Sleep Talking to the Pentagon

As a child, you were prone to night terrors, sleep talking and sleep walking. Now as an adult, you have long since grown out of your old habits. That is, until one night. You awake to find yourself in an unfamiliar place on the phone with a Pentagon official.

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

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121 thoughts on “Sleep Talking to the Pentagon

  1. sasha914bing

    Ring ring.
    Ring ring.

    Swimming. A beautiful waterfall. Rising to the top. Breaking through the water. As I lift my gaze to the rocky cliffs above, my eyes search for my sun-kissed lover. I can’t quite see him as a sound to my left captures my attention and so I must turn my gaze.

    Ring ring.

    Bolting. And gasping. There is nothing like bolting upright in bed upon being awakened from a very bizarre dream. I feel almost out of breath as I reach for the phone.
    “Hello?” I say in my sleepy murmur.

    “Candice Rodgers?” The unfamiliar voice on the other end of the phone asked. I gave my acquiesce that he had my name correct.

    “I apologize for the early hour,” I glance at the clock and see that it is 5:30 am, explaining the darkness outside. “This is Ian Richards,” the deep, masculine voice continues. “I am returning your phone call.”

    Ian Richards? Ian Richards. I experience the feeling of a metal pole piercing through my head, my entire torso, and down through my vagina, where I experience sudden, deep pangs. I look down at the bed and realize that I am huddled under a lacy red satin comforter with lacy sheets. I lift my gaze and notice the matching cherry wood furniture around me. “I must be in a hotel,” I thought. Ian Richards.

    “Yes, hello,” I said as I tried to place how that name sounds familiar.

    “I was briefed about the unfortunate event you witnessed last night, and I am calling to make sure you are okay. I also need you to relay to me anything you can remember, including what the men involved looked like.”

    Unfortunate event? What I can recall? I can’t even seem to recall where I am, as this hotel does not remind me of one I’ve been in before. I reach to scratch my head and startle myself as I feel the soft gauze of a bandage. I am not feeling any instinctive wariness about this stranger on the phone and am still confused about how it is that I am injured. Sudden flashes of a dark alley way and a stairwell pierce through my mind.

    “I’m sorry sir but I cannot remember what happened last night. Who are you? Are you with the authorities?” I ask as I get out of bed and head to the front door of the suite, ensuring it is locked. I feel an odd pressure build at the other end of the phone line.

    “Candice, you must have amnesia. Look, it’s Ian, we’ve known each other before, years ago. I now work with the Pentagon. You had my old cell number programmed in your phone, so I guess the people who found you had you call me. You’re safe now, you are in the home of Senator Smythe Roberts. I’m just down the hall. If you’re up for it, I’d like to come over and talk with you.”

  2. PurpleJAF

    “What?” I said. “Terrorism? How can I be suspected of terrorism? I don’t even know how I got on the phone with you!”

    “I’m sorry ma’am,” said the voice on the other end of the phone. “We will have someone at your home in the morning to pick you up and bring you to our facility for further questioning.”

    “Bu… Wha… How? Please! Listen to me! I have never done anything remotely resembling terrorism in my entire life. I’m simply a wife and mother living in Pennsylvania. Don’t you understand? I must have been having a night terror and called you in my sleep! You have to believe me! I’m a work-from-home mom who does data entry. My life is boring, repetitious and very routine.”

    “We’ll explain it all in full detail to you in the morning when we come to get. Have a good evening, ma’am.”

    “Have a good evening? HAVE A GOOD EVENING! Is he serious?” My mind was racing. My heart was about to break through my chest and there was a lump in my throat the size of a watermelon. What was I supposed to do now? How would I explain this to my husband and son in the morning when the Feds show up to take me to Washington, D.C.?

    All I could do from the moment I hung up the phone was sit in the recliner in the living room staring at the blank television screen. I was completely numb. All I could do at this point was wait.

    Wait, I did. I watched the minutes tick away and cried. What did I say on the phone? How did I call the Pentagon? None of it made any sense.

    Finally, at 8:15 a.m. a black car pulled into the driveway. I was about to be put into a car and taken away from my husband and son and be “questioