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She’s Not Dead

Categories: Creative Writing Prompts.

Your high school math teacher disappeared when you were sixteen years old, but now you have reason to believe she’s not dead. A week ago before your high school reunion, you received a mysterious letter that appears to be in code—much like the puzzles she once gave her students. Now, at the reunion, you discover that several of your classmates have received similar letters.

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

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191 Responses to She’s Not Dead

  1. MSJama says:

    Part. 1

    I can’t believe that it’s been 30 years since I graduated high school, I thought. But this was the day that my world crashed. And now I’m doomed for my ignorance of something I never knew existed, well not in real life at least. We need to solve this puzzle once and for all, for Mrs. Karner – for us. The only way was to find her husband; he’s the only one who understood her issue with these puzzles.

    It was almost a religion for her. It chills me remembering how she use to cry out in the middle of a quiet moment, like a test or reading sessions, upon finding an answer. Irregular bursts of ‘YES!’ Or, ‘I’m so close guys!’ were among the norm. We could never get used to them, no matter how many times we experienced them. And she would always said that: ‘I’m so close guys,’ I thought she would be done before the end of the semester but it went right through the months of the two-hour classes with her – until she disappeared, that is.
    I lived in a small town of Eastchester. In my town, like every small town, everyone had some sort of relationship with one another, unlike the massive city where I currently reside. So when I told my mom about my art teacher’s weird behavior, it only took her a few minutes to get to the bottom of it with none other than her very own husband. Well, at least I thought she got to the end of it.

    “Don’t worry honey,” my mom said after the phone call “Mr. Karner said she is fine, she’s grieving her mother’s recent death.” She frowned then patted my back. “We’ll bring over some flowers tomorrow.”

    “Sure mom, thanks… I guess.” I felt the shame drowning me, but then again it wasn’t much to be honest – she was weird, and I barely known her.

    It wasn’t long before our whole class dropped by to pay their condolences.

    When I snapped back, I found that the only way to solve the mystery behind the puzzle left at my door that could only be created by a lady thirty years cold was to talk to the man who knows her best. I searched on the computer scrolling through the hundreds of J. Karner listings on 411.com. J for Jonathan. Lucky for me he still lived in Eastchester – that narrowed it down, all the way down. Click.

    When I reached 22354 Long Street I didn’t notice a single change to the place, tint to grain. I knocked and introduced myself – it took about twenty minutes to catch up before he let me in. I guess at 78 things don’t process as fast for some.

    “I was awaiting your arrival son,” he starts. “I know a lot of what I will tell you will sound impossible or unrealistic but I can assure you that you and the others-”

    “Others?”

    “Yes, well, everyone in your 1982 art class received a similar puzzle and it’s not a coincidence” There were so many thing going on in my head, so much to ask, but I decided to let Mr. Karner’s story unfold – slowly and in agony.

    “Well, what is it? I thought she was dead!” My heart sunk and hands trembled from the thirty minutes of horror that followed. I suddenly felt that we were not alone.

    TO BE CONTINUED…

  2. Wendy2020 says:

    Ok, at this point, I am just playing around with formatting. Seeing if I can get superscript to be a recognized format.

    Mathlete vs. Murder

    Mrs. Jenkins gave a math quiz every Friday.  Except one Friday in May, she didn’t.   Because on Thursday, she disappeared.  The body of Principal Horowitz was found under the stadium bleachers, stuffed inside our school mascot’s Demon costume.  Mrs. Jenkins body was never found, just lots of her blood.

    The next year Riverview High changed their sports teams’ names to the Saints.

    I attended the 20th reunion to ensure more was served that night than just bad appetizers and stale desserts.

    Our seating was assigned, just like in high school.  I was the single mathlete amongst popular athletes, but we all have one thing common:  the cryptic letters we’d received last Friday, signed by Mrs. Jenkins.

    Bill Ludlow, former quarterback, hadn’t waited for the reunion.  He’d solved his problem on his own.

    Bill tossed his question and answer onto my plate as he took off for the open bar.

    “Didn’t even use a calculator.  That’d be a copout don’t you think?”

    Bill’s Clue: 

    1 1 3 4 2 0 9    (Use a calculator)

    Bill’s Solution: 

    1×1+(3+4)+(2*0)*9 = 8   

    1-1+(3+4)-2+(0*9)  =  5

    1/1*(3+4+2)-0+9 = 18

    1/1*(3+4+2)-0+9 = 15

    Alphabet Cipher:  8=H, 5=E, 18=R, 15=O   Hero

    Impressive. Hero status confirmed.

    Bill, not the police, had apprehended, Eddie Rumson, crack-addict drop-out turned confessed murderer.  The knife was in Eddie’s pocket, the victims’ blood caked on his sleeves.

    Onto the next clue…

    Olivia’s (Bill’s High School Sweetheart) Clue:

    432161- 626381-31322131

    “Does not compute” registered on my tablemates’ faces.  I pulled out my cell phone and solved it.  The first number was a button phone keypad, and the second referenced the number above it.

    Olivia’s Answer:

     I AM NOT DEAD

    Marcus’(Football Team Co-Captain) Clue:

    .192 + .153 + .153 + .348 + .192

    .348 + .730

    .348 + .538 + .538 + .576 + .115 + .192 + .538 + .769

    The athletes began to add.  But it was not the kind of problem that added up.  Each number was a decimal representation of a letter of the alphabet.  .192 =  5/26.  E is 5 of the 26 letters of the alphabet.  Using that code, I filled in the rest.

    Marcus’ Answer:

    EDDIE

    IS

    INNOCENT

    Jeremy’s (Bill’s Best Friend) Clue:

    Under the   X2 + Y2 = r2  [ ]

    Athlete eyes fillede with the incomprehension of infinity turn to me.

    Jeremy’s Answer:

    Pure mathematics.   X2 + Y2 = r2  is the formula for a circle.  [ ] is the symbol for the empty set. There is one vacant seat at our table, besides Bill’s.   I flip over the plate at that place setting.  A message, along with torn bloody piece of fabric is taped below.

     After 20 years, I’ve awoken from my coma.  The fabric is torn piece of football jersey.  DNA tests should prove it is  Bill Ludlow’s.  He attacked Principal Horowitz and me after we refused to fudge his GPA so he could qualify for a football scholarship.  Such a waste of a bright mind.  He was always smart enough.  Just impromperly motivated.

    “This doesn’t make sense.  If Bill is the murderer, why’d Mrs. Jenkins’ clue call him a hero?” asked Olivia.

    I take my own stab at Bill’s clue, using a calculator as instructed.  

    She hadn’t called him a hero at all.  When I typed in the digits 1 1 3 4 2 0 9, then flipped the calculator upside down the message was clear:

    Go 2hell.

  3. MSJama says:

    pS. I am a new writer, 19 years old. So go easy on the reviews ahaha! Also, comment if you liked it, there is about 300 more words left of the story, great ending! :D

    Thanks!!

    M.S. Jama

  4. MSJama says:

    I can’t believe that it’s been 30 years since I graduated high school, I thought. But this was the day that my world crashed. And now I’m doomed for my ignorance of something I never knew existed, well not in real life at least. We need to solve this puzzle once and for all, for Mrs. Karner – for us. The only way was to find her husband; he’s the only one who understood her issue with these puzzles.

    It was almost a religion for her. It chills me remembering how she use to cry out in the middle of a quiet moment, like a test or reading sessions, upon finding an answer. Irregular bursts of ‘YES!’ Or, ‘I’m so close guys!’ were among the norm. We could never get used to them, no matter how many times we experienced them. And she would always said that: ‘I’m so close guys,’ I thought she would be done before the end of the semester but it went right through the months of the two-hour classes with her – until she disappeared, that is.
    I lived in a small town of Eastchester. In my town, like every small town, everyone had some sort of relationship with one another, unlike the massive city where I currently reside. So when I told my mom about my art teacher’s weird behavior, it only took her a few minutes to get to the bottom of it with none other than her very own husband. Well, at least I thought she got to the end of it.

    “Don’t worry honey,” my mom said after the phone call “Mr. Karner said she is fine, she’s grieving her mother’s recent death.” She frowned then patted my back. “We’ll bring over some flowers tomorrow.”

    “Sure mom, thanks… I guess.” I felt the shame drowning me, but then again it wasn’t much to be honest – she was weird, and I barely known her.

    It wasn’t long before our whole class dropped by to pay their condolences.

    When I snapped back, I found that the only way to solve the mystery behind the puzzle left at my door that could only be created by a lady thirty years cold was to talk to the man who knows her best. I searched on the computer scrolling through the hundreds of J. Karner listings on 411.com. J for Jonathan. Lucky for me he still lived in Eastchester – that narrowed it down, all the way down. Click.

    When I reached 22354 Long Street I didn’t notice a single change to the place, tint to grain. I knocked and introduced myself – it took about twenty minutes to catch up before he let me in. I guess at 78 things don’t process as fast for some.

    “I was awaiting your arrival son,” he starts. “I know a lot of what I will tell you will sound impossible or unrealistic but I can assure you that you and the others-”

    “Others?”

    “Yes, well, everyone in your 1982 art class received a similar puzzle and it’s not a coincidence” There were so many thing going on in my head, so much to ask, but I decided to let Mr. Karner’s story unfold – slowly and in agony.

    “Well, what is it? I thought she was dead!” My heart sunk and hands trembled from the thirty minutes of horror that followed. I suddenly felt that we were not alone.

    TO BE CONTINUED…

    • MSJama says:

      pS. I am a new writer, 19 years old. So go easy on the reviews ahaha! Also, comment if you liked it, there is about 300 more words left of the story, great ending!

      Thanks!!

      M.S. Jama

    • Jeanie Y says:

      MSJama…I enjoyed reading! I would like to know what happened—-aliens? hmmmm….

      One thing that struck me tho. In high school, not much gives teenagers chills. I would think they would think she was kooky and laugh and shrug it off as a little off balanced, but I didn’t get the chill factor. If she were saying things like “Die” or “Go away” or something a little more macabre, teenagers would admit to chills. They knew she was working puzzles so her statements were odd, but not chill-makers. Just my humble opinion. I am sure you have first hand recent experience of the high school environment!

      Anyhow, I liked it!

      • MSJama says:

        I was grining from ear to ear reading your lovely review. Lol good news, I’m almost done the full story and there will be more of that chill factor you desire in it. I will post my final draft here and under the Horror section of the forums (so it could have the italics) very soon! Thank you so much for your kind words, you encouraged me to continue; I thought no one cared for it lol!

  5. Wendy2020 says:

    Ugh, realizing some of my formatting did not transfer, thus one of the formula’s makes no sense. Maybe I will try again some time later… figures now that the prompt is over. :)

  6. DBS says:

    Long time reader, first time writer. I applaud all who are able to write a complete story in 500 words, I’m not there yet.
    ————————-
    Her disappearance was a mystery that shocked our small town. Just a few weeks before the end of my sophomore year, Miss Elsnore had vanished. Her car had been found off of a dark dirt road at the closed quarry, a location known by the town’s teenage population as a place to drink, make out, and partake in other activities that would be frowned upon by the local authorities.

    One of her dark red high heel shoes was found in the brush near the edge of the deep mouth of the quarry. Her body was never found and she had left no note. It was assumed that she had jumped, but no one knew why.

    Now twenty years later, I couldn’t stop thinking about her and what had happened. The ordeal that was high school had been in my mind a lot lately since my reunion was coming up. After skipping the last few milestones, I had committed to attending. I’m still not sure what I had been thinking when I sent in my RSVP.

    I looked down at the envelope. I had immediately recognized her handwriting and her signature purple ink (“Red ink is for oppressors,” she had told us. “Purple ink makes the grades seem more cheerful and the mistakes less painful.”) The letter inside confirmed it even though there was no signature. The single sheet contained one of her infamous logic puzzles that she had tortured our geometry class with.

    There was only one math problem on my sheet, followed by a short paragraph. She had explained the rules of her challenge in the first week of class. Complete each problem and your numerical answer would lead you to a word in the paragraph. The words would make up an anagram that would need to be unscrambled. Although it seemed easy, one mathematical mistake could lead to hours of frustration with the anagram.

    True to form, she had made the math problem tricky and I had to relearn how to calculate tangents and cosines. Luckily, Google was my cheat sheet this time around. I finished the problem and counted out the words. My word was ‘aquanaut.’ She always had several words, so someone out there had also received a letter.

    I had a hunch who else had quizzes and logged onto Facebook to check my theory. As my status update, I typed in ‘Purple Ink. AQUANAUT’ I quickly had my first response, but it was from a college friend: “New tattoo? Sounds pretty.” Disappointed, I stopped refreshing the screen and figured someone was playing a weird prank.

    As I headed out to dinner, my phone vibrated with a new response: “Me too ‘TIRE.’” This time it came from a fellow high school math team member.

    Then, another reply, this time from the captain of the math team: “Ditto: INN”

    My mom chimed in with a “Huh?” reminding me that I should carefully limit what postings people could see.

    A few hours later, the 4th and final mathlete added “Solved it. Let’s all talk at the reunion.”

    The captain replied back, “Not going,” to which the solver answered back, “You are now. See you there.”

  7. calicocat88 says:

    “She found us,” Will Hunter lingered back against the nicotine-yellow bricked wall in the old high school cafeteria. He pretended not to notice the horde compiled of his former classmates stuffed in their ancient prom dresses and suits, rubbing their bodies together on the make-shift dance floor. He drummed his fingers nervously on the cold brick. “It took her long enough. I never believed she was gone to begin with. Mutants have a way of always coming back around.”
    “Well, she didn’t finish the job,” Leslie Averman was pasted beside Will, a carrot-topped freckle jiggling on the balls of his feet. “Maybe she just wanted to see how we were doing. You know, after she tried to fry our brains and all, she’s bound to be concerned.”
    Will didn’t bother glaring at Averman. Ten years and he was still ragingly unrealistic in panic situations. “We can’t be the only two she sent the letters to,” He dug the crumpled piece of paper from out his pocket and traced his fingers across the black ink. “Look, it’s the same weird drawings she used to put on our algebra papers.”
    “Math people are freaks,” Averman grimaced. “Do you think she knows it was us who killed her?”
    “She’s not dead…” Will looked over the familiar writing on the paper. “And we both got a letter saying that she can’t wait to see us again. What the hell do you think?”
    Averman began to squirm. “You can’t make her explode like you were supposed to do to begin with?” Will rolled his eyes. “All that crazy shit you and Dante can do with your minds and you couldn’t even kill a high school math teacher?”
    “She tried to kill us first,” Will said, “Ms. Harris is more powerful than what she lets on. Besides,” he looked up as another brainwave lit the room. “You never know when she had her lackeys running around scoping us out.”
    “Guys,” Dante Manale walked up, his dark hair curling over his eyes. “It’s been a while.” He reached out and took Averman’s hand. “How’s life? I see you’ve managed to keep yourselves alive.” He let go of Averman and extended his hand to Will who ignored the gesture completely. Dante raised his eyebrows. “And I see you’ve also managed to stay an asshole.”
    Will held up the letter. “She’s back. And we’re her next targets.”
    Dante pulled a letter from inside his jacket and handed it to Will. “I know. I got mine a couple of weeks ago, saying that she wanted to see us all again at the reunion.” He looked over his shoulder. “Ms. Holly’s planning something, man. I feel it.”
    Will repressed a gag. Dante was the only one who referred to Ms. Harris with her first name. Will long suspected that they slept together at one point. Which was why he didn’t trust Dante.
    “It’s going to be tonight,” Will handed Dante back the letter after a quick scan. “She wants to toy with us.”
    “Did you check everybody in the room to see if they…” Dante wavered his hands in front of him.
    Will nodded to his secret meaning. Dante wanted to know if Will read their thoughts. “Yeah, they’re all clear. What about you? Got any odd readings?”
    Dante sighed heavily, “Nothing. Everything is as stagnant as it was when we left.” He looked over at the cafeteria entrance and shrugged. “I just keep getting this feeling…Oh shit!”
    The explosion sent people flying in the air and crashing along the floor. The double doors had been blown off their hinges and an angry ring of fire outlined the entrance. Dante was in a crouch, while Averman found it suitable to hide behind him. Will stood, facing the doorway, waiting for what he knew was about to walk through those doors.

  8. Wendy2020 says:

     

    Mrs. Jenkins gave a math quiz every Friday.  Except one Friday in May, she didn’t.   Because on Thursday, she disappeared.  The body of Principal Horowitz was found under the stadium bleachers, stuffed inside our school mascot’s Demon costume.  Mrs. Jenkins body was never found, just lots of her blood.

    The next year Riverview High changed their sports teams’ names to the Saints.

    I attended the 20th reunion to ensure more was served that night than just bad appetizers and stale desserts.

    Our seating was assigned, just like in high school.  I am the single mathlete amongst popular athletes, but we all have one thing common.  The cryptic letters we’d received last Friday, signed by Mrs. Jenkins. 

    Bill Ludlow, former quarterback, hadn’t waited for the reunion.  He’d solved his problem on his own. 

    Bill tossed his question and answer onto my plate as he took off for the open bar.

    “Didn’t even use a calculator.  That’d be a copout don’t you think?”

     

    Bill’s Clue: 

    1 1 3 4 2 0 9    (Use a calculator)

    Bill’s Solution: 

    1×1+(3+4)+(2*0)*9 = 8   

    1-1+(3+4)-2+(0*9)  =  5

    1/1*(3+4+2)-0+9 = 18

    1/1*(3+4+2)-0+9 = 15

    Alphabet Cipher:  8=H, 5=E, 18=R, 15=O   Hero

    Impressive. Hero status confirmed.

    Bill, not the police, had apprehended, Eddie Rumson, crack-addict drop-out turned confessed murderer.  The knife was in Eddie’s pocket, the victims’ blood caked on his sleeves.

    Onto the next clue…

    Olivia’s (Bill’s High School Sweetheart) Clue:

     432161- 626381-31322131

    “Does not compute” registered on my tablemates’ faces.  I pulled out my cell phone and solved it.  The first number was a button phone keypad, and the second referenced the number above it.

    Olivia’s Answer:

    I AM NOT DEAD

    Marcus’(Football Team Co-Captain) Clue:

     .192 + .153 + .153 + .348 + .192

    .348 + .730

    .348 + .538 + .538 + .576 + .115 + .192 + .538 + .769

    The athletes began to add.  But it was not the kind of problem that added up.  Each number was a decimal representation of a letter of the alphabet.  .192 =  5/26.  E is 5 of the 26 letters of the alphabet.  Using that code, I filled in the rest.

    Marcus’ Answer:

    EDDIE

    IS

    INNOCENT

    Jeremy’s (Bill’s Best Friend) Clue:

    Under the   X2 + Y2 = r2  [ ]

    Athlete eyes filled with the incomprehension of infinity turn to me.

     eremy’s Answer:

    Pure mathematics.   X2 + Y2 = r2  is the formula for a circle.  [ ] is the symbol for the empty set.

    There is one vacant seat at our table, besides Bill’s.   I flip over the plate at that place setting.  A message, along with torn bloody piece of fabric is taped below.

    After 20 years, I’ve awoken from my coma.  The fabric is torn piece of football jersey.  DNA tests should prove it is  Bill Ludlow’s.  He attacked Principal Horowitz and me after we refused to fudge his GPA so he could qualify for a football scholarship.  Such a waste of a bright mind.  He was always smart enough.  Just impromperly motivated.

    “This doesn’t make sense.  If Bill is the murderer, why’d Mrs. Jenkins’ clue call him a hero?” asked Olivia.

    I take my own stab at Bill’s clue, using a calculator as instructed.  

    She hadn’t called him a hero at all.  When I typed in the digits 1 1 3 4 2 0 9, then flipped the calculator upside down the message was clear:

    Go 2 hell.

  9. Birdee0809 says:

    “What’s that?” Vincent said with a mouth full of buttered toast. Leaning forward, he studied the symbols on the paper in front of me from across the table. Among the triangles, half moons and wavy lines were a scattering of letters and numbers. Some were in bold type, some in uppercase, none of it in plain English. Some shapes were shaded; others contained starbursts or other symbols.

    “I got it in the mail it’s a letter in some kind of code.” I said before taking a sip of my coffee.

    “Code, now that sounds like the beginning of an adventure,” Vincent said smiling.

    I smiled at him; he knew I always yearned for a true adventure.

    “It reminds me of the stuff my math teacher used to give us in high school.” Before she disappeared and we never saw her again.

    “Are you going to your twentieth next week? Dad said he’s going,” Vincent stabbed at his breakfast sausage as if he thought it might run away then shoved the link into his mouth.

    “Yes, I talked to him yesterday,” I said. Alex and I were young when I became pregnant and parted before Vincent was born but we started friends and remained that way.

    Our classmates were the same as they were at the last reunion, only balder, fatter and louder or skankier. Steve Freeman, always the square peg in a round peg world, met us at the door and sniffed us loudly then decreed with a flourish of his arm that Alex and I, indeed, belonged. Then he ran off into the crowd.

    “Good God, he fell out of the strange tree and right into the creepy tree.” Alex mumbled from behind me, I nodded silently.

    “Did you figure out your letter?” he asked as we seated ourselves.

    “All I got was something is going to happen here at the reunion, maybe Mrs. Davis is going to show up again,” I said with a shrug.

    By the end of the evening we learned that our entire table had received coded letters. We all had decoded parts, but not all of them and it was clear each held a different message. Alex hadn’t received one though, and we found out through our discussion that he had never been good at solving them in school. We thought that was something only Mrs. Davis would have known; in school we never discussed them because we all felt they were silly and stupid.

    A sudden scream followed by a sickening thud caused us all to jump up and run outside. There on the sidewalk was the broken and bloody heap that used to be Steve Freeman. In his mouth was a crumpled piece of paper. Alex bent and carefully extracted it then shoved it in his pocket.

    Our group left quickly after agreeing to meet up at a local diner. The paper might hold the key to the codes in our letters. Maybe once deciphered, it would contain clues to what happened to Mrs. Davis. Whatever it held, the adventure is just beginning.

  10. Miksoko says:

    “No, you see, it all makes sense! Remember she did this on the first day?”
    Chan stared at me, with a look that told me he wasn’t buying it.
    “Alex, you’re being ridiculous. People can’t come back from the dead.” He shook his head
    “But Chan!” I protested.
    “Alex, just forget about it, and enjoy the reunion.” He steered me to the punch bowl.
    But later in the evening, Rosa approached me.
    “You got it, too, didn’t you.” She held up a letter identical to mine. Rosa had been one of the few girls in our calculus class, but also the smarter than any of us. I knew she’d be able to figure it out. She pointed out to me what she’d gotten so far.
    “Yeah, I remember it, too,” I said when she told me we’d done this puzzle before. It was how we got our seating assignments every quarter. Somewhere on the letter were the initials of another student. A scavenger hunt, sort of. Except the letter was in cipher.
    It took Rosa and me the better part of an hour to figure it out.
    “There! Look where the date should be!” I looked.
    “It looks like a normal date,” I said, handing her letter back.
    “Count the letters! Where the month should be!” I did, recounting twice to make sure.
    “There are eleven letters,” I breathed, as I slowly realized.
    “That’s right!” Rosa exclaimed. She had a gleam in her eye that I remembered from the calculus days, right before an insane test. “The most letters any month has is nine, and that’s in September! The initials are somewhere in there!”
    We compared letters, and sure enough, the last two letters in my ‘month’ differed from hers.
    “J.B.,” I mused, “John Balough!” I tore off through the crowd and saw Rosa do the same.
    There were twenty-seven people in our class, too many to all be in the cipher. I thought about it as I helped John find Chris and Chris find Kate. We were searching for Alan Brady when Rosa found me again.
    “George isn’t here.” Her eyebrows scrunched together and she looked worried.
    “Well, maybe he’s not part of-“
    “He is,” she cut me off. “Luis has his initials.
    “Well, let’s skip him for now.”
    Near the end of the night, we got our calculus class lined up against the wall. It turned out that George was the final letter.
    I pulled out a pen and took down everyone’s initials, crossing them out where they repeated. Then something struck me.
    “Chan! He’s not on the list!”
    “Maybe she was racist,” someone muttered.
    I scanned the crowd, and found him. There was the corner of an envelope sticking out of his pocket. I dashed up to him, snatched it, and ripped the letter out. At the top, it said ‘George.’
    “Chan… why do you have George’s letter?”
    The last thing I remember is a flash of silver and pain in my stomach.
    Much later, I groggily came to. I was in a bed, with Rosa by my side, holding my hand. She gave me a watery smile and explained.
    “It was Chan the whole time. He tried to blackmail Ms. Connelly, and when she threatened to get him expelled, he kidnapped her. He’s been hiding her this whole time.”
    “How’d she get the letters out?”
    “She got away and mailed them before he could catch her. When he found out what she’d done, he…. He killed George and took his letter.”
    Painfully, I reached over and hugged her, whispering in her ear:
    “It’s alright. It’s all over now.”

    • Jeanie Y says:

      Hi Miksoko! Good story. I liked the initial-chase puzzle idea. Neat. I just wonder why she didn’t go to the police when she escaped? Was she an ultimate gamer and could wait for her retribution?

  11. MCKEVIN says:

    “Amen.”
    We said and ended the reunion’s deceased teachers/students prayer. The class officers waved to a sea of blue and gold clad alumnus exiting the auditorium. We’d gathered our belongings to leave when, President Maurice said…

    “I need a word with the cabinet.”
    “About what?” Teresa said.
    “A letter I received from Ms. Knight.”
    “You got one too? Did you understand it?” Secretary Rosalyn asked.
    “No, but let’s not talk here.”

    Our session, was held in the backroom of the auditorium where Ms. Knight previously tutored us. Rumors of a ghostly presence dubbed it, “The Dead Room.”.

    My coded letter doesn’t make sense.” I said.
    “Does any of your letters contain odd questions, like she used to give us?” Maurice asked.
    “Yeah.” Ros said.
    “I’ve wracked my brains and nothing.” I said.

    “Most popular/Class Treasurer” Teresa, sat silent with her arms folded. While reviewing our letters, we remembered “Turn Around Day” was the last time we saw Ms. Knight.

    “She didn’t like being the student and swore revenge.” Maurice remembered.
    “If she’s dead, where did the letters come from?” Teresa asked.
    “Did you get a letter?” I asked.
    “I threw the hoax away. Do you remember the last question Ms. Knight asked you?”
    “Why do psychics have to ask you your name?” I said
    “If Barbie is so popular, why do you have to buy her friends?” Rosayln added.
    What happens if you get scared half to death twice? Said Maurice.

    Teresa looked worried and stood ready to leave.

    “Where are you going?” Maurice asked.
    “I need to go!”
    “C’mon, drinks are on me when we’re finish.” Rosalyn said.
    “I’m finished!”
    “First, tell us about your letter.” I pleaded.

    She looked through us and said…

    “Time is the best teacher; unfortunately it kills all of its students! Can I go now?”
    “That’s not a question.” Maurice stated.
    “Like I don’t’ know that!” Teresa said as she rolled her eyes toward the ceiling.

    CRASH!
    An iron chandelier fell from the ceiling with one of its arms stabbing Teresa through the eyes. We jumped from the table to help her, but the room went black and we heard her body fall to the floor.

    THUMP!

    “Everybody O-“ Maurice asked.
    “No! Help Me! My heart!” Rosalyn screamed.

    I followed her voice. Her shadow dropped knocking over a chair.

    THUMP!

    “Ros, Rosalyn? Are you okay?” I called.

    In darkness, I found her dead and holding her letter..

    “Tracy Trac-“ Maurice’s voice faded.

    I heard footsteps coming toward the door. Police were on stage with flashlights.

    “I’m over here Maurice. Maurice?”

    Maurice’s lifeless silhouette was perched against a wall. I rushed to him.

    “Maurice, you okay? Maurice?”

    I checked for a pulse and found none. He was holding his letter.

    Guns pointed!

    “DON’T MOVE! Put your hands up in the air!”
    “Officers I can explain-“

    I hold out my crumpled letter to show …

    “He’s got a gun!”

    “NO! WAIT!”

    Pop! Pop! Pop!

    Fallen, Police searched me.

    “Oh God, no gun! Just a stupid letter!”

  12. rapidbutterly says:

    Irie hadnt went to many classes when she was in high school,hell she hardly went to school. She wasnt what you would call a joiner. The one class she did show up for was 11th grade math.

    The teacher Ms.Nolan was nice but what really drew her to the class were the cryptic puzzles that she handed out during the begining of class. She almost looked foward to deciphering the newest mystery iMs.Nolan had waiting for them. After spring break Ms.Nolan disappeared, everyone assumed she had been killed. That was the last time Irie showed up for class.

    After so many years Irie could still recognize Ms.Nolans puzzles. Even the emblem in the corner had reminded her of the necklace she had worn. The small yellowing paper had been tucked into an invitation for Iries high school reunion. She figured it was creativity gine wrong.

    The puzzle called out to her. It was harder then the ones she had done in class all tgose years ago but after soon time she had solved it. Irie stared at the paper in disbelief, the messege was ment for her. She read it again” He has me”. Irie started to doubt Ms.Nolan had died.

    • Jeanie Y says:

      Good start rapidbutterfly. You could have kept going as you didn’t come close to the word count! I liked your writing…it has some good emotion to it. I like the fact that a non-joiner could find a reason to come to school…teachers have so much influence on kids.

  13. npryncess says:

    “Ugh! I’m not going!”

    “Oh, come on honey, don’t start that again! You’ll have fun. And no one will be sizing you up for a wide ass. Trust me! Now you’ve got one week to find something amazing to wear and you’ll have me on your arm for a little extra bling. What could go wrong?”

    “No. I’ve made up my mind. These things are always so weird. Didn’t you see Romey and Michelle’s High School Reunion?!”

    “Uh, is that the best you can come up with?!”

    “Mom, this letter was stuck in the screen door for you.”

    “Stuck in the door? Thank you sweetie. Just put it on the dresser.”

    “Mooommm, telephone’s for yooouuu! It’s Miss Barbaraaaa.”

    “Hey Barb! How’s it…”

    “Monica, did you get a weird letter delivered to your house tonight?!”

    “Well, a letter was in the front door. I don’t know about weird…I haven’t opened it yet. Why? Did you get one too?”

    “Yeah. Get it! Open it!”

    “It’s just a paper with a bunch of circles, lines and arrows on…wait…that’s weird. There’s a signature at the bottom…Siebels. And then 9/28 @ 9:28.”

    “Mine too!”

    “What da?”

    “The only Siebels I know is our old 12th grade math teacher.”

