love to know if he actually makes it back to the reunion with his family.

      Nicely done.

    • Mojowritin says:

      I’d be interested to know what the demon wanted when he got out of purgatory. Did he have some plan, some purpose, or was he just greedy to live a human life? I’d like to hear his side of the story.

      • Mojo! I wrote a prequel to the story and posted it. I really hope is satiates your desire for more complete story. The prequel isn’t the end-all of where the demon ends up, but if you take a look at both you can kind of get an idea of what he initially decided to do, and how the freedom of humanity weakened and changed his own dark desires into something other. Thanks for reading!

    • jhowe says:

      Gripping tale to say the least. Very vivid descriptions and well written action and dialog. You did well on this one.

    • snuzcook says:

      Great, Jay! Read the prequel first, and then this one. Each is a skilfully crafted story on its own, and the tone of each is a bit different from the other. Lots of depth of story world in both, but especially this one. The prequel is more linear, perhaps ‘cleaner’ and faster paced because the MC has absolutely no question about intent. But this one is for the reader to discover layer by layer what has happened and the why for what is happening, so it almost requires a more engaged read.
      Well done!

    • Observer Tim says:

      This is powerful and atmospheric, Jay; exactly the qualities I’ve come to expect from your stories. I was a little confused as I went, but a little reflection afterwards brought everything into focus. And made me shudder.

  58. snovy121 says:

    Wow, great story and vivid description. The end is hysterical :)

  59. keyhonay says:

    Clone

    “Oh, your home,” said the young man.

    “Yeah, I am,” the older man in the chair replied and reached down to pull a beer out of a sack.

    “You really need to stop drinking,” the younger man said looking at the overweight body in the chair.

    “It’s funny you say that,” The man in the chair said and popped open the beer. It foamed over and he held it over the carpet letting the foam fall on to the floor.The younger man watched this in distain. Then he walked in to the small kitchen and came back with a towel for the floor. He bent down to mop up the beer before it could stain the carpet.

    The older man in the chair said, “It’s failing. Our kidney, it’s failing and I will need to have it replaced soon”

    The young man stopped mopping and sat back on his feet. “It’s failing?”

    “Yup, doc told me last month, I will need to get my other one soon.” The older man said and drank down half the beer.

    “What about the meds and the omega 3 fish pills? I thought it was going to be ok if you stayed on the regiment.”

    “Maybe but the pills made it hard to get it up and I can’t stand the fish burbs.”

    “So you stopped taking them and continued drinking.”

    The older man killed the last of his beer and smiled at the 28 year old version of his self.
    “I can see how this may seem unfair on some levels. But you are a clone, as such your only meaning in life is to keep yourself healthy and keep your parent alive. If I don’t get my kidney I will die and if I die you are automatically culled, you know that,” The older man said and crushed the beer can in his hand before grabbing another one.

    “So if you take our kidney, I will die and you’re going to just kill it with your drinking,” The young man said as he finished mopping up the split beer.

    “Yeah most likely, But hey, I’m 96 now, I have had 3 wives and 5 kids, all that can’t stand me. I got 10 years out of this kidney; I think 10 more years should be enough for a life.” The younger man thought about what it would feel like to have a real life, a life where you could date, eat what you wanted to and live free, but he knew his place. He was a clone and his one purpose was to keep his parent alive.

    “When is the surgery?” the younger asked.

    “In about an hour, So you’re going to need to drive me,” the older man said.

    ” What about my stuff,” The younger man looked around his small apartment and asked?

    “It will be cleaned out and a new clone will be moving in. So are you ready,” The older man asked and pulled his body out of the chair.

    • Cceynowa says:

      Whoa. Excellent take on the prompt. How creepy on a sci-fi level. Love it.

    • Augie says:

      Interesting and clever take on the prompt. I really enjoyed this!

    • This reminds me heavily of that movie called “The Island” where clones are created for the purpose of keeping the rich alive, organs harvested when something fails. I liked that movie, so I like this, I only wish you had more time to go deeper into the feelings of the clone so that you could’ve humanized him more.

      Great story, K.

      • keyhonay says:

        I got the concept from a movie called “The Clonus Horror” 1979. I saw it on the “Mystery Science Theater” back in the day. If I was able to go on with the story I would have put more in to the personal conflicts that the clone would be going through, but at the same time he would be doing exactly what he was made to do, right up to letting them put him under. The real question will be if a clone of me is made will it be 21 grams lighter. :)
        Thank you for your comment.