    “Yeah, I remember her. But she’s been dead since before we graduated.”

    “But remember she was always giving us those crazy puzzles to solve? Just like this one!”

    “Barb, what…she rose from the dead in time for our reunion?! It’s just a prank, I’m sure.”

    “Maybe you’re right. But I was on our Facebook reunion page and at least 40 other people got the same note.”

    “There you have it. It’s just a joke to create a buzz at the reunion. Probably that nutcase Darren. You know he was always up to no good!”

    “Well, I guess we’ll find out next week.”

    “No. YOU will find out next week. I’m not going.”

    “Whaddaya mean you’re not going?!”

    “I’m not going! I can’t be bothered with everybody trying to see who’s got the biggest diamond, the best looking husband and kids, the most impressive business card. Nah, I’ve got better things to do.”

    “Monica, you’ve got to go! This is the first major event since my divorce. I can’t go in there alone! You’re my best friend, you’ve gotta be there with me!”

    “Sigh. No fair playing the divorce card, but okay, I’ll go just for you!”

    “Oooooh, Monica, Barbara, is that you?! Oh! Who’s handsome husband is this?!”

    “Bruce, meet, uh..”

    “Beverly Rooney! Pleased to meet you!”

    “Well, it’s 9:15. We’d better sit down. The keynote speaker is about to start.”

    “Who’s speaking? Oh, and did you bring your letter? Everybody is talking about it!”

    “Mr. Bell is speaking and no, I didn’t bring that silly letter.”

    “Who’s Mr. Bell?”

    “You remember…he finished up the year after Mrs. Siebels died.”

    “Oh, that’s right. Wow! He looks the same!”

    “Good evening everyone! You all look so wonderful! I’m Mrs. Siebels…”

  14. Erick Jacobs says:

    I had spent the prior night praying the heifer would die. It would have made my life so much simpler. Ok, maybe praying for her death was slightly harsh, but I was at least wishing severe malice to befall her. Either via a dire virus or breaks in load-bearing bones, whichever, sufficed.

    Imagine my surprise – panicked horror really – the following morning when I walked into class and assistant principal Plattic was sitting in Mrs. Blauir’s chair. We sat attentively, D-halls and ISS sentences were his specialty, as he told the class the unthinkable news. Mr. Sombra entered a few minutes later.
    “Apologies, Doug, can you finish up with the police?”
    Principal Sombra pulled out a chair. Long in the face, he gazed around the classroom – uncomfortable silence – then began.
    “As you all are aware…”

    Counselors hung around for a few weeks, and some students switched classes. I stayed. A marbled, etched memorial was placed at the entrance of West Jacinto H.S. – a daily reminder I didn’t need.
    Nothing came of the investigation. Relatives, friends, acquaintances, along with one area sex offender were questioned and released. No nothing … just poof into thin air. Upon graduation the investigation mirrored the memorial out front, a cold case.

    The 20 year reunion notice came in the mail Friday. I hadn’t ventured to reunions prior so why would this year be any different. I tossed it in the trash can. On the evening’s news, there was a side story on new information being brought forward on the West Jacinto cold case. That person was imploring others to do the same. I clicked off the TV and went to bed.

    My letter came Saturday – stuffed between the power and cable bills – with no return address. After opening, it was obvious someone had been watching way too much DaVinci Code. I humored the letter. Disbelief followed. I scoured the trash can for the invite and acknowledged my attendance.

    Tucking the letter inside my sport coat, I walked inside past the cracked memorial and memories. I placed the ‘Hello my name is…’ sticker above my breast pocket. The class had very much thinned over the years. As hours passed I bumped into old friends, talked the typical BS, but no one once brought up the letter or its contents. As I walked to the refreshment table, someone grabbed my arm.
    “We need to talk Devin.”
    “Jim, is that you?”
    He walked me to a quiet corner.
    “Did, you get one of these?”
    “No, what is it?”
    “Don’t lie! You’re never here and now… You got one.”
    “I did.”
    “That makes damn near 30 of us.”
    “What are you talking about?”
    “Doesn’t matter now, the letters feed off one another. Give me yours.”
    “Is she alive?”
    Jim read.
    “I/WISH/YOU/DEAD/AT/MIDNIGHT”
    “Unbelievable, what time is it?”
    “11:29, why? What did yours’ say?”
    “11:30.”

    There was a flutter of light and frigidness. Jim fell dead.

    I sat, listening to my heart beating in unison with the seconds ticking away.

  15. DMelde says:

    “Maybe she didn’t die but became deathlike, you know, like when death drives his black Cadillac down the lonesome highway of life.”
    “What the fuck Brandon? What kind of bullshit is that? I can’t believe it. Black Cadillac? Lonesome highway of life? I’m dumber just hearing that.”
    “You can’t get any dumber Mikey!”
    “Hey, I was in the same advanced math class as you were turd!”
    “You were the class anchor! You didn’t know a derivative from a denominator!”
    “Nobody did imaginaries better than me!”
    “They weren’t imaginaries, just your imagination!”
    “Shut up, both of you!” Jessica commanded.
    “Look, all I’m saying is maybe Ms. Noether isn’t dead,” Brandon pleaded, “maybe she’s just been lying low. Look at the clues someone sent us. The same rice paper, calligraphy writing, and cryptic symbols she used when she was our teacher.”
    “She died at the end of the school year.” A calmer Mikey said. “All of us went to her funeral. This classroom was the last place we saw her alive. No, you’re wrong. We’re being punked, and we’re here trying to figure it out. So let’s do that so we can get back to the gym and enjoy our class reunion.”
    “Okay, smartass, then how do you explain it?”
    Screeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeech. Everyone’s skin crawled as fingernails dragged slowly across the chalkboard. All three turned towards the sound.
    “Hello class.” Ms. Noether said. “Don’t look so surprised boys! Jessica, your cold smile tells me you haven’t lost your edge. Of course, you always were the strong one.”
    “You’re dead!” Mikey exclaimed.
    “Dead? That all depends on when you see me, don’t you think?” Ms. Noether replied, “We don’t have much time class. I’ve come to help. Does everyone have their rice paper?”
    “Yes, but-“
    “Shh, Mikey all will become clear. Put your paper in your hand and make a fist, then put your fists together.”
    Ms. Noether cradled their hands in hers.
    “While we wait I’ll explain. I searched for years before I found this school and the portal. Years later, I found all of you would become the guardians, so that’s when I became your teacher.”
    “Wait? For what? What portal? Guardians of what?” Jessica asked.
    “We wait for the marking and First Power. Does everyone remember the clearing exercise we did before each class?”
    “Yes.”
    “Good. Clear your minds.”
    As her students cleared their minds the rice paper burned their hands. Slowly the heat subsided. The air around them crackled as electricity arced through the air.
    “First Power.” Ms. Noether said, “Raw and consuming, you’ll learn how to control it later. The portal is about to open over in the gym. The invaders think they’ve trapped school mice. Imagine their surprise when they encounter First Power wolves instead. Jessica, lead your team and kill whatever comes through. Let First Power guide you.”
    “My team?” Jessica asked.
    “Each of you was given three symbols. The symbols choose their mate.”
    Ms. Noether turned over Jessica’s hand. There, burned into her palm, was Alpha.

  16. JWLaviguer says:

    “Time Flies”

    My favorite math teacher in high school, Miss Portage, disappeared our senior year. Nobody had a clue what happened to her, not even the police or the FBI. There was no evidence of foul play at her apartment…no evidence of anything. She just…disappeared.

    Tonight, 25 years later, five of us are sitting at the same table, all former students of Miss Portage, all of us with the same letter. All it said was “Today is greater than yesterday, but less than tomorrow.”

    “If I have to read this one more time,” I said, “I’m gonna have to drop some acid so I can understand it.”

    “Who do you think sent this to all of us?” June said.

    “Probably those band geeks we used to laugh at,” Mark said.

    “I remember getting laughed at, too, Mark.” I replied. “We were all dedicated to that math club.”

    “You were dedicated to trying to get a look up Miss Portage’s skirt,” John laughed.

    He wasn’t lying. To this day, I still have a secret fantasy I keep in a locked drawer in the back of my mind that I pull out every now and then when I need to relieve some stress.

    “I wasn’t the only one,” I replied. “You could have heard a pin drop that day she got chalk dust on her blouse. I swear, time stood still watching her try to rub the chalk off of her breasts.” Okay, I admit it, that memory still gets me flustered.

    I was about to go buy us another round when I caught someone out of the corner of my eye. My jaw dropped to the floor and my knees almost gave out on me. I had to put my hands on the table to keep from falling over.

    “Oh my GOD!” I gasped. “It can’t be…but…holy fuck.”

    Everybody stopped their conversations and turned to look. It was our (my) Miss Portage, alive and well, and just as beautiful as the last day we saw her. She hadn’t aged a bit!

    She came over to our table and sat down. “I’ll bet you’re all wondering how I’m here,” she began.

    We were all too shocked to do anything but nod slowly.

    “I found a portal, a kind of wormhole, and I’ve been traveling backwards and forwards in time. The most amazing thing is, that when I come back through to what is my present, I find I haven’t aged a day, no matter how long I spend in another time.”

    We all needed that drop of acid now. We spent the next 5 hours drinking, laughing, and listening in awe as she regaled us with tales of her adventures.

    “So,” she concluded, “who wants to go first?”

  17. Jeanie Y says:

    Oh, I just re-read the re-read of the re-read. I made it sound like it is the brother, which I didn’t intend. The brother was supposed to be a good guy. His wife a jerk. The killer is a prominent person who works at the school…oh well. Hope it was an interesting read anyhow…

  18. bl4kr0z3 says:

    I snuck a peek in the darkened hallways, taking extra care no one had followed us, and shut the door. The sound of the loud, bass-jumping music coming from the Lunchroom-turned-ballroom was muffled behind the tightly sealed door. Everyone took a seat in their usual spots, the four of us scattered around the room; it had been nearly 10 years since we had been here last.
    Being in here once again brought back a feeling of nostalgia. I took a short look around. Everything had changed, the chart papers of mathematical equations, that hung on the walls, had been taken down and replaced with charts of the elements. Even the paint on the wall, which was once an array of fiery reds, yellows, and blues were now a dull hospital-like white color.
    I felt a slight temperature change in the air, as a soft breeze kissed my cheek and lightly lifted my red dress, revealing my tanned thigh. Pulling my eyes away from the chalkboard directly in front of me, I turned my gaze to Adrian.

    “Stop it,” I whispered at him, glaring.

    “Stop what? I didn’t do anything,” he replied, giving me his most innocent puppy dog eyes, which with his looks usually got him away with anything. “What are we waiting for anyway?”

    I sighed, “You know what we’re waiting for. Just be patient.” I walked over to the teacher’s desk taking a seat on top, my legs crossed, my eyes on the troublemaker of the group. For once I could understand how he felt, my own patience was running thin. This was taking longer then expected. People might realize we were missing.

    A light knock on the wooden door startled us all out of our thoughts. Slowly, I walked to the door, opening it a crack to ensure it hadn’t been anyone who didn’t belong. After realizing who it was I grabbed him by the neck of his shirt, pulled him in and slammed him against the door.

    “Do you have it?” I growled at him.

    “Y-yes,” he stuttered in reply.

    “Wow, talk about ‘having patience’,” I heard Adrian mutter from behind me, followed by a chuckle. I glared at him, once again, before turning my attention back to the task at hand.

    “Show it to me.” The kid in nodded, whimpering in my hold. He maneuvered his hand into his back pocket and produced a locket. I snatched the locket form his grasp and swung the kid aside, opening it I found the last ingredient for the spell to work- a lock of Mr. Gryffin’s (yeah total Harry Potter reference) dark brown hair.

    Mr. Gryffin had been our high school math teacher, he had mysteriously disappeared when we were 16. Everyone thought he was dead, I didn’t believe it, I couldn’t believe. A week ago, I received a letter; it was short, literally. It had been a letter written by Mr. Gryffin, I had more then strong feeling that it was, simply because the letter had been written in shorthand. All it had said was that he needed my help, he was trapped and that he’d sent letters to the others with clues as to how to free him. I was angry at that.

    I should’ve been enough. I could’ve done it on my own, I was stronger then the others, I could’ve saved him by myself.

    I shook my head of the angry thoughts that threatened to take over, getting Mr. Gryffin safe was the number one priority. “Everybody give me what you have.” In each had a letter had been produced, laid safely on the desk. I picked up the first one reading it aloud.

    There are four brothers in this world that were all born together.
    The first runs and never wearies.
    The second eats and is never full.
    The third drinks and is always thirsty.
    The fourth sings a song that is never good.

    We’d pondered over what the meaning of the poem had been for hours until I’d heard the wind blow through the creak in the window. “That’s it,” I shouted. “Adrian, you’re a genius.”

    Adrian stared at me shocked. Whether it was to the fact that someone had called placed the words “Adrian” and “genius” in the same sentence or the fact that it was me that called him a genius, I didn’t know. “Umm, I am. I mean, yeah I am. But what did my awesome self do this time.”

    I stared at him incredulous. Rolling my eyes I, finally, spoke. “You sang a song that wasn’t good.” I looked at each one of them, their eyes fixed on me as if I was crazy. Sighing, for what seemed like the millionth time, I first turned my gaze to Julie. “What runs but is never tired?”

    A light seemed to click in Julie’s eyes and almost as if on cue, droplets of rain danced into the room and hovered in front of all five of us, “Water.”

    I turned next to Max, “What drinks but is always thirsty?”

    Again almost as if on cue, bits of grass and leaves entered through the window combining itself with the water still dancing in front of us. “Earth,” he whispered.

    Turning to Adrain, I spoke, “Sing us a song that is never good, pretty boy.” Adrian smiled, and I could feel the temperature drop as the air swirled around us.

    Smiling I continued, “And what eats but is never full?” I grabbed a small lighter from my purse, even though I didn’t smoke, fire was always my element, I needed a piece of it everywhere I went. Clicking it open I pulled on the flicker of light, combining the flame with the three elements already swirling around the room; Water, Earth, Air, and Fire.

    We had the first piece figured out; one down two to go.

  19. Jeanie Y says:

    It doesn’t matter how old you are, when death greets you with his icy cold fingers extended, you turn your head, try to deny him. It was the taste of dirt and the loss of hope of being found that led me to shake his glacial hand. At least the physical pain was over for me, but not for those I left behind. Emotional pain becomes physical when the bond is strong.

    “Go toward the light,” the voices murmured.

    “Oh, I am not ready…” I murmured back. The pain gone, replaced by crushing desolation.

    And anger.

    _______________________________________________________________________________

    “She has had these visions every night since her mother died,” Angela said.

    “Don’t you think I know? I hear her crying too,” David replied, his kind hands wringing in frustration. He knew where she was going with this.

    “We have been to every shrink in town, David. She is broke and no one can fix her. If you won’t say it, I will. I know she is your sister’s kid and all, but I don’t want her around our children. There is something wrong with her.”

    “So, we just send her…where? She is nine years old, Angie, nine. Yes, it has been almost five years, but, well, she was so close with her mother, it was just the two of them, it is almost like she lost a part of herself that night. I am not ready to give up on her.”

    “I can’t live with this much longer, David. I really can’t.”

    _______________________________________________________________________________

    “Amy, honey, I know we have tried to talk about this before, but we really need to talk about it again. Dr. Bob says you won’t feel better until you tell us what you see that makes you cry.”