    • keyhonay says:

      Thank you all, for your comments.

    • MCKEVIN says:

      Very good. I wonder how the clone will treat the new clone considering he wasn’t treated well. But then again, his only job was to keep his parent alive wasn’t it? Good job.

    • k.spicer says:

      Good story Key, this makes you think about a lot of things with the technology that is coming on line today. Well done!

    • Mojowritin says:

      I really hope that clone killed his ‘parent’ and took out running. Or he’d secretly been drinking and the kidney proves to be useless. Cool story.

    • Pete says:

      Wow, enjoyed this too, it was far too real and was unnerved by the older man’s apathy. Poor clone!

    • Reaper says:

      Great job on the writing. The most disturbing thing to me was the quiet acceptance of the clone. You went beyond empathy and made me feel sorry for him. I don’t have any empathy because he doesn’t seem to care, he knows his place. But him being in that place and probably designed to just accept makes me pity him and want his kidney to be bad. Worse yet, if he did somehow take over, he’s a clone. How soon would it be before he was the man everyone hated in the chair? Deep stuff here.

    • Observer Tim says:

      I’m with Reaper on this one; what I find most creepy and disturbing is the way the clone tacitly understands that his life is not his own. The telling line for me was “our kidney”; those two words summed up all that is eerie here in a succinct package.

  60. Augie says:

    The 12-year old cure for rock bottom.

    (I’m so happy for this prompt! Perfect timing!)

    Finding Me

    There is no place left where he doesn’t see visions of himself suffering. He walks out to his office shed, seeing himself through the window tapping away on the computer. He watches himself pause, wipe the tears and pace to the cries of the coyotes. No longer is he the author of his brothers well being.

    He walks by the fire pit, seeing himself rejoice with them. Now they are deployed for the first time, without him.

    He sees his daughters tree house, all his brothers have helped raise her and built this for her. I can’t tell you what they taught her, lets just say she is a confident little bad ass that wont have boyfriend problems.

    He walks by the couch, seeing himself in the fetal position as CNN reporters speak about the fate his brothers might be facing.

    Waking from another nightmare, he is drawn to the television again.

    ‘click’ “Head line news, President Obama has sent additional military advisers…” ‘click’.

    “Damn, I hope their new leader cares for them!”

    The retired solider paces, every where he looks is a vision of himself suffering. There’s nowhere to hide.

    Something tapped his memory of feeling like this before.

    “Shit! I forgot about that!”

    He races to the garage looking through old ammo boxes. He remembers his very first mission. It was a very awkward mission for two reasons. He was the 19-year old newbie, and could feel the teams doubt. Even worse, the team was being lead by a new leader, ‘Hammer’. It was obvious that they missed their old leader and questioned Hammer’s abilities.

    “There you are!” He pulls out a very old record. The front cover has a human skull ripping through the earth. Jean Michel Jarre 1976 Oxyegene.

    He hugs the record remembering the first time he heard it. After his first mission he felt like a thousand emotions had been put in a high speed blender. Guilt was the number one ingredient.
    Hammer approached him, “here, take this kid” He hands the newbie the album. “You did good today, don’t worry, its gets easier once you realize that we all share the feelings. It’s too much for one to carry. Go to the barracks, turn out the lights and lay in bed on your back. Play this and let the journey take you.”

    He runs down stairs, his 12-year old stands smiling. “Dad, what is that?”

    “Honey it is a record, do you want to hear it?

    They lay hand and hand in the dark basement and journey through the vision. Drifting through the beginning….the hunt…..the new beginning.

    Visions filled his mind, somewhere far-far away.

    Scorpion shouts, “shit!, taking on fire, taking on fire!”

    “Rodger that, ‘command, we have a problem… Coordinates are’…..

    Reaper stares at the new leader, “ Are your ready for da-shit?”

    The leader smiles, “ We, are.”

    The leader shouts out orders to the team like a seasoned warrior then softens his voice,“We are out numbered by beast, not by warriors.”

    “Go-go-go!”

    Her fathers grip tightens, the song lowers his heartbeat, the vision continues to the end of the battle.

    “They made it.”