    “Momma says it is almost time. She says that she will go away soon. I don’t want her to go away, Uncle Dave.”

    “You see your mother? Why have you never told me this before?”

    “Momma told me not to tell. She tells me stories to help me stop crying. She can’t stay long, but she stays long enough to make me feel better. She also told me to show you these papers, and that you would know what to do with them. I don’t want momma to go away, but she says she has to.”

    “Oh my God.”
    ___________________________________________________________________________________

    Amy was just young enough to still believe in the unbelievable. The first night I came to her, I couldn’t stay long, but I made sure she knew I would be back. We worked on those puzzles for years, she was my little scribe and my salvation. It is so hard to stay here and I am so tired. I think Amy is big enough now to let me go.

    David mailed out the puzzles, just as instructed, right before the five year reunion. My big brother is a wonderful man and I intend to pay him a visit before I go.

    His wife Angela too.

    Why not just tell where I am? Well, that would be just too easy…and I want him to squirm as they all figure out their puzzles, which they will, such a smart bunch of kids I had. I will be found soon, with his DNA underneath my fingernails.

    He will be watching, as he always does…and he will know that I am coming for him.

    • bl4kr0z3 says:

      That was really good, like the prologue to something that could make a GREAT story. If it continued straight through this would’ve been great, was it the word count problem?

    • Jeanie Y says:

      Oh, I just re-read the re-read of the re-read. I made it sound like it is the brother, which I didn’t intend. The brother was supposed to be a good guy. His wife a jerk. The killer is a prominent person who works at the school…oh well. Hope it was an interesting read anyhow…

      • Wendy2020 says:

        It deifinitely was an very interesting read, and a totally unique take on the prompt. Maybe if you gave the character you were coming after a name, it would avoid the confusion.

        Also, would love a glimpse into what at least one of the puzzles said. Any idea?

        • Jeanie Y says:

          Thanks Wendy. I stink at puzzles, so I tried to avoid having to think about them! ha! Giving him a name would have been a great idea since he could still be mysterious…good idea.

    • Birdee0809 says:

      Well done Jeanie! So mysterious and I love the scene changes back and forth.

    • Ishmael says:

      Jeanie -

      You probably won’t see this…I’ve only had stolen moments of free time this week (and for the next few), but I had one of those moments right now and wanted to read a couple of offerings. This was a tough prompt anyway, and I applaud all who even participated.

      You know, even though your story was a little ambiguous and just a tad difficult to follow, it was SO well-written. Every sentence was a pleasure…the paragraphing was excellent…word choices…phrasing…concept – such a delight. The scene changes? I liked the abruptness. Like a TiVo fast-forward. It only came apart at the very end for me…I didn’t know who she was referring to, and I didn’t think it was David since he was a wonderful man. And since Angela was a jerk, which the isolation of the pay-her-a-visit-too sentence insinuates, making her the killer would’ve pulled it together a little more.

      One thought (something that I do): Speak your dialogue aloud to yourself (as the character). Does it sound and flow naturally for that person? It seems like more contractions could have been used for Dave and Amy (Dave’s discussion with Angie, some of Amy’s with Dave). It would free up some words to use elsewhere. And, since her body has yet to be found, Mom’s only been assumed dead. With Amy’s disclosure of her visits from her, Dave might have been more like, “You’ve seen your mother? She’s alive? Why haven’t you told me this?”

      I really loved the direction you took this prompt.

      • Jeanie Y says:

        Hey Bubeleh! :)

        You’re the best! I was hoping you would stop by…you always offer such great advice/help and always in the nicest way.

        It stinks that life gets in the way of the weekly prompt…hope you post soon!

        Once again, thanks for the advice and taking the time to read my post. I can see a few spots in which it would sound more normal with contractions…esp. from a kid. I will add that technique to my cut rate, but hopefully improving, editing skills!

        Speaking of editing…I am looking for a children’s book editor. Would you know a good one or know how I would go about finding one?

        Try not to work too hard, and come back to us soon! :)

        • Ishmael says:

          Jeanie – I looked for a story from you this week, but there wasn’t one, so I’m leaving this info here for you. Leave a note if/when you get this, so I’ll know. The editor I work with does not do children’s books (I write literary fiction), but I do know a lady who writes them and gave me a couple of spots for you to check out:

          resourcesforchildrenswriters.com & scbwl.org

          She swears by these two sites. Also, I’ve been thinking about your daughter, and wanted to direct her to this site that another friend’s daughter (16 y/o) visits:

          youngwritersonline.net

          She should pursue it! Hope this helps. :)

          • Jeanie Y says:

            Hi Ishmael,

            Got it! I am especially happy to get the online site for my daughter. I think she should be hanging out with her own age group. (Real reason…kid’s better than me…gotta run her outta town!) Seriously, I also don’t want anyone to feel the need to pull back their story if they think a kid might be reading it, you know?

            Thanks for all your help. I will check out those sites and get this rolling. I have read my story to a few elementary classes and they liked it…Hey Mikey! :) One teacher handed out the text (each got a different page) and they did the illustration for their page. The pictures they came up with were so good. It was fun.

            Sorry for rambling. Thanks again!

            P.S. My story for this week…Aphrodite with a magic cube just did not want to be written. ugh. Depending on the prompt, I take so long to write these things that I think I need writers Viagra. Seems like I am only decent with sad, emotional stuff which is weird because that is not my personality at all. Sorry, rambling again.

            Thanks again Ishmael!

    • DBS says:

      Great suspense in the first segments and a really fun one to read. The “he” at the end did also throw me briefly, but based on your previous descriptions of David, I was able to put 2 and 2 together. Would definitely like to see what happens next…

  20. laurentravian says:

    I leaned against the door to our old classroom. I exhaled, and reread the letter. Decoded, it said, “Class reunion time. Pop Quiz. ALSO, what happened to Mr. Frankweiler” I didn’t like Mr. Frankweiler. His breath smelled horrible, he always barked into my face, and he gave us puzzles, as “teasers”. I always got them wrong, and then I got yelled at. SAT’s were mentioned. Parents brought in. All because of those stupid puzzles. To be fair, it wasn’t my fault. I didn’t understand the code he put the letters in. But last night, I reread the letter until midnight, looking at codes online, and thinking through the past exercises. The code is a-1, b-2 etc. I felt kind of dumb when I figured it out. But at least I got it this time. I took a deep breath and pushed open the door. My entire old class was there. A hooded figure stood at the board. “Sit down!” I rasped. It reminded me of what happened to Mr. Frankweiler. He apparently disappeared on the night of a big pop quiz. Some people thought I did him in. I didn’t, of course. The police questioned me. I was let go, they had no evidence of anything. The next day, a perky blonde woman was in his spot. I passed the year with flying colors. All because of those puzzles, or lack thereof. I sat down in my old seat, jerked back to the present. On the desk was a pop quiz. “Roll call!” rasped the figure at the front. “Josh Atterbury!” “Present!” yelped a slick lawyer. “Marian Brunswick!” “Present!” squeaked the famed mystery writer. “Tina Coastal!” “Present!” said the cosmetologist, snapped out of her modern reverie of gossip with ‘the old gang’. And so it went, until my name was called. “Rosemary Zinniad!” I glowered at the hooded figure and revived my old retort, special for Mr. Frankweiler. “Why don’t you put it in a code?” They all gasped. Like they used to. The hooded figure nodded, and commanded us to turn over our papers. We all did so, and started the test. ‘Question 1: True or False, Marian had a crush on Frankweiler.’ I looked over at her. ‘True.’ I wrote. On and on, I wrote, until I finished the test. It was all about us. The last question, “Rosemary Zinniad A: murdered Mr. Frankweiler. B: passed the year because of Mr. Frankweiler’s old notes on her. C: brought everyone back together.” I was stunned. I penciled in B. The figure collected the tests. “You all passed. So you all get to find out what happened to Frankweiler.” it said quietly. “You see…” I leapt up, and said, “You just left! For no reason! Why?” I burst into tears. I felt him give me a hug. “Because I didn’t get custody.” I cried into Daddy’s arms.

  21. ultimatefrisbeegirl says:

    As I stared at the letter my thoughts flashed back to my sophomore year of high school and Ms. Harps, our math teacher. Frizzy gray hair and twinkling eyes came to mind, and puzzles. She was always giving us puzzles. I had never been good at math, or puzzles for that matter, so hadn’t paid much attention to them. This was different though, and now I wished I could solve it as easily as Brett Thorpe always had.

    My heartbeat quickened as my eyes roved over the words, written in her familiar scrawl. She had disappeared for almost fourteen years with not a single trace–but here this was, a week before another high school reunion.

    “I actually stalk alpines,” it read, then, “Casper Herman will knot yam’s strings…only try eating
    “Ms. Harps”

    What was that supposed to mean, and why was Casper Herman mentioned? He was a skinny, black-eyed boy from her class, still skinny fourteen years later, still creepy. Why?

    A week later, the eighth of September, I pulled into the crowded parking lot of the Barking Crab in downtown Newport, nowhere closer to the solution. Checking my lip glass one last time I stepped out and saw Brett Thorpe moving toward the door, his steps quick and jerky…uncharacteristic. He saw me and changed direction. “Linda,” he said, voice strained.

    “Hello Brett,” I said as he stopped in front of me. Why did he still make me feel fluttery and awkward? I didn’t have time to think about that though, because just then he unfolded a wrinkled letter from his pocket–identical to mine. “Brett,” I said, “Where did you get that?” His brown eyes met mine. “You have one too?”

    “Yes,”

    “Did you figure it out?”

    “Well…-,”

    “Brett, Linda!” A voice interrupted us. We both turned as Sarah Malone walked up, sporting six inch stilettos and a sequin mini skirt. She had always looked perfect, always would. “What’s new?” she said, tossing her straight brown hair over one shoulder. “Sarah, we’re in trouble,” said Brett. “Did you get a letter from Ms. Harps?”

    She took a copy out of her hot pink purse in response. “I didn’t figure it out though-,”

    “I did,” said Brett.

    “Come on Brett,” I said, getting a little nervous, “What’s the matter? Why are we in trouble?”

    He smoothed out his letter and held it out in the center. The first letter of each word was highlighted with pen. “What does it say…?” I muttered, trying to put the letters together. “I Am Still Alive,” read Sarah, amaze in her voice. “Casper Herman Will,” I continued, “Kill You Seven On The Eighth,” finished Brett.

    My head snapped up and Sarah gasped, “The Seven Skillful Scholars.” That was the name of the group we had formed in high school–Brett, Sarah, I… “We have to warn the others,” I said.

    “Warn them about what?” said a voice behind us. We spun around to find Caspar Herman standing there, a wicked smile on his face.

  22. ggbrown says:

    Coming home from a long night of planning how to get revenge on my enemies, I found a letter attatched to my door. The letter said, well, I’m not sure what it said, it was in some kind of code or shorthand or something. I walked into my house at the end of a long dirt road in the middle of the corn field farmed by my grandfather. Tin roof, white fenced in porch, with an old dog laying in his spot at the corner of fence, near the old rocking chair I like to sit in on still sundays.

    I put the letter down where I put everything down when I come home, and see the reunion notice next to the letter and remember, ” ohh, thats like the code stuff Mrs Alsup used to have us try to solve in highschool.” I never could solve those things. I’ll take it to the reunion and see if there are any of those eggheads there that were so good at that type of thing.

    A day goes by and the reunion arrives with me in it. I walk up to the nerdiest cat I can remeber. ” Hey Phil, remember me?” Yea, I remember you, your that guy that was always getting the teacher to keep talking so we wouldn’t have to do any work. Thanks bud, I don’t remember your name though.” “Dax.” “Oh yea, Dax how are you? ” I’m good I guess, just working for a living. What do you do Phil?” “I’m an analyst for the government right now….” Dax interupts, ” thats awesome, Hey, I got this letter the other day.” I hand Phil the letter and he smiles. Phil say’s, ” I’ve got one of those, looks like Mrs Alsup is alive. ”

    We never fgound out what happened to Mrs Alsup that senior year. There were rumors of course, but never any facts about the case. Thats why I got into revenge planning, because she always had trouble with her husband at the time and no one ever did anything about it. We live in a small town and Mrs Alsup was married to the chief of police. He’s still the chief, and she is still missing.

    I ask Phil if he can make out what the letter say’s. He thinks it say’s, ” kaboom ” we all start looking for a bomb until my ex Janet comes over with a letter in her hand shouting, “Mrs Alsup is alive!” I ask Janet if she knows what the letter say’s, and she tells me that it say’s, “The broom!” I remember when we were in her class, that when ever we were in trouble she would have us sweep the room with this broom that she brought from home that, litteraly, said on it in bold letters, ” The Broom.”

    We went to her old class, and found that old broom in her closet. We can’t believe it’s still there. We pull the broom from the closet and look it over top to bottom. I dont see anything out of the ordinary until I decide to unscrew it from the base. As I turn the handle from the sweeper I hear a tic, tic, tic. I’ts not coming loose, but it is changing color. With every turn and tic, the black handle turn’s just a little more transparent. I notice the shadow of the handle begin to become more defined in the figure on the floor. Finnaly we can see that it reads, “wrap the code here”. We wrap one of our letters around the handle and put it to the light. The message changes to, “If your reading this, it’s your 10 year reunion. I had these letters at my sisters with the exressed direction for them to be sent out at this time. There should be four of you. You four always were special. I’m not in trouble. I’m in Heaven. The door to Heaven is through the closet. Fit the broom into the slot in the closet wall. Heaven is not what you think. Come in with caution, there is a war going on. You will change upon arrival. Your old enough now.

  23. SJMcGowanwrites says:

    Sister Joseph Marie was not particularly well liked, at least not by most students in her class, but there were a few students who admired her skills with geometric puzzles, and it was Amy who appreciated them the most. “I understand her irritability” Amy told her friends, “and I know she never smiles, but I believe she is a good person.” Amy thought that Sister Joseph always looked worried.

    The stark halls of Saint Claire for Girls smelled of books and pencils, rulers and protractors, especially when you walked into Sister Joseph’s geometry class. The sister had a favorite phase she would say after describing a geometry problem. She would look up and say, “It’s all geometric.” One day the students entered the class to find a substitute teacher, Sister Marie.

    “I am curious about Sister Joseph?” said Amy, as she approached Sister Marie. “Well, Amy, Sister has taken ill, and she is in a hospital in another state. I am your new teacher. Amy politely said thanks, said a prayer, and walked home.

    It wasn’t until a year after graduation that Amy and three of her friends, Christine, Joyce, and Vivian each received mysterious unsigned letters with no return addresses. Their class reunion was a week away, but who wrote the letters? Amy opened her letter and it contained a geometric pattern with some writing.

    Like patterns in a quilt you will find symmetry and congruence,
    You will find what needs to be found,.
    It’s all geometric.

    The girls decided to take a walk to the library to search for ideas and investigate the design. The word north was written on two of them and west on the other two. Amy thought they were directional and she tried to remember where she had seen the design. Then Amy said “It is North by North west” “Like the old Alfred Hitchcock movie. We must travel northwest.”

  24. Sinem Keleman says:

    Just realized a typo;

    “I still remember that day when they finally decided to make a ceremony for her few days after SHE was declared dead. “

  25. Sinem Keleman says:

    “From Ms.Clarc”.