    Air lift arrives, the team celebrate in the aircraft. Reaper asks the new leader, “What is your call name?”

    The leader looks across the aircraft as the entire team searches his eyes.

    “I haven’t been given one yet, perhaps one of the foul names you have already called me?”

    Scorpion stands, “ Falcon!, that is your call name.”

    Falcon stands on the aircraft and bows, “ Thank you men, it is an honor!”

    “ Dad, Dad, DAD! Wake up!”

    He sits up, “wow! Did you experience that?” She smiles, “Dad, I downloaded that last year when you were away for nine months. I knew it must have been important to you and wanted to feel close to you.

    I know you hate watching news, but I remember when mom and I would cheer you guys on! Even if we never knew exactly where you were.”

    They walk upstairs, he sees the broken man sitting on the couch in front of the TV. “Come on baby, lets see what’s on news! His sits down, shattering the broken version of himself, and smiles.

    ‘click’ ‘ The terrorist group has posted another graphic execution on the internet’

    His daughter shouts, “Get them Scorpion, Reaper, Tank, and Colossus!”

    The father smiles at his daughter, “Go Falcon!”

    He stands and looks at all the broken images of himself, “You can leave now, I’ll take it from here.”

    That night, he sits in his office shed looking at his computer. The coyotes race past the pond howling,

    “Time to do my part.” His name was, Aguila. A name given to him by his team….

    • Cceynowa says:

      Powerful and moving. Thank you for sharing.

    • MCKEVIN says:

      This was good Augie on so many different levels. I wonder what else the daughter is thinking and where is the mother? Good one!

      • Augie says:

        MCKEVIN, I was thrilled to see you read this tale. Well, It was late in the night. As for what the daughter thought? I guess this is the age of guessing. (Im sure her mother put her up to it!) Man, I cant wait to read your response!

        • MCKEVIN says:

          I try to read them all even if I don’t respond. I especially try to read the shorter ones and the first of those posted in a series. I’m still working out some kinks because thanks to Dmelde last prompt posting, I’m trying something new. Wish me luck lol.

    • k.spicer says:

      Good job Augie, it left me thinking. But I was wondering about the mother as well…perhaps that is something that was intended because it felt intentional.

      • Augie says:

        Thanks k.spicer! I meant to leave her out, but I can see how it might have a different meaning because I did. This was about my daughter and how she kept an eye on me ‘all the time’.

    • Mojowritin says:

      Very emotional and moving.

    • Reaper says:

      Augie, I’m not entirely sure what to say. This is touching in a way that I can’t fully put into words. You have added even more depth recently and it is amazing. You have this way of putting everything just right, at least for me. I think knowing how much you base on your life makes a difference. I saw questions of where is the mother and it makes sense to me that she is left to the side on this one. In this story she has no direct contribution, which is not to say she does not affect it. However to put her in when she is not directly involved would weaken her and be insulting to a great woman. So leaving her out was a thing of respect. At least that seems to be what is left unstated to me.

      • Augie says:

        Well you got my style and of course you knew it was something between her and I

        Thanks all. On the road. Hate typing on a phone

      • Augie says:

        I felt bad for the short response to such a wonderful comment. I was using my phone when My daughter taught me how to hot spot it for my lap top! (kids!) Thank You Reaper, and yes, this was about my daughter. It was a special morning for her and I and I wanted to honor that. Thanks for being here.

    • WritingKittenOfLoki says:

      Well done Augie. I might get teary eyed if I think about this to long. I was going to say that it was amazing, but your stories always are; whenever I read your name I settle down knowing it’s going to be for a gripping, moving, wonderful story.

      • Augie says:

        Thanks writer kitten. Man I hate texting. Cant wait to get back to my pc. Looks like I’m going to be a history teacher. Yeaaa. Thanks for your comments. Made me smile..

    • Observer Tim says:

      Great story, Augie. This manages to be both touching and thought-provoking. When we watch the news it’s easy to forget that there’s people behind every story; excellent take on the viewpoint of one of those people. It’s good to hear the human side of things we only guess about.

      Writing this must have been an incredible cathartic.

      • Augie says:

        Thank you Tim. Yes, that was my main point to this and yes it was tearing me to shreds. I had to find a balance and let go. I don’t know how people watch what I consider the most horrible form of entertainment on television. Thanks Tim!

  61. Observer Tim says:

    MY TWIN

    I hate double shifts. Don’t get me wrong; I love my job, but something about being on my feet for sixteen hours straight rubs me the wrong way. It’s nearly midnight before I get home, and I have to be back in the shop at seven.

    As I walk up the seven flights of stairs to my apartment I notice that somebody has the TV on too loud. Hopefully they’ll shut it off soon; I need a bit of sleep at least. I don’t want to knock on the door because it could be as easily answered by a shotgun as by a neighbour.

    When I reach my door I realize to my horror that it’s my TV blaring away. And I smell fresh coffee. This is bad: very bad. In my neighbourhood break-ins are common and the intruders are the type that would really ‘enjoy’ the sudden arrival of a young woman.

    I’d call the police but they don’t come to this part of town. Instead I use my library card to open the latch. It’s quieter than the key. I step into the entry and take out the tire iron I keep in the umbrella stand, then creep toward the living room.

    When I get a glimpse of the intruder my jaw drops. It’s me. She’s curled up in my favourite chair watching late-night porn wearing nothing but a cup of coffee. She looks up at me.

    “Hi Emily. How was work?”

    “Uh…”

    “Could you close the door? I don’t want anyone sneaking in.”

    “But…”

    “Sheesh.” She walks past me and closes the door, setting two of the chains afterward. I can’t help but admire her –my– body. “How was work today, Emily? Anything I need to know?”

    “Who… how…?”

    “Come on, Emily. I have to go to work in a few hours. Is there anything I need to know?”

    I wasn’t sure about this, but if she was taking my shift for me I’d give her the scoop. Never turn down help. “Ted finally confessed that he relived a fantasy about me and a bathtub full of whipped cream. Bob has some new pics of Sarah and little Natalie on his iPhone, and Mary is still looking at me like I broke into her car.”

    “What about Jack?”

    “Still in jail, the sick bastard. The cops have found two bodies and a dozen skeletons in his back yard so far.”

    “And Spicy Memory?”

    “Sold two pots at ten bucks a demi. That’s four hundred bucks below the till after Jerry’s cut. Um, Emily, what’s going on here? Why are there two of me?”

    “Because you’re a duplicate, Emily, formed from Cappuccino and Twin Blend spices. Another of my gran’s special coffees.” She kisses me, and as she licks her lips I disappear like the foam that I’m made from.
    ___

    This story begins with the prompt “A Few Sips Off” from two weeks ago.

  62. Pete says:

    Wow, this was great. Sick and twisted and thouroughly entertaining. Nice work!

  63. Pete says:

    Idiocracy Prophecy

    Bounding the stairs, I clutched the envelop that contained a copy of my USMLE results. My residency was complete and I had big plans to do some travelling for the next month before I began my lifelong dream of being a pediatrician. But first, drinks.

    Opening the door to my long lost apartment I let my messenger bag slide off my shoulder to the floor with a thud and glanced at the stack of mail on the counter. “Yo Mark!”

    Nothing. I padded towards the living room, hearing the distinct sound of a lawyer soliciting clients via sirens and screams. Mark must have fallen asleep on the couch. I turned the corner. “Dude, I’m ba—Oh for the love of God!”

    I froze, horrified as the figure looked up from the couch with a vacant, mouth-breathing stare. Then it stuffed out a cigarette into the ashtray spilling over onto my Writer’s Digest.

    “Hey, you look like me,” It announced and I dropped my envelope, observing my gut—its gut—one that tugged at the middle of the sleeveless Big Johnson t-shirt it was wearing. I watched it stand, yawn, fart, and then scratch itself. “Hey, you stupid or something?”

    Shaking my head, I pinched the bridge of my nose, hoping the nightmare in front of me was just that. “Um, I don’t…who are you?”

    “You’re dumber than a sack of shit, man. I’m David Malcom.”

    “No,” I muttered, shaking my head like a child in shock. “You’re not. You’re really not.” I said and Dumb Me shrugged. I leaped out of my shoes at the banging on the door. Hannibal lunged out of my arms and blasted towards the door. Dumb Me chuckled.

    “Nice glasses. You a homo? That’s it isn’t it?”

    I backed into the kitchen where I jumped again, because two Men-In-Black types stood stock still and staring. “Is this our guy? Or the…?”