    This is what was written on the envelope I was holding with shaking hands.This is surely a silly joke I thought. She was one of the most loved teachers in school, no matter her subject being maths. I still remember that day when they finally decided to make a ceremony for her few days after we was declared dead. She’s been missing for 5 years. I was then 12. 7 years have passed since then and her name has never been mentioned again. She has never been found and nobody knew what happened to her but there was a certain hidden belief that it surely was something bad.

    I carefully opened the envelope. There was nothing inside but a piece of paper. “ Apple, Pear, Nut”. This is what was written on it. It was a puzzle. Ms.Clarc loved giving puzzles as homework. She believed that stimulating the brain to find a hidden answer can improve making quick switches in the point of view, which would help the students to find solutions much easier in complicated maths problems. I’ve fold the letter and got it into my pocket. It was nearly 8 pm and I had only half an hour to be on time for the reunion.

    When I arrived to the parking of the school, Kurt and Sarah was standing next to the pavement, talking in a way like there was something going on. I locked my car, checked it several times if it was good locked or not and went beside them. When I came, they were just looking at me in the eye. I could nearly say I saw glimpses of fear. They didn’t speak a word. They handed me two pieces of paper. Our eyes met each other, which they saw the fear in mine as well. They understood that I knew what they were. It was written “Cherry,carrot” on one of them and “Parsley, gourd” on the other.

    “A family member of Ms.Clarc wants us to do her grocery shopping it seems” I said, knowing that it was one of the silliest jokes I have ever made. I wouldn’t be thinking so when we was going to find out during that night that 2 other friends, Rachel and Bart had similar letters as well. The scene was as following when we have put all the little pieces together :

    “Apple, pear, nut, cherry, carrot, parsley, gourd, onion, aster, rose, tulip, lily.”

    Our confused eyes met each other.

    “What the hell does that mean?” shouted Kurt, smashing his fist to his head as how he always does when he gets confused. I can’t say our silence was due to brainstorming but it was broken when Sarah screamed out jumping;

    “Fruits, Vegetables, Flowers!!”

    “Yes they are…and?” asked Rachel

    “Come on guys! Don’t you still get it? Fruits, Vegetables, Flowers!! The Einstein Puzzle!! The Gardens! Five friends having five gardens, growing three kind of crops!! We have to find five locations!”

  26. lionsn09 says:

    Here is my try:

    My high school math teacher disappeared when I was sixteen years old, but now I have reason to believe she’s not dead. A week ago before my high school reunion, I received a mysterious letter that appears to be in code—much like the puzzles she once gave her students. Now, at the reunion, I discover that several of my classmates have received similar letters, each a piece to the puzzle. After the reunion dinner, the classmates adjourn to the library in an attempt to break the code. The clues are below:
    My first is in fish, but not in snail
    My second is in lion but not in tail
    My third is in apex, but not in base
    My fourth is in glass, but not in case
    My fifth is in rat, but not in mouse
    My sixth is in inside, but not in the house
    Seventh and eighth are double still
    And my ninth is in elate, but not the thrill.
    Find the whole to find me.

    Sitting in the book-filled room, we discuss our disillusioned youth and the evasive answers we received when the teacher disappeared. Were we up to the task of solving the mysterious puzzle? Did we want to?
    As we mulled over the clues, curiosity got the best of us. Of course, we would team up and solve the mystery.
    Six long hours later, we had a solution, “Fox Grille”, but what was the meaning?
    After a search on the i-phone, a Fox Grille was located in the next county. Everyone piled into a van and made the short trip.
    Upon entering the restaurant, we found a middle-aged, gray woman serving the customers. She had a vague look of familiarity. As we were seated, I openly stared at her.
    She looked at each one of us and smiled. She said, “Congratulations, you have solved the puzzle. I have missed each of you, and thought this would be a fun way to get together.”
    The gaping open mouths and stunned looks on our faces, made her laugh. Was it really our missing high school math teacher?
    As she sat at the table, her explanation began. She had entered the witness protection program after testifying against her gangster husband. He had now been executed and she was safe to renew her past life. She had felt terrible leaving so suddenly and wanted to see all of us again and discover what we have done with our lives.

  27. Icabu says:

    As the music stopped, he switched to the woman at his left.

    “Ashley Williams,” she said into his ear. “Was Abrams.”

    “Brad,” he responded. “Brad Ward.”

    Ashley giggled. “Didn’t they used to call you Wart?”

    “Yes,” he replied blandly. “I think I’ve outgrown that.”

    Her gaze swept over him. It felt almost physical.

    “I believe you have,” she concluded, stepping closer as they danced.

    “What have you been up to since graduation?” he asked.

    “I didn’t get too far. I teach math here at good ol’ Meadowbrook High. Junior algebra.”

    His shoulders stiffened automatically at the mention of that math class. “Jean Templeton’s class?”

    Ashley nodded. “I don’t plan to disappear like she did.”

    They danced quietly.

    “Do you remember those painful worksheets she always had us do?” Ashley asked.

    “Yeah.”

    “About a week ago, I got a letter in the mail. I swear it was one of her worksheets.” They had stopped dancing. “Strange thing is, I felt compelled to do it. It was as strange as all of them.”

    “Do you have it with you?”

    She smiled sheepishly. “Yeah. It’s in my purse.”

    Brad scanned the decorated gymnasium for anyone else he had Templeton’s class with. Sighting two, he turned Ashley so she could see them. “Get your worksheet. Bring it to the table there,” he pointed, “with Randy and Luther.”

    At the table, three worksheets were produced.

    “Mine’s question thirty-one,” Randy said, tapping his paper. “Answer’s thirty-seven minutes, zero seconds. The cryptogram read: LONG division is the way to go.” He looked at the others. “Weird or what?”

    “I had my geek son figure this one out. Couldn’t bring myself to do another of these,” Luther said. “It’s question sixty-five. Answer’s forty-three minutes, zero seconds. Whatever that means. Weirdo message is: LAT pulls make big shoulders.”

    “I didn’t have a numbered problem,” Ashley said. “Just two tricky equations. Came up with an ordered pair – three and five. I plotted them here.” She tapped her paper. “The cryptic message says: Your direction pleases.” She shrugged.

    Brad didn’t include his paper. The equations worked out to a phone number that was very familiar to him. It explained much about Ms. Templeton.

    Brad studied the papers and the pieces quickly fell into place. “Do any of you have a GPS in your car?”

    “I do,” Randy said proudly. “In my Beemer.”

    “Let’s go,” Brad said. He couldn’t have them in his Company car and they’d surely follow him out.

    Brad punched in coordinates deduced from the papers. When the GPS zoomed to the location, his heart stumbled.

    “Where in hell’s that?” Luther asked.

    “Looks like the Middle East,” Randy said.

    Ashley gasped.

    Quickly, Brad erased the coordinates. “I have to go,” he said, exiting the car. Ashley caught his arm.

    “Be careful,” she said, brushing a light kiss across his lips.

    In his own car, Brad dialed the number from his paper. “Agent Ward,” he said. “I have a distress message.”

    “Name?” came from the phone.

    “Templeton. Agent Jean Templeton.”

  28. Autumn says:

    (I know this is a day late, but I had some writer’s block on this one).

    We couldn’t find her body.

    Those words had haunted me for over ten years and here I was sitting in Mrs. Putersmidt’s old classroom staring at the white board. The board that used to be filled with puzzles much like the one on the paper in my pocket. The board that held so many memories for me and was causing major setbacks in my rehab as I downed the glass of whiskey in my hand. Why had I returned? What had I hoped to gain from this? There was nothing left here.

    I heaved a sigh as I headed back into the joyful noise of the people from my past and present.

    My best friends were gathered, heads together, around a table in the back corner. I could see folded sheets of paper spread out in front of them. My heart quickened its pace as I reached the table.

    “I don’t believe it!” Bobby said and looked up at me as I reached the table. “Jane!” He embraced me in a hug as he tried to hide the paper.

    “Hey, Bobby. You don’t have to hide it from me. I received on too.” I pulled out my paper and we all put our heads together.

    “They look just like-” Pete cut off and I nodded.

    “I just don’t know what to think after this many years.” I replied.

    “Do you think it could really be her?” Annie, my best friend for fifteen years, looked like she was going to burst with the emotions that filled her.

    I shrugged my shoulders. “Has anyone been able to solve their ciphers?”

    They nodded.

    “Mine doesn’t make sense. It comes out to be just a string of random words.” Pete replied.

    “Maybe it’s not many messages, but one message?” Annie offered.

    Bobby was the first one to piece it together and he stared hard at me.

    “What?”

    “She’s still alive.”

    What!?” I grabbed the paper he’d just finished writing on.

    Come to Central Park at ten o’clock on September fifth. Love, Mom.

  29. NancyG says:

    I saw the lines of coded messaging and tossed the letter in the trash, as the phone rang.

    “So she’s doing this after all?” Patrice sounded annoyed. “She’s testing her idea on us.”

    When our friend Marilyn had playfully suggested a “coded” theme for our class reunion, an eerie silence fell over the committee. No one wanted to wake the ghost of Mrs. Maurice, assuming she was dead.

    Despite her brief acting career, Marilyn wasn’t a good liar. When I called, she denied sending the letters, and I believed her.

    “Who is crazy enough to dream up those ridiculous puzzles?” she demanded.

    Only Mrs. Maurice, and she disappeared ten years ago.

    “She’s probably buried under the gym,” Patrice said when the three of us met for lunch later.

    That was the rumor when our crazy math teacher didn’t show up for school one morning. In fact, she remained a missing person, her story featured recently on a TV crime show. The week she disappeared, a construction crew poured the foundation for the school’s new gym. Some speculated she’d been drinking and wandered into the hardhat zone, where she either fell into wet concrete or some disgruntled senior pushed her.

    Someone fed up with those ridiculous coded puzzles she handed out in math class to “grease the gears in our brains.”

    “Why did she make us think so hard?” Marilyn asked. Armed with pencils and paper, with the handwritten letters we’d received spread on the table before us, we called upon our dormant codebreaking skills to decipher the message.

    “I hope this doesn’t turn out to be another of those silly Humpty Dumpty nursery rhymes like she used to give us,” I grumbled.

    We made slow progress, in part because the numbers were hard to read.

    “Why would someone handwrite each of these instead of typing the message on a computer and printing it?” Patrice, the efficient office manager, wondered. “Look at this shaky, grandma handwriting. It must have taken forever.”

    Several reunion committee members dropped by and asked what we were doing, but they shrank away like they’d seen a ghost when we invited them to help codebreak.

    “Here’s what we’ve got so far,” I said after an hour.

    “The one in the hat who sits in the back knows who you seek and where she is at.”

    The three of us looked at each other uneasily. The diner door opened, the papers on the table were disturbed by a blast of chilly air, despite a record heat wave.

    “Who’s that woman in the hat that just left?” Marilyn, turned pasty white, asked Tilly, the waitress refilling our coffee, who knew everyone in town.

    “I have no idea,” Tilly replied. “Strange old bat comes in here everyday at lunchtime, orders alphabet soup and hot tea, and leaves a $5 tip.”

    In unison, we scrambled from our chairs and ran to the door, scattering in three directions. We reconvened moments later, the mysterious disappearance of Mrs. Maurice a puzzle no more.

  30. Garth says:

    I took another drink of the weirdly flavored “punch” and wondered once again what made me attend my high school class’ 30th reunion. I hadn’t been to any of the previous ones and kept in touch with only a small handful of people I graduated with. We had all moved on and high school was a part of life that seemed unimportant.
    As I looked around the room, I found that I didn’t recognize most of the people standing around chatting with each other. Who were these people? They all looked old now. I guess I did too but not in my mind. There, I was still 18.
    ‘Oh well,’ I thought to myself as I started moving around the room looking at name tags and trying to put them to faces I used to know, ‘might as well mingle and see who is here.’
    As I passed a group of guys who obviously used to be nerds, ‘cause it looked like they still were, I heard one of them mention Miss Gomez. That was a name I hadn’t heard for more than 30 years. But now, it brought back some very pleasant fantasies. She was our math teacher and maybe the most beautiful woman I’ve seen ever! She always wore a skirt and tight, low cut shirt to school. I think we all listened to every word she said because we were in love with her and didn’t want to disappoint her. Then, one day, we had a substitute and Miss Gomez never came back. We asked what had happened to her but we were quickly put off.
    Now, here’s this group of nerds talking excitedly about her as if they knew where she had gone. I listened in.
    “…note was in my email this morning.” ‘James’ was saying. “I almost recycled it but it said it was from C. Gomez. Wasn’t her first name Carmella? Anyhow, when I opened it, all I saw was a puzzle like she used to give us back in school.”
    “I got the same thing,” ‘Oliver’ was saying. “Only the puzzle is different.”
    “All the puzzles are different.” ‘Robert’ was saying.
    “Have you solved them?” I asked being pulled in by a touch of intrigue and the chance that my greatest high school fantasy was still around.
    Altogether, they had a total of 6 words. Not much of a message. I quickly checked my email and found that I had discarded her message but retrieved it quickly. When put together, they said “…had……teaching…leave… soon.. sorry program…school.”
    Robert suggested we asked everyone here, and found several others had received the messages and after we solved each one and rearranged them several times, we came up with “I’m sorry I had to leave suddenly. The witness protection program does that sometimes. See you soon!”
    And as we finished her puzzle, as if on que, she came into the room, still beautiful but now mysterious as well…

  31. wilson hara says:

    On the outskirts of Birmingham, there is an industrial town called X. When my husband and I left Afghanistan, X is where we ended up. I taught mathematics in Birmingham State School for ten years, right up to the day I disappeared.

    My husband Ahmed, is a pianist. Was? Is. There is not much call for pianists, Afghani or otherwise, in a town like X. So he became a carer : everyday he looks after people with dementia. He goes into their houses and cleans and feeds them, watching carefully as they swallow.

    The people of X are like people everywhere. Sometimes, rarely, someone would tell us to

    “Fuck off back to your own country, PAKI!”

    But mostly people are nice. Like our neighbor, Mrs. Y, who has a piano and has opened her house to us. Ahmed sits at the piano and plays. He stops. The white keys are smudged with blood. The skin on his hands is cracked and bleeding from the constant disinfecting that goes with his job.

    People disappear all the time. Turn on the TV, open a newspaper : villages destroyed, a whole race gassed; a city radiated, it’s people atomised; planes and buildings pulverised; a child taken; hurricane, wave; on and on.

    Ahmed did not disappear, he gradually vanished, in his own quiet and considerate way. Since we left our own country, my husband has slowly been performing his magic act. First, he lost some weight. Then his hairline receded. Daily, he got a little shorter. There was no more laughter, and slowly his smile faded. And now, his beautiful pianist hands are melting. Red and raw, they drip blood, the lines almost invisible.

    It is time to take action. Ahmed, I say, it is time to take action. He looks at me and shakes his head. He is tired. And I realise that this action is going to have to be drastic if I am to wake him up.

    The next day after school, I disappear. I walk to the next town. My feet hurt so I take my shoes off. I get on a bus. Soon, I will send Ahmed a letter in code. The police are looking for me and I am afraid that they will arrest me over my voluntary disappearance. I will work hard but a teacher’s salary is not enough for what I plan to do, for what I dream of. So I will sell something less precious.

    In 2 years time or so, I will return to X and knock on my front door.

  32. Gazing up at the blue swathed ceiling, while nursing her third glass of punch, Sophia felt the evenings theme should have been ‘Drowning’. Either that or ‘Cut Price Crepe Paper’.

    “Do you know those little bottle tops, the ones with a double hook on them?”, Jeff smiled at her winningly, drawing her eyes back down to meet his,“I invented those”. Trapped in a corner of her old high school gym, Sophia grinned non-committally.

    Feeling out of place at her aquatic themed 10 year reunion, reams of blue crepe paper of every shade imaginable decorating every square inch of the hall, Sophia had tried to stave off her old Chemistry class partner Jeff. He’d latched onto her the moment she stepped self-consciously into the hall.

    Eventually, after she’d downed a few glasses of punch, Jeff had started to grow on her like he was a bunion and she was a pair of too tight heels, not much unlike the ones she gingerly stood in.

    “They’re selling like crazy,” Jeff continued excitedly, “Well, I don’t sell them exactly, more like I have the patent pending…”

    “Sophia!”, a loud voice interrupted Jeff’s bottle top soliloquy. Across the hall, drawing the eyes of a few of Sophia’s other former classmates stood nearby, a slender woman in a glaringly blue dress lightly jogged towards her. “Sophia its me, Jessica!”.

    “Jessica, how are you?” Sophia greeted her old classmate warmly, a genuine smile stretched across her face, “You look fantastic! Give me a twirl.” Jessica laughingly obliged, the swirl of her knee high dress drifting up scandalously as she spun around, before she spread her arms out to pull Sophia into a tight hug.

    “Lets make this a group hug!” Jeff exclaimed , attempting a three-way embrace, before halting at the exaggerated cough Jessica directed at him.

    “I don’t think so Jeffrey,” she eyed him flatly, before letting Sophia go with a sigh and momentary silence, before continuing “So did either of you hear about Mrs Reed?”

    “Mrs Reed? Our trigonometry teacher?” Sophia looked side swept by Jessica’s non sequitur “I haven’t thought about her in years.”

    Jeff nodded, “She was a nice woman,” he began to slowly raise his empty punch glass as he continued commemoratively, “may god rest her soul.” Jessica reached out a hand gently halting the rise of his punch glass.

    “Don’t R. I. P. her yet,” Jessica paused for dramatic effect, her eyes glowing with excitement. “Did either of you receive,” Jessica’s voice dropped an octave as she emphasised each word, “The Letter.”

    Sophia smiled as she shook her head, rolling her eyes at Jessica’s well-known excitement when it came to juicy gossip, “I didn’t check my mail this morning.”

    “Me neither” Jeff agreed, grinning at Sophia when Jessica gasped in mock-shock,“I rarely check my snail mail, I do everything online.”

    “Well as soon as you both get home, open your mail,” Jessica urged, lightly gripping Sophia’s forearm, “Mrs Reed has been sending letters out to everyone she’s ever taught,” she cast a theatrically covert eye around the gym as she went on, “she is still alive. She didn’t die.”

    Jessica’s voice dropped to an almost comically loud whisper, “Mrs Reed has been locked up in the loony bin this whole time!”

    Author’s Note: Staying on prompt, with just 500 words, is difficult! I tend to veer off, depending on how the story evolves. In any case, I decided to write the story from the view of classmates receiving gossip about ‘The Letter’, whilst at the high school reunion, rather than from the view of someone who’d received the letter a week ago.

  33. jenjane says:

    Its was hard enough being 16 years old let along being told a teacher that you secretly desired had disappeared without notice. Math lessons,  after that mysterious day, were never the same without Miss Paynes’ cryptic puzzles.  But as all things revolve, so did Life as I’ve known it, until  today  15 years after her exit, I received a “Miss Payne” inspired cryptic fluro green note attached to a School Reunion Invitation.

    What can this mean? Not only the puzzle, but who the heck is trying to get grown and over grown  30 year olds together and expect us to behave in a civilized manner.

    After arriving at the hall, I notice not  only a vast amount of bulging bellies either bloated from beer or babies, but a lot of fluro green notes. The same as my cryptic note. 

    Once we had acknowledged pleasantries,  we established we had been invited to the reunion for some kind of puzzle quest.  We realized we were being  tested to see who had retained the knowledge that Miss  Payne had instilled in us when we were being overtaken by adolescent hormones. 
    For what purpose I couldn’t fathom as I shuffled the green paper in my hands. My memory of the puzzles were clouded by a misspent youth.  Just as I conceded defeat,  Eugene, the smart kid then and even smarter now announced he had solved the mystery. 

    ” Bravo Eugene” ” so good to  see you maintained your intellect and didn’t drown it” announced a beautiful woman, as she strolled onto the stage with a pimply  adolescent girl in tow,   obviously her daughter, both of whom were dressed in fluro green. 

    Do I know them?  they do look familiar…. especially the mother……

  34. kyrstendee says:

    “Please, somebody!” The sound of my voice echoed back to me. I grasped around, searching for anything that could help but all I felt was the smooth, cool texture of the wall. “Help!” The blackness seemed to thicken around me. My heart beat faster and faster as my cries for help became more and more desperate. “Anybody! Oh God, please help me!”

    1 WEEK EARLIER

    Yawning, I glanced at the clock. 7:36. I slowly wormed my way out of the bed sheets which always seemed to become a tangled mess in the morning. Stumbling into the kitchen, I poured myself a cup of coffee. Ahh, I love my husband. I thought with a smile as the warm liquid made its way down to my stomach.
    Ding-Dong.
    “Coming!” The entry way was only a few steps away from the kitchen. I pulled open the door to find no one there. “Huh. Weird.” Just as the door was about to shut, I spotted something sticking out from under the mat. Bending over, I discovered a small envelope tucked away. I stood up and looked around, trying to find the mysterious “mail-man.” Finally, I turned around and headed inside, staring at the envelope.
    I debated waiting to open it until Richard came home, but curiosity won me over. Plopping down on the sofa, I slid the envelope open and pulled out a small piece of paper. On the paper were numbers and symbols. There was something oddly familiar about the patterns, but I couldn’t quite place what it was. After a while I decided to brush the whole matter aside. I had plenty of things to worry about without adding a mysterious math paper to my list.
    Ring.
    The shrill sound of a phone rang throughout the whole house. I raced into the kitchen again and lifted the phone off its hook. “Hello?”
    “Deborah? Hey, it’s Stacie.”
    “Oh, hello Stacie! How are you?”
    “I’m doing well.” There was a slight pause and I could hear Stacie’s breathe catch, almost as if she had been crying.
    “What’s the matter, hun?”
    “It’s Tom. He-he disappeared. Three days ago he got this weird letter with numbers and letters. Then he started obsessing over it. Deborah, he thought it was from Miss Bail.”
    Miss Bail? That’s not possible. She disappeared years ago. How could-wait, it did seem like the equations she used to give us.
    “Then-then yesterday he went to work and never came back. Deborah, I’m scared, this is so unlike him!” Stacie’s voice cracked and her sobs carried through the phone’s speakers.
    “Oh Stacie, I’m sure he’s fine. He probably just, I don’t know. I’m sure he’s fine. Look, I’ve got to go Stacie, I’m sorry.”
    “Yeah, yeah I’m sure you’re right.” Stacie sniffled one last time and hung up.
    I carefully set the phone down and stood staring at it for a long time. I had to find out what was going on. I walked back into the living room, looking around me and over my shoulder. Once I made it back to the sofa, I hesitated, as if picking up the envelope would cause me to disappear. Shaking aside my feelings, I grabbed the envelope, slid out the paper and began to study the symbols. I was going to find out what was happening.

    1 WEEK LATER

    “You look great, honey. Now can we go?” Richard complained, glancing at his watch.
    “Yes, yes. Almost ready. And…there! Let’s go.” I ran out the door with Richard closely behind. We were headed to our first highschool reunion, and I was nervous. Richard smiled at me as he closed my door and then walked over to the driver’s side.
    “Off we go.” I felt the gears shift and off we went.

    ———————————————

    “Oh Deborah, dear, you look marvelous!” Lola, the infamous cheerleader, popped up.
    “Tha-”
    “Well, not as lovely as Christie. But hey, you were always second best. And look at my Charles, isn’t he just magnificent? Who did you marry again? Oh, yes. Richard, the geek. How’s he? Great, right. I heard-” On and on she went. I was finally able to excuse myself and slip away to get some punch before my brains completely melted. Some things never changed.
    I looked around for Richard, spotting him across the room. Smiling, I started to head over to where he was. I was stopped by an arm encircling my waist.
    “Hello, Deborah. Did you get my little note?” Shivers ran down my spine as each word dropped into my brain. “Ah, yes. Would you like to see Miss Bail? How about Tom? Just follow me.”
    As if something was controlling me, my legs followed closely behind this mystery man. Farther and farther we walked, until we reached the outside of the gymnasium. The cold air woke me up quick and I turned to run but it was too late.
    “Come on, this way.” His hand forcibly grabbed my arm and dragged me down to the football field. I tried to scream but no noise came out.
    On the field was a small shed that no one used, not every the janitor. I instantly knew that’s where we were headed. I fought with all I had, but it was not enough. Every inch closer to the small tin box caused my fear to turn to panic. “Stop. Now. If you ever want to get back you will stop fighting.” I don’t know why, but I believed what he said. I stopped fighting and walked silently beside him, like a lamb to the slaughter.
    He slid a key out of his jacket pocket and unlocked the door. Once inside, he pulled up a piece of wood and pressed a button. Half the floor began to rise up and before long a hidden room was visible. I was forced down inside.
    Underneath the tiny shed was a room as big as the gymnasium. Lining the walls of the room were several doors, all different colors and sizes. I could hear the sounds of crying and yelling coming from at least four or five. I recognized Tom’s voice as we passed an old blue door. Farther down the room came the muffled cries of a voice that sounded vaguely familiar.
    “I’m sorry, I am so sorry dear.” I knew I had heard this voice before, but I couldn’t seem to place it. It wasn’t until she turned around, that I recognized her.
    “Miss Bail!” I breathed out, utterly shocked.
    “Yes, Deborah. It is me. I am so sorry that you got the letter. Oh dear. Just, just try not to make too much noise. It-”
    “Shut up!” The man’s hand tightened around my arm and Miss Bail stiffened. “Let’s go, this room is yours.” He pulled another key out and unlocked a faded cream door and shoved me inside.
    “Please, please don’t leave me in here. What do you want? Money? You can have it. Just don’t leave me, please!” He smirked and closed to door, leaving me in utter blackness. “Please, somebody!” The sound of my voice echoed back to me. I grasped around, searching for anything that could help but all I felt was the smooth, cool texture of the wall. “Help!” The blackness seemed to thicken around me. My heart beat faster and faster as my cries for help became more and more desperate. “Anybody! Oh God, please help me!”
    I sank down against the wall and put my head in my hands and cried. There was no way out.
    I never should have opened that letter.

    • Ishmael says:

      Although this was pleasantly written, I thought with the additional 759 words (1259 total), this would be more satisfying. Much unnecessary stuff in there that didn’t drive the plot, didn’t enhance characterization, and didn’t answer any questions of what this was all about. The stammering seemed like double talk: He-he, then-then…they were a no-no. Short words are hard to stutter. ‘He…he disappeared,’ ‘Th…then yesterday’ might have worked better, but I would’ve tried to show her frazzled state a little more in her actions. Not badly written, but disappointing with the amount of words used.

      • kyrstendee says:

        Thanks for the critque! This was my first writing prompt and unfortunately, I didn’t notice the word limit until after I posted. Sorry about that!
        I’ll keep in mind your suggestions, and thanks again! :)

        • Ishmael says:

          Welcome to the board! Currently, I’m unable to find time to write on the prompts, with too many higher priority pieces in the works, but I was able to drop by that day to see how the stories were coming. I was skimming through when I saw your story and thought, “This is lengthy…I wonder how it is.” Like I said, well-written, but lots of extraneous stuff that didn’t serve the story. The wonderful thing you’ll find about the 500 word limit is that it teaches one to hone a story to the bare necessities. You’ll find it challenging, but well worth it, for that practice will help in your longer pieces. Again, welcome. :)

  35. Chocoleese says:

    Another newbie (well… second post). Here goes:

    Numbers, algebra, puzzles – you name it, I loved it. Every and anything Mathematics. Especially the puzzles. Miss Burkett, our high school math teacher would give us at least two puzzles to solve at the beginning of every class.

    “To sharpen your analytical skills”, she would respond every time to the usual groans of protest from some of the students. There were no groans from our quarter. That quarter being David, Joanna, Alan and me. The math geeks, they called us, as our little group would get extra puzzles on a Friday and sure enough we would return with the solutions by Monday. Do they even use the word geek in high school anymore, I wondered, as I grabbed a glass of wine from a floating tray.

    Sudden laughter from a corner of the room interrupted my thoughts. Almost two hours into our tenth high school reunion, the formalities had already been done and small groups were now scattered across the room catching up on old times. Most persons had made it, even our teachers, who to no one’s surprise, were still teaching at the school. There were not many career changes in a small town like Greendale. Or jobs. Or excitement for that matter. So you could imagine the shocking news we received when, ten years ago, Miss Burkett just disappeared from the face of the town without a trace. Nothing, nada, zilch. No clues as to her whereabouts – even investigations into her missing car turned up nothing, according to the sheriff’s reports. The math geeks were crushed – her replacement was not the same.

    “Hey”, someone slapped me on the back. Alan. “Let’s go outside for a minute. David and Joanna are already out there”.

    I found somewhere to put down the wine glass and headed outside with him.

    “I didn’t want to say anything when we were inside but – did you get one too?” David asked.

    I looked around at their faces and had no doubt in my mind what they were referring to.

    “Yes”, I confirmed. “Should I assume we all did?” There were nods all around.

    The unmistakable style of Miss Burkett’s puzzle layouts was just too coincidental, we thought, as we each laid out our paper.

    “Remember how we used to solve her puzzles back then? Let’s get to work!” That was Joanna, the only academic amongst us, who now taught undergraduate mathematics majors.

    “You mean right now?” Alan asked.

    “Sure, why not? Do you geeks wanna go back inside to dance to ten-year old music?” Joanna asked, with a twinkle in her raised eyebrow.

    “Alright, alright. Let’s do it”, Alan, the security analyst, relented. Together with David, the actuary, and me, the programming consultant, we could surely dust off our puzzle-solving skills.

    It was a little more difficult than the ten-year-old ones, but half an hour later, we had done it again.

    KEEPING TABS ON YOU. LOVE YOUR CHOICE OF JOBS. BURKETT.

    Shock, numbness, disbelief, bewilderment – you name the emotion, we felt it!