    The shorter one studied me and then nodded. “Yes. Dr. Malcolm?”

    “What the hell is going on?”

    “I’m Agent Dalton and this here is Agent Calloway. You need to come with us immediately.”

    Dumb Me appeared in the doorway, scratching his belly. “You’re going to miss People’s Court, dumbass.”

    In a government facility, I was briefed on Project Renaissance, an Earth surrendering exodus that was put in place for human survival. They already had Mark, and he helped explain.

    For the past decade, all of our text, emails, and social media posts were being filtered, along with phone conversations and online purchases. All of it went into the database. When a metric detected IQ of over 130 was measured, the subjects were deemed fit for relocation.

    “How is this, legal, or even possible? What about my family?”

    Dalton shook his head, as though I were asking the wrong questions. “You’re being replaced by the clone. They look and act just as real as any human life form, only with below average intelligence. That way it won’t alarm other nations.”

    “Other nations. So this is like the Patriot Act?”

    Another shake of the head. “Here’s what you need to know: Where you’re going we have no war, no unemployment, no poverty or hunger or violent crime. There’s no racism because there is dialogue, understanding, compassion. There’s hope.”

    “But what about…here?” Calloway’s eyes dropped.

    “We’ve done all we can. Metrics show that time is running out.”

    Metrics. Technology. Progress, Destruction. Chaos. Guns. Bombs. Laws. Plunder. Hatred. Time has only been a race to find ways to destroy the land and the living. The race had been won.

    It’s a world gone mad. And yet…

    The glint of a spider web catching the rays of an early morning sun. A child chasing a butterfly in the wild flowers. An ocean breeze in the fall. A daughter’s squealing laughter as she runs from a wave and into the safety of her mother’s arms.

    “I can’t. I’m sorry but I can’t. I must go back.”

    “You can’t.” The two exchanged looks. “No oneturns down this offer. It’s certain doom.”

    “We’re all doomed. Now go do something with that idiot in my apartment.”

    • Pete says:

      FYI, Hannibal was a dog I cut out to save words, but I missed a spot. Oops.

    • snovy121 says:

      so cynical and funny, then you take a serious tone with that last full paragraph. Nice.

    • Cceynowa says:

      Pete, well done. This makes me think/worry/and (sadly) agree with the state of our world. I think the MC will be needing a drink at his apartment, but not in celebration.

    • Augie says:

      How did you pull all of this out of the prompt? What an incredible plot and message. I really enjoyed this one! Great Job Pete!

    • I wish your message was less in your face telling us the state of things, but it’s read true never the less. Nice job as usual, Pete.

    • k.spicer says:

      Good job Pete, message received.

    • Reaper says:

      Pete, I loved this. Not commenting a lot this week due to lack of time again, but this was just so powerful I couldn’t pass it up. I don’t actually find this preachy but I can see why others might. The thing is you have two messages, one that is in your face but it is one that most people would agree with in their own ways. However you have a second message that is subtle and because of the first it is nicely masked. When your feds started talking about this ideal place my heart sank and I knew it was a place of no freedom and no real hope. That second message that the answers aren’t out there, that they aren’t in giving up what make us human was hidden in there. We may not know the answers but they are here and the choice your MC makes shows a calling to that. So because I can read that message under the first I think the heavy handedness was almost necessary. Just my two cents.

    • Mojowritin says:

      I’m not a huge fan of the ‘men in black’ style stories, but this was well written. Wish I could have got to know Hannibal :)

    • Observer Tim says:

      This is an interesting dystopia you’ve created, Pete. I can understand the plan (smart people = no bad human stuff), but the designers seemed to have missed the fact that the intelligentsia bring their own set of problems. I give the “ideal society” about a month, assuming they have total military crackdown…

      I love the last line. I’ve said “We’re all doomed” too many times…

  64. k.spicer says:

    This is a take from a previous prompt that I did that seemed to go right with this prompt. Maybe you’ll remember it when you read this one. It’s a little over word count.

    The year is 2014, at least I think is. When I arrived home today I got the shock of my life. I was sitting in my easy-chair relaxing and enjoying a cold sarsaparilla after a rather strenuous deployment onboard the USS Time Keeper. The only problem is, that was something that happened twenty five years ago and I’m witnessing it standing in the doorway today.