  36. Vanleraywi says:

    I had read the Da Vinci Code and was sure I could pull this off. It was a complicated form of Transposition mixed with Morse codes. Apparently Ms. Abel had wanted us to suffer after her death as well. My friend Lankley, who had grown to be quite obese in the twenty years we had been apart, kept muttering under his breath.
    “Pretty fun, huh,” Lankley said, as he kept mixing around the letters and symbols.
    I shrugged.
    “I always loved Ms. Abel. Her beginning-of-class ciphers were always entertaining!”
    I ignored the fat bastard and looked around the room for a drink. I had never imagined girls would get bitchier after high school. The punch tasted like the punch at a five year reunion, which was worse than fifteenth, if that was possible. A girl I used to date walked across the floor looking around, trying to find the date she, and everyone else who came tonight, bought off the street to impress. It was crowded, and ridiculous eighties music played. I was looking for an escape route, when I realized I was being watched. It was a strange old man. I knew he wasn’t one of my old teachers, but I thought I recognized him. He looked away once I caught his gaze.
    I leaned back towards the ridiculous joke I had gotten in the mail. Apparently fat bastard Lankley had too.
    “Want to dance?” my street meat said, as she waddled up to me, nearly falling out of her high heels.
    She worked in my office, as a favor-doing assistant. She wasn’t fat, but she wasn’t as skinny as she thought she was.
    I got up and started crudely dancing with her. A few minutes rolled by, until Lankley trampled a few former classmates running over to me.
    “I got it!” he yelled.
    “Great,” I nodded, politely.
    “It says “I see you, Taz” and then it shows instructions for classroom ciphers,” Lankley said again, happily, “What do you think it means.”
    My heart had froze before he had finished the sentence. With a rush of adolescent memories coming back to me, I knew what had happened.
    I remembered her last day. She was so sweet to me, she called me TAZ, my three initials. And I remember she disappeared, but a sub came in, (until we got a new teacher), and that sub that was off in some way. I remember he had no facial hair, not even stubble. He had a sweet voice, one that always made me feel good.
    “Our teacher got a sex change,” I blurted out, as I remembered my mom telling me Ms. Abel was unstable.
    “What?” Lankley questioned.
    My god, he was a fat bastard.
    My old teachers gaze was long gone. I hated her class anyway.

    • “I had read the Da Vinci Code and was sure I could pull this off.” lol.

      I enjoyed this piece, especially the twist at the end.

      Your main character is a right git (I’m from the UK, please forgive my slang), but he is a likeable git.

    • Egg says:

      It might be a sin but I like the cynicism. I was hoping the jerk was going to reveal his secret crush on her before the punchline, but ‘I hated her class anyway’ was cool too.

  37. Egg says:

    (Please forgive relaxed punctuation.)

    Ms. Bryson had disappeared amid claims she’d stashed $50 million of other people’s money abroad. We thought she was dead, until the class reunion.

    James passed around the note: “How many times can you subtract two from thirty?” Phil, the lawyer, answered immediately while the rest of us twitched fingers and muttered in silent calculation. “Once, of course, then thirty becomes twenty-eight. Matt? What’s your riddle?”

    Dust from the morning’s shearing caught in my throat. “Can you tell me the hockey score before the next game?” I shrugged my shoulders.

    James, the jock, laughed. “That’s easy. 0-0.”

    We groaned, just like when Ms. Bryson revealed the answers in her maths classes fifteen years ago.

    “I’ve got an easy one,” volunteered big Frannie. The years had turned her voice to gravel, but she was still a hoot. “There are six apples. You take away four. How many do you have? I’m pretty sure the answer is four, but in my case, it’s none, because I’d have eaten them all.” Her laughed boomed across the room.

    “What does yours say, Rachel?” She was still as gorgeous as she was then, and I was secretly pleased about her recent divorce.

    Her voice was like honey. “The poor have it; the rich need it, and if you eat it you die?”

    We all stood in silent contemplation. I stopped the waiter and downed a glass of chardonnay. “I needed that.”

    “That’s nothing,” said Phil as he selected a beverage from the tray. “You should try the champagne.”

    I looked at my empty glass. “Nothing.” The others looked confused. “The poor have it; the rich need it, and if you eat it you die.”

    James slapped me on the back. Jillian cheered with her tiny fists curled up like the cupcake’s in her shop.

    “You didn’t read yours, Phil,” said Frannie.

    Anxiety furrowed his forehead. It obviously worried the big-shot lawyer that he hadn’t solved his riddle. “What occurs once in a minute, twice in a moment, but never in a hundred years?”

    Jillian leaned in close and whispered in Phil’s ear. His face relaxed as he turned to her. “The letter M? Really?”

    “I remember Ms. Bryson using that one in class,” she said shyly. “Mine says: How many pennies can you put in an empty box, 6”x4”x3”? The envelope even contained a real penny.”

    Brian had admitted to being gay some years ago. We didn’t care, but he’d been quiet all night. “Only one, darlings,” he said. “And then the box isn’t empty, is it?” We groaned again and waited for Brian to continue. “Okay, mine says: Ten sheep in a pen. Three walk out. How many left?” He fluttered his hand as he spoke.

    “None,” I laughed as images of my own crazy flock hit me. “When one goes, they all go.”

    Frannie asked the obvious question: “So what do they mean?”

    We grabbed pencils and paper and spent four hours shuffling the answers, until finally, we had it: 10041MN0. “I owe nothing, for I am inno….” Jillian slapped the penny down. “…cent.”

  38. Mittens1326 says:

    “Who’s the asshole sending this shit to my house?” That cocky grin hadn’t changed.

    Leave it to John to get sloppy drunk at the high school reunion. I was still in awe that I’d miraculously ended up at his table. I barely spoke to John and his football buddies back then, but he’d waved me over and I forced myself to smile and make small talk. He probably thought I was someone else.

    He slapped a piece of paper in the middle of the table, sloshing his drink.

    “I got the same one, man.” Gavin Harris tapped the paper, suddenly uneasy.

    John turned to him with glassy hazel eyes. “What?”

    “Fuck,” Ryan Daniels spat. “Same one. About a week ago.”

    “Me, too.” Matt Knight added quietly. He’d always been the most civilized.

    John laughed and took another swallow. “Someone’s just fucking with us, bro.”

    “What if it’s real?” Ryan shoved the paper back at John. “You said your dad took care of it.”

    “Lower your voice,” Gavin hissed, glancing at me.

    Oh God, now they were all staring at me. My mouth went dry. Ten years later and I was still nervous around the popular kids. What were they even talking about? I scanned the pattern of symbols and numbers over John’s shoulder and cleared my throat. “You know what it reminds me of?” They were all drunk anyway. If I said something asinine no one would remember. “Doesn’t it look like those puzzles Ms. Sanders used to give us in Algebra for extra credit?”

    They eyed me warily. My face burned. I was the loser talking about math homework at the reunion. Nice, Sarah. Once a nerd, always a nerd.

    I switched gears. “Whatever happened to her anyway?”

    Now they looked alarmed. Was that still a taboo topic? Ms. Sanders disappeared midway through sophomore year. She didn’t show up one day and never came back. No one knew what happened to her. But they couldn’t still be worried about that, right? Not ten years later…

    I glanced around the table. Ryan and Gavin argued in hushed tones. Matt looked sick. Only John seemed amused. He sat back with a smirk and elbowed Matt. “That bitch is long gone.”

    “Shut the fuck up,” Matt stood abruptly and shoved through a crowd of girls dancing to Britney Spears.

    Did they think it was the ghost of Ms. Sanders or something? Not even they were that dumb. Why would it make them so nervous unless…

    Unless…

    John was too drunk to notice when I slipped the paper off the table and excused myself.

    My hands trembled as I locked myself inside a bathroom stall and began furiously working out the code. It didn’t take long. I solved one word and the rest fell into place:

    1.There is no statute of limitations for rape in the state of Maryland.
    2. I should’ve never taken that money.
    3. I hope you rot in jail.
    See you in court,
    Elaina Sanders

    • onaway says:

      The dialogue and interaction between the narrator and the characters is great, very enjoyable. You lost me at the ending- rape, bribes, jail, court… it’s been done, so you need to do it better than anyone else. Keep up the good work.

  39. penney says:

    Floyd had grown up in Erwin, NC and aside from working his butt off doing expected chores, his job had always been to stay out of the way. As the years went by so did school, and this year was no different.

    The high school had a class of about 25 and this year he was back in Mrs. Lipkin’s math class. Mrs. Lipkin was one of the few things that made living in a company town bearable. You see the last few years had been pretty hard on Floyd and his family, what with his daddy up and leaving, his oldest brother now gown and his sister not too far off.

    Mrs. Lipkin had always been there after school to talk. “How’s your mama been?”

    “She’s good. Working hard for all of us.” Floyd would say.

    “Still at the mill?”

    “Yah, be there till she dies.”

    “You?”

    “Ah, the same. It’s kinda hard though.” He’d look at the floor when they’d talk.

    One morning Mrs. Lipkin didn’t show up to class. That was the morning the sheriff’s car showed up in front of the school. When the bell rang, everyone shuffled to class. Floyd’s class didn’t start on time and when the principle showed up with the sheriff and his deputy everyone hushed quickly.

    “Sheriff Martin and his deputy, Darrell, have something to say, so pay attention.”

    “Your math teacher, Mrs. Lipkin, is missing. Do any of you remember seeing her over the weekend?” The sheriff scanned the room. Students looked around amazed and bewildered.

    You see, people have a habit of coming up missing quite a few times over the years in Erwin, and the surrounding counties, but no one questions it, what with segregation still a big thing. No one wanted to talk about the fact that she had headed up to Raleigh for the protesting. This was a heated time of debate. It was 1955. People in the state were trying to desegregate the schools. Mrs. Lipkin was all for it, and let everyone know it. She wanted everyone to able to learn equally. Floyd however, had always thought something was fishy about that day.

    As Floyd sat in the meeting hall waiting for the others to come in for the Erwin High School 50th Reunion, he ran these memories through his mind. As the noise from people coming pulled him out of the haze, he looked at his note that came in the mail. The note had instructed coming to the reunion to bring together several notes sent out.

    By mid-evening Floyd had gathered all the notes, the mystery had been bothering him for years and when his note appeared the hunt was on. He sat at the back of the hall the rest of the evening putting them together to find out the puzzle in each note. After 22 years in the military, he knew what it was. They were coordinates, but where to?

    • slayerdan says:

      Love a cliffhanger…forces a reader to use their own imagination—which in the right mind, inspires another story.

    • Jeanie Y says:

      Penney, I enjoyed this. I like how you connected it to this time frame in our history.

      • Wendy2020 says:

        I love how the town and time were practically characters within themselves.

        This is a pretty long-lived teacher to still be writing notes for her student’s 50 reunion. Whatever happened, Mrs. Lipkin must be doing something right. :)

        • penney says:

          I guess I hadnt fully realized age for the teacher. Maybe the fact that there are a lot of people that get into teaching at a young age for reasons especially back then to help others. There were a lot of young people protesting against such things as segregation and came up missing. It is possible that the puzzle note didnt come from her but someone aware of the details of her disappearence. Hmmm?!

  40. Vendetta says:

    I grab my belly, and give it a friendly jiggle. “Ugh, great. Think they would miss me if I didn’t go honey?” I shouted up the stairs. “I don’t think I can handle the damage to my pride if Tom and the boys saw me like this.”
    “Babe, you have to go. Its your 20th reunion, this one you cannot miss. So what you put on a few pounds, more for me to love.” Jamie walked down the steps, gave me her cute smile and a pat on the cheek.
    “This is just payback for me making you go to yours isn’t?” I followed her into the kitchen and she handed me an envelope.
    “Maybe. This came in the mail yesterday.” She said matter of factly leaning over my shoulder and kissed me on the cheek.
    “No return address. The handwriting looks familiar though.” I said searching the envelope for clues before ripping it open.
    “Your other girlfriend?” She laughed.
    “No honey, she wouldn’t be that stupid.” I winked and laughed.
    In the envelope, something I haven’t seen for 22 years, one of Ms. Halzacks puzzles. My heart begins to pound and my anxiety is apparent. “What is it?” Jamie practically shouted as she rushed over to my side.
    “It’s… impossible that’s what it is.” I faltered. “ My 10th grade math teacher Mrs. Halzack used to give us puzzles every week in class. I just got one in the mail.”
    “Why is it impossible?” She asked.
    “Well, because halfway through the semester, she just dissappeared. No one knows where she went; authorities, family, friends, no one. She may as well have just gone up into thin air.” I said and wiped sweat from my brow.
    “Oh.. How would she get our address.” She looked apprehensive and just as confused as I.
    “No clue.” I grabbed my coffee and went to the study to solve the puzzle.

    ——-

    The envelope burned a hole in my pocket as I walk amidst old class mates sharing awkward and forced hello’s with people I barely knew, introducing Jamie to people she’ll never see again (or at least until the next reunion). I see Tom talking to Jon, Anthony, and Mark over in the corner and they look like they are in a heated discussion.
    “Hey guys, everything alright?” I ask patting Tom and Jon on the back.
    “Did you get one?” Tom asked hurriedly.
    “A puzzle, yeah. You guys did too? What did the answer say? Mine didn’t make any sense” I asked pulling the puzzle out.
    “Not here.” Anthony said and we shuffled off into an empty hallway.
    We pooled our answers together, each puzzle gave a one word answer and couldn’t believe it…

    “Me Principal Johnson’s basement”

    We all stared blankly at the words in front of us.
    We walk out into the function hall and principal Johnson walks in, and it looks like he has a little bit of a spring in his step.

  41. mlimbolimbo says:

    The letters were unique. That was confirmed after the first paragraph when the sequencing flipped. I don’t mean to say that the code was unique, that was the same. The content of the messages varied. The message though, was really the same. Dora Wood was alive. Either that or someone with a sick sense of humor was playing us.
    Us, was a growing group. It took Mike all of five seconds to zoom in on another recipient. “Come on,” he grabbed my hand and practically drug me across the room. For a second I thought I would fall off of my heels but I managed to get the next foot forward in time and so on.
    David Braden tucked the letter into his jacket pocket and tossed down a shot of what looked like straight bourbon. The look he laid on me was loaded with everything but welcome and I started to wish that I had fallen off of my heels after all. “She got a letter too”. Mike kept his eyes locked on David. If there were a message there, and it felt like there was, I wasn’t getting it. Apparently David did. “Why her? Did you read it?”
    Mike shook his head the tiniest amount. “If she got one too…” Mike glared, and David obediently held his tongue. “Maybe we should go outside and read the letters.” Even in high school Mike had been the leader of whatever pack he was in. That hadn’t changed. He took my hand and I was starting to wonder if this wasn’t the start of a new and maybe interesting relationship when finally I succumbed to the urge to fall and tripped over a power cord. Great news, Mike caught me. Not so great, his grip was like a vice on my wrist. David caught my other elbow and for a moment both of my feet left the floor. They touched down in time to let me walk myself out the door.
    The shroud of fog absorbed the roar of the party and chilled the darkness behind the hotel ballroom. Then, the door clicked shut leaving me wondering why I was here, why they had wanted to talk outside, and why both had been surprised that I had received a letter, but not so surprised that they had. What did they know about the disappearance of Dora Wood that I didn’t? David’s grip tightened painfully on my elbow.

  42. rob akers says:

    Author’s Note: The code is from an article Music and Math by Thomas E. Fiore. Here is the link..http://www-personal.umd.umich.edu/~tmfiore/1/musictotal.pdf . I have no clue what he is teaching but it seems cool.

    A Captain Bill Rimes Story

    24 July 2003

    Al Udied Air Base

    The crew van pulled up to the gray C-130. The heat radiated off the concrete with the temperature hovering near 140. In Phoenix, it was a dry heat. In Qatar, there was nothing dry about it.

    Any attempt to escape it just made it more miserable. Bill hesitated before opening the door of the van. The air condition felt like an old dog breathing on him. All the same, he didn’t want to leave its relative comfort. Trying to lead by example was difficult. Every day was the same, hot with rumors about rotations home. He hated the rumors more than the insurgents. A lucky strike would kill him quick but these rumors were like a cancer, killing him slowly.