    You can imagine my surprise when I walked in on myself watching TV. None of it made sense until Admiral Seiko stepped out of the next room and stared at me with that look of concern he gets whenever something goes wrong with one of our experiments; I’d say that this is about as wrong as it could get.

    I remember the day of the experiment like it was yesterday. They had added a second nuclear powered generator to the already massive one they had aboard the ship. It was a new model, compact enough to fit in the corner of the cargo hull and it was connected to several new transformers attached on deck that boosted the overall power output by sevenfold. When we turned the generators on and the power came to a peak several very strange things happened.

    First, everything within the aura of the electrical field became energized and glowed like the sun. Then everything was swallowed up into complete darkness as if a giant spider had spun a black web around us until it completely enveloped us, encasing us in a cocoon of complete darkness. As I stand here looking at myself twenty-five years in the past, I now know what a hundred and forty-million volts of electricity will do; it will rip the fabric of time-space.

    I was never sure how long we were in the darkness, perhaps five minutes maybe longer; in any case I groped around in the darkness until I found the handle of the power switch and pulled it, killing the power that was coming from the generators. It was only moments later that we emerged from the darkness and reentered the light of day.

    No one could explain why we were two hundred and fifty kilometers from the location that we disappeared from. The small fleet of ships that were monitoring the experiment lost all contact with us, both electronically and visually, until we reappeared. No one ever explained to us what had happened that day…until now.

    Admiral Seiko didn’t have to explain much; having studied physics, and then quantum physics, I now understand what happened. We created a tear in the fabric of time and went through it reemerging in a different part of time-space. I would have never guessed that the old time-space still existed right beside the new one, only twenty-five years apart, like electrical wave forms out of phase with each other, which explains why we didn’t see the change until now. It took twenty-five years for the wave forms to converge at the point where they are today.

    Admiral Seiko and the others, having done the math, knew this day would come and were waiting for us to meet ourselves and explain what had happened. I had cut off the power too soon causing the time-space wave forms to be close enough together to cause “self-recognition” as he called it. Had I waited until I was given the command to cut the power off, our life cycles would have never met at the convergence point and the crew would have never know what happened to them that day. We would have lived out our lives on the waveform we were on and our other selves would have lived out their lives on the waveform they were on. Our future selves would have been dead long before we ever met at the convergence point. But now they’re saying we have a problem.

    The only real problem I see is that there is now two of me, at least until I die, as well as two of everyone that took part in the experiment that day. The Navy’s solution to the whole situation is to issue everyone involved a new identity and to go on as if nothing out of the ordinary has happened.

    After arguing with my other self for hours today I realized that their solution to the problem isn’t as cut and dry as they may think it is. I’m wondering now what they will do when I sue myself for custody of my children? As for now, I need an aspirin; for some reason this whole situation is giving me a splitting headache.

    • Augie says:

      Great read! I really enjoyed this k.spicer! For some reason I heard about a US Navy vessel that vanished while doing experiential test a long time ago. Well, that’s the Navy’s no-shitter stories for ya! Thanks for this.

      • Augie says:

        I found it! Called the ‘Philadelphia Experiment’ A allegation was made that the US Navy developed a ‘cloaking’ device making USS Eldrige disappear! Thanks again..

        • k.spicer says:

          Yea, I was sort of continuing a prompt that I did under “Captain off deck” where something happened loosely based off the Eldrige. Weird stuff ha? Actually I think I wrote three different scenes off of that particular prompt. It must have sparked something in me. (no pun intended.)

    • Nice Spicer… has the feeling of The Final Countdown. I’m curious, why doesn’t he just kill his other self? I mean, would that be technically legal? haha I don’t think they have laws against going back in time and snuffing out your bastard younger self. :)

    • MCKEVIN says:

      I’ve never really liked Sci Fi until I came to this forum. I’m writing my first piece as you read this. Having read your posting makes me want to try writing this genre. You did a good job of making me want to know more about this genre. Good job and thanks for sharing

      • k.spicer says:

        Welcome to the dark side! You write well and you’ll do fine with Sci Fi, Shoo fly, or apple pie. Just open your mind to the possibilities…if your a writer, the words will flow.

    • snovy121 says:

      It made my head explode a little. That was awesome.

    • Observer Tim says:

      This is a great sequel to its predecessor, k.spicer; I loved how you kept the science side of the story while also bringing out the human side. Of course, I’m also a big sucker for time travel stories…

      Go Tesla!

  65. snovy121 says:

    “That’s strange,” thought Tom Reznik as he turned the doorknob and walked into his foyer. He still did not quite have his wits about him after abruptly swerving his Lexus ES to avoid hitting the petite red-haired mother and her young child only minutes before in the busy intersection of Main and Walnut Heights. But he was certain he turned off the TV that morning.

    When he reached the living room, he could feel the hair standing on his neck as encountered his spitting image sitting on the couch watching CNN, the same channel Tom had watched this morning. The man wore a white tee-shirt, and blue boxers with white stripes. Tom was certain that he had woken up in those same clothes.

    “H-hello,” said Tom to the man on the couch, “w-who, what is going on?” The man didn’t so much as flinch.

    “I must be going insane,” thought Tom as he rushed out the house. He went toward his car, struck in terror again by his own image, this time about six years younger and accompanied by his wife and two sons, Bryce and David. All four of them were laughing and throwing water balloons at each other. Tom could feel his breathing ease, remembering this weekend. The Rezniks had planned a camping trip to the Smoky Mountains for Memorial Day weekend but canceled the trip last minute when Bryce developed strep throat. He was feeling better by Monday, so the family had a barbecue and impromptu water balloon fight on the front lawn.

    “Dad! You can’t throw that at me! I’m still sick” Bryce cried as Tom raised his arm to toss a balloon.

    Tom put his arm down, giving in to his son’s plea, but Bryce nonetheless received a surprise pelting from behind. “You’re not that sick!” David screamed, not letting his younger brother off the hook so easily. What a good time that weekend was after all. But Tom had to stay on task. These were hallucinations and now was no time to reminisce about the past.

    “Go to the ER,” he thought, getting into his car and turning the ignition.

    “No more! Make this stop!” he thought as he faced yet another image of himself, Angie, Bryce, and David. They were walking all together, laughing and smiling. Like the water balloon fight, this live memory was equal parts terror and comfort. They were walking to the ice cream store on David’s 11th birthday, after the dog ate the beautiful cake that Angie had made. What a funny night. None of them could quit laughing . Since then, Tom had been promoted and was rarely home. The boys were now in high school and always at soccer practice or theatre rehearsal. Tom missed the good old days. But first thing was first. He needed to check in the hospital.

    He almost reached Main and Walnut Heights, but he was behind several vehicles and traffic was not moving. “Not now!” he said aloud, “Please not now.” He scanned the scene to realize that a black Lexus ES was smashed against a traffic light pole. A red-haired small lady frantically looked into the window while talking on her phone.

    “That’s my car! That’s the same lady I almost hit!” Tom thought. “What’s going on?” Tom parked his car and stormed out to once again find his own image, this time unconscious in the driver’s seat.

    “Am I dead? ” he asked, but the lady did not respond. The other bystanders on the scene ignored him too. “Dear God! I wrecked and died,” He closed his eyes, feeling the tears build up. He opened them to see he was no longer in the intersection but looking up at Angie, Bryce, and David above him. He was lying in a hospital bed. He saw his family had turned on CNN, the station he always watched.

    “Dad!” Bryce called, “You had a bad wreck! I’m so glad to see you!” Tom could see the relief in his son’s wide eyes.

    “You have no idea,” Tom responded. “Now what do you say about a camping trip as soon as I’m out of here?”

  66. Cynthia Page says:

    A Moment of Clarity

    As I entered the door from the garage into the laundry room, I noted someone speaking from somewhere in the house, but thought nothing of it. I laid my briefcase on the kitchen table, and opened the refrigerator. Not that I knew what I wanted, but habit directed my hand. As soon as I opened it and saw fruit juice instead of beer, I remembered. I stood there, staring at various bottled liquids, jars of condiments, and plastic leftover containers without any volition to make a choice.

    It was one of those moments when you go from habit to awareness that requires mental adjustment. The voice slowly registered as an anchorman introducing a news segment. With a history of my wife and children typically controlling our viewing choices, I did not think of the divorce and custody judgment for several seconds, perhaps a full minute, while I stared at nothing I wanted in the fridge.