    He missed his wife, his dogs and the freedom to go to a descent restaurant. More than anything he missed his privacy. It was a blessing when the crapper tent was empty, but the residual odor always remained. The two minute showers were a temporary relief because of the 142 steps back to the tent on the dusty gravel path. Rick, his best friend could mute a train with his snoring. The suck factor was high.

    His crew was gathered under the wing, poor, tired and hot sitting in bag chairs they looked like a typical West Virginia family. They all rose to greet him.

    “Are we going home?” JoJo the co-pilot asked, already knowing the answer by the look on Bill’s face.

    The four men gathered around Bill awaiting the message. “The Wing King is going to Turkey for a 3 day meeting on the war. One lucky crew is taking him. He doesn’t want to play favorites so he handed out this math equation. The first crew to get it right gets 3 days in Incirlik. Boys, I hope you know the answer because I don’t have a clue.”

    Bill held the paper for everyone to see.

    XY^CZ][\
    R / XY^aZ][\ L / X^YF]Z\[
    R / XY^dZ][\
    L

    XY^Z][\ B[
    R / XY^gZ][\ L / X^Y]Z\[ E[
    R / XY^cZ][\
    L

    XY^Z][\ A[
    R / XY^fZ][\ L / X^Y]Z\[ D[
    R / XY^Z][\ b[
    L

    XY^Z][\ G[
    R / XY^Z][\ e[
    L / X^YB]Z\[
    R / XY^gZ]] [\
    L

    XY^EZ][\
    R / XY^cZ]] [\ L / X^YA]Z\[
    R / XY^fZ]] [\
    L

    XY^DZ][\
    R / XY^bZ][\
    L / X^YG]Z\[
    R / XY^eZ][\

    Everyone muttered curses below their breath. Turkey would have been nice.

    Sergeant Paul Dolin jumped from the paratroop door. He was using the relatively private facilities on the airplane. In times of peace, hitting the crapper was normally not approved but war had different rules.

    Paully was a large man from the mountains with a gift for music. “What’s the announcement?”

    “It is some type of math problem.” JoJo handed the riddle over.

    Paul took the paper and stared at it for a moment. “It’s BEETHOVEN'S NINTH SYMPHONY. Second Movement, I believe. Are we ready to go?” He said as the crew was beginning to disperse.

    Instantly all five men spun in unison. “You know what that is?” Bill’s voice rose towards a high pitched yell.

    “Yes. Learned it in music theory. They didn’t teach you that in business school?” Paully smiled. “What do I win?”

    JoJo was already running to the flight deck. His mission was clear, get a message to the command post. The Wing King’s riddle had been solved.

  43. BRocha says:

    “What do you mean that she’s alive?” My good friend Jordan Myer looked at me as though I were crazy. Perhaps I was, however, that did not explain the letter I had received.
    “I mean that she’s not dead. Here, read this.” I shoved the crumpled letter in his hand. “Read it.”
    Sighing, “Nadi, we’re at our High School Reunion, this is ridiculous…” He smoothed open the letter and began to read.
    4-5-1-18 14-1-4-9 7-18-5-25,
    25-15-21 23-9-12-12 16-1-25 6-15-18 20-8-9-20 4-1-25.
    19-9-14-3-5-18-5-12-25,
    13-19. 20-9-14-1 7-18-5-5-14
    “It’s just a string of number’s Nadi.” Avoiding my eyes, he shoved the letter into my hands, and began to quickly walk into the crowd.
    “Jordan, Jordan, wait.” I grabbed his shoulder and turned him towards me. I saw that he had started tearing up. He looked frightened.
    Neither of us spoke for a moment, then he reached into his suit pocket and pulled out a small folded white piece of paper and handed it to me.
    “I received this last week. I didn’t want it to be true.”
    The letter he received was just like mine, only he had solved the code. The number’s stood for letter’s. A-J was the first 10 numbers and K-T were the next 10 numbers. U-Z were the last six numbers, equally 26 letters to 26 numbers.

    Jordan’s letter read:
    4-5-1-18 10-15-18-4-1-14 13-5-25-5-18,
    25-15-21 23-9-12-12 16-1-25 6-15-18 20-8-9-20 4-1-25.
    19-9-14-3-5-18-5-12-25,
    13-19. 20-9-14-1 7-18-5-5-14

    Once decoded, his letter read:
    Dear Jordan Meyer,
    You will pay for that day.
    Sincerely,
    Ms. Tina Green

    Comparing his letter to my own, I realized that besides two words, it was identical. I used his decoding method and found that my own translated to:

    Dear Nadi Grey,
    You will pay for that day.
    Sincerely,
    Ms. Tina Green

  44. hedwigy13 says:

    Alas, I’m only thirteen, so I’ve never actually been to high school. Here it goes:

    I tear open the first envelope. It’s a reminder for my high school reunion. Damn. I can’t believe it’s been five years since I left that place. And seven since Ms. Weiss disappeared. No one knows where she went, or why. The police just told us she was probably dead. She used to give us all sorts of puzzles, I‘ll always remember that. There were those Ken-Ken things, and sometimes even Morse Code. But her favorites were the ones where each letter matched up to a number. I plop the flyer down on the kitchen table. What a trip down memory lane. I tear open the next one, and inside is a folded index card. It’s probably one of Todd‘s dumb ass pranks, that screwball. I remember more about Ms. Weiss than I do about why we ever became friends in the first place. Still, I want to see what’s on that card. I unfold it carefully.

    28-17-32-17 32-27-27-23 25-17. 13-32 27-24-16 32-30-13-21-26 31-32-13-32-21-27-26. 20-17-24-28.

    What the hell does that mean? It has to be some kind of code. In fact, it bears a striking resemblance to the ones Ms. Weiss gave us. I flip the card over. Low and behold, numbers thirteen through twenty-eight are listed in the back. A key. Pete took me. At old train station. Help. Damn good one, Todd. Really funny.

    “Weiss was a good teacher,” someone next to me muttered. I turned, and it was this guy who looked to be my age.
    “You had her?” I asked dumbly.
    “Yeah, the year she disappeared.” Why have I never seen him before?
    “Me too.” The guy smiled.
    “What a shame, what happened to her. She was really good. Beautiful, too.” Okay, now this guy’s officially creepy.
    “Yeah. She used to give us all those puzzles,” I reply. I don’t know why, but I’m desperate to figure out who this guy is.
    “Those were fun. The number ones especially.” I think back to that note I got. Pete took me. Who the hell is Pete?
    “And the Morse Code, too.” He laughs a little after I said that. I have no idea why.
    “Cops say they never found her body. Found clothes by that closed train station up on Chestnut Boulevard.” Crap, the old station.
    “Nice meeting you. I’m Frank, by the way.”
    “Nice meeting you, too. And I’m Pete.”

    • mokingjay says:

      Nice, I’m 14 and I’m home-schooled so I’ve never been to a high-school either. I like what you did here. One thing I’d like to point out. If two people are talking, it’s a lot easier for the reader is when person one speaks, you go down to the next line before giving person two’s reaction.
      Ex:
      “And the Morse Code, too.”
      He laughs a little…
      It makes it clearer who’s speaking.
      Besides that I really like it.

      • rob akers says:

        hedwigy,

        welcome to the prompts. Another excellent job overall. I admire your willingness to jump into the water and ability at your young age. I hope you find everyone here very supportive and encouraging.

        I might make a suggestion and remeber that I am not a expert by any measure. Make the reader feel your character. Give them a emotional reason to believe in your characters. That is tough to do with only 500 words.Good luck and welcome.

    • Egg says:

      You did an awesome job creating the mystery and then unravelling it through dialogue, and in so few words, too. Good work.

    • Jeanie Y says:

      Good job hedwigy! Such young talent sprouting up! I enjoyed your story very much!

  45. onaway says:

    Math this.
    They had both received ridiculous cryptic messages and prompts.
    “What does your message say?”
    He read from the letter: “I have been busy working on the Big Bang Theory.”
    “That show sucks.”
    “I know. What does your letter say?” she asked.
    “Be sure to drink your Ovaltine.”

    “I am become bored.” She once said. That night we stole a taxi. I threw the driver onto the wet pavement and he rolled into the gutter with a flop. The long-legged blonde math teacher got in barefoot behind the wheel. She was fine. I hopped in the back with the shotgun and kidnapped her. We got Chinese take out. We stopped at every dive bar we passed. We went into Manhattan to work on that project- it was darker than midnight on the streets but she was brighter than a thousand suns.
    She was my favorite teacher. Together there was nothing we couldn’t unlearn. Tomorrow was the first day of high school but we were already living our last. She would be missed by her students. We circled the earth for ten years adventuring and living on the beaches at the bottom of the mountains. Finally we settled down on a rabbit farm in the jungle downtown.
    “Hey the reunion is coming up,” she whispered as I watched the ocean waves. “Let’s write to all the students just to mess with them.”
    I smiled.

  46. slayerdan says:

    As always, Im not happy with it. I see by the slow responses today, this prompt poses some problems, especially at 500 words. Just a stab is all this was…fleshed out to 5000 words, maybe Id be happy. Be glad to read some others this week.

    • Birdee0809 says:

      I liked it slayerdan. The descriptions are very detailed and the cliff hanger ending is great, leaves a lot for the reader to imagine happening next and would keep them turning the page.

      I’m always finding some little something that bugs me with my stories. I do eventually like what I write although I have a couple stories that will never see the light of day. My main speedbump is the editing I feel compelled to do before the story is done, it’s hard for me to leave it alone. Bad! Bad!

      The prompts are sometimes very specific and maybe there is a point to their specificity but I wish they would tell us what that is. I would like them to be more general, I find myself taking up all the word count trying to fit the entire prompt into the story.

      I enjoy your stories, keep writing!

      Birdee

      • rob akers says:

        I may be wrong but I view the prompts as a guildline and starting point. I tend to use my creativity to make the promt fit what I need. Again I hope I am not out of line.

        I do enjoy reading what everyone else creates. I find the prompt to be just enough for all of us to work with.

        • slayerdan says:

          As I said some weeks back—the prompt is a diving board. The dive, and the pool below is where we take it. Some weeks I stay dead on to the heart of the prompt, others I have just enough to make a connection…just depends on my mood. And I do love to put references in—I am an old MST3K fan and improv actor—MST3K used to say, ” we dont worry about who gets it, the right people will get it”. And thats why I throw in the references—-my character in the story said –“ Flock of Seagulls,” I mumbled,” how fitting.”—well anyone knows their only real hit was I Ran…..so it was fitting they played it, cuz some people are gonna wish they had ran. What does he do after he locks the door? That my friends, is left up to you. I love any and all comments. Thanks to all.

        • Dean Kutzler says:

          I agree Rob Akers.. Sometimes I use them vaguely and sometimes literally. If you think a little out of the box, the prompts can be anything you want them to be. You just have to work at them.

          My biggest beef is the word limit. I know that’s the main purpose because it truly makes you weed out the unnecessary dribble and just use the good stuff, but sometimes…. I want to elaborate to get my point across and there within lays the challenge.

          I enjoyed the story and especially the twist Slayerdan..

  47. penney says:

    Interesting, so “Pet” gets even? But, do we ever find out about the teacher or did “Pet” do in the teacher too? Definitely a mystery. Good Job. I liked the description of the schoolmates entering the reunion.

  48. slayerdan says:

    A feeding trough buffet and a cash bar at the grand Serling Convention Center. A Flock of Seagulls tribute band. Let it never be said my graduating year put the word “class” in classmates. Not that tomorrow anyone would really care.

    “ Flock of Seagulls,” I mumbled,” how fitting.”

    Arriving early, I sat in morbid, voyeuristic apathy as I watched people saunter in. Each as nervous as the next, waiting to size themselves up against their high school peers. Katy Simpson, once cheerleader now baby breeder. Randy Stone, jock turned insurance salesman. Matt Richmond, stoner turned math teacher. Les Williams, loser still losing.

    Alone or in groups they made their way in. I pulled out the letter with the symbols and cypher and went over it again. It was hard to grasp, that was no doubt. And also, with no doubt, it contained symbols that had been given out by Miss Earhart in 10th grade math. They were exactly the same. Miss Earhart would give regular puzzles and things out for the kids to figure out, for extra credit. She was always so nice. The other kids in class had always made fun of her for her limp, and called me her “pet” because she gave me extra help. I never liked math.

    I did like Miss Earhart though.

    She disappeared half way through the school year. Her home was untouched. Even her car was in her garage. The police investigated, but nothing. Her disappearance was as cryptic and hard to solve as her puzzles.
    Except we did solve her puzzles. They never did find out what happened to her.

    The new teacher wasn’t as nice. She didn’t give extra credit. She didn’t give puzzles and cyphers. And the same kids that taunted me while she was there were worse once she was gone. Looking at the symbols on the paper reminded me of how she made me smile. How she helped me out.

    As I made my way in, I noted the small group of 14 near the small conference room door. They each held a paper similar to my own, and were comparing them. I felt my pulse quicken and I suddenly didn’t want to do this. Yet I was already here. The entire class was already here.

    “Well if it aint Earharts’ long lost pet,” came the bastardized voice of Eric Jasper, asshole ringleader. A few others giggled and such.

    Asshole followers and wannabes.

    “Let’s not waste time,” I retorted,” the paper says to enter the small conference room. I went to the door and entered. There was a dry erase board set up with letters and symbols. The symbols on the paper each of us had. There was a punch bowl and glasses. The instructions said “ Have A Drink and Figure it Out.”

    One by one they all got some punch and sat, filling in letters for symbols.

    “ I AM NO PET,” exclaimed Randy Mills,: why does it say that?”

    “Because dear Randy,” I said, locking the conference room door,” that’s what I wanted it to say.

  49. mokingjay says:

    I’m 14 and just started out. Hope you enjoy.

    We had all assumed she had died. There had never been much question about it. It was a pity, she was the best teacher that Highschool had seen in a long time. She used to give us wonderful puzzles to work out during class in groups or separately. They were always different. There had even been a rumor that she was part of some spy organization, because of them. They were always different. Some were like mazes with problems at the corners. Some were mysteries with a number of clues. Yes, for many of us 16 year-olds, she was the best thing that had ever happened to us.

    It was common knowledge that her boyfriend was an abusive drug-addict, so the class was told that Mrs. Pritsker has gone missing, we all assumed the worst. Now years later I had never heard anything to shake that belief.

    Until now.

    A week before my first highschool reunion, I had received an anonymous letter-if you could call it a letter-without any stamps. At first I thought it was a poem, but it lacked any romantic or poetical feeling. After the ‘poem’ there was a complicated sketch that looked sort of like the floor plan of a house, but made entirely out of triangles. Originally I had taken it to be some sort of trick by a neighborhood kid, but after re-reading it, I couldn’t help thinking of Mrs. Pritsker’s old puzzles. Even the hand-writing looked familiar.

    A week later at the reunion I had the letter in my purse, and had my ears open. Well it turns out I was right to do so. Martha, Janette, Mark and Matthew had also received letters. They were similar, they both had the same design on the bottom, but the poetry was different. The four of us were old friends from school, and it wasn’t hard to get us all a table together.

    All of us had the letters on our persons, and we started to compare them. We tried to remember things that our old teacher would have put in puzzles, and tried a number of ideas on the poems, but to no avail. None of us really thought much would come of it. But we tried anyways.

    Finally Martha started to write down the first letter of every line. After coming up with a number of patterns, we started to get somewhere.

    I-A-M-A-L-I-V-E-I-N-E-E-D-Y-O-U-R-H-E-L-P

    I am alive and I need your help.

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