    Then, the wrongness crept up on me. I had not watched the news in nearly six months, nor had I watched anything other than sports for two months. I no longer had a wife and three kids, who had moved out of state, nor was there any other reason for the TV to impinge on my lack of serenity. I tensed up, listened for clues, and shut the refrigerator door without a conscious decision to be concerned. It was a strange moment of curiosity coupled with new clarity. I was suddenly at the door between the dining room and the living room, without recall of walking there.

    A fat man with a prominent bald spot sat at one end of the couch, beer in hand, mumbling about what he was watching, though nothing specific registered with me. I stepped closer and saw that the man wore only grey boxer shorts and a stained white undershirt. On the coffee table in front of him were over a dozen crushed beer cans, an overflowing ashtray full of stinky cigarillos, a newspaper nearly shredded from handling, and a small pile legal papers. The profile of this slacker was far too recognizable as his own.

    “Hey, who the hell are you? What are you doing? What the hell is going on?”

    With nothing coherent in my thoughts, I simply questioned his identity and purpose. Confusion fogged my brain. The slovenly, incoherent idiot turned around from the waist, peered at me myopically, and said, “Go away, you’re just a figment.” The room spun dizzily for a moment, and when it resolved, I was on the couch, looking toward the kitchen, with a beer in my hand, and an ungodly stench souring my breath.

    My wife stood at the dining room door with her purse over her arm. She yelled, “Figment, my ass. Get help.” She turned around and left…

    …as my hand reached into the refrigerator for my first beer in six months. I did not recall buying the twelve-pack that filled the top shelf. Stunned and concerned for my sanity, I took the twelve-pack out, carried it to the sink, and methodically opened and emptied all twelve cans into the drain.

  67. Cceynowa says:

    Man of the House

    Tearing my slacks on the edge of the car door was the perfect finish to a disastrous day. Growling under my breath, I juggled my purse, dry cleaning, and the take-out I had picked up for a quick meal tonight. I had had plans to cook, honest, but the dry cleaner had misplaced my suit and I was too tired to even consider heating up a lasagna. At the front door I fumbled for the house keys while balancing precariously on the narrow steps. From inside, I could hear a laugh track periodically cut through lower rumbles of speech. James must have turned the TV on before he left for work and forgot to turn it off. Typical.

    My husband’s forgetful habits joined my already black thoughts as I pushed my way into the hallway, kicked the door shut behind me, and stomped into the kitchen. The sounds from the living room suddenly ceased. Glancing at the wall clock, I saw that it was too early for James to be home. He worked the later shift at the factory this week. Over my shoulder I yelled, “Hey honey, what are you doing home?”

    No answer.

    “James,” I yelled again. Turning, I looked into my own eyes.

    My instinctual reaction, falling back onto the kitchen’s floor, saved my life. The knife swept close to my chest, tearing the fabric of my blazer. I crab-walked backwards away from my knife wielding clone.

    She lunged at me again, and I managed to twist out from under her at the last second. I scrambled to my feet, yanked a carving knife from the block, and took a defensive pose on the other side of the kitchen’s island. We surveyed one another. She was wearing a vintage 1950’s dress and her hair was in ridiculous tin-can curls. I was disgusted at the blush on her cheeks.

    “Who the hell are you,” I asked.

    “Isn’t it obvious,” she asked.

    “Get out of my house,” I growled.

    She lowered her knife, as if she was considering my demand. I had time to wonder if I was hallucinating. I had been working many long hours the past few months after my promotion. Maybe I was having a mental breakdown. I had almost talked myself into lowering my own knife when she laughed.

    “This is my house. James said so. My kitchen to cook in. My yard to plant pretty flowers in. My bedroom to love him in as often as he wants. You should go.”

    She laughed at the pain that showed on my face. I knew she was right; I was no longer James’ wife. Our marriage was over when I accepted a promotion over him at the factory. I think I would have walked out and started a new life if James had not walked through the front door at that very moment. His look of confusion quickly turned to anger.

    “You stupid cow,” he said as he headed down the hall to our bedroom.

    “James!” my clone and I called as one woman. I think we both started after him when the sound of the shotgun cocking froze our steps.

    He reappeared at the kitchen’s doorway. The gun was leveled at my chest.

    “James?” My voice shook.

    “I should have known you wouldn’t be able to handle it,” he spoke to my clone. “I made you to clean and cook, not for big responsibilities. It’s okay. I’ll do the hard work. I’m the man of this house after all.”

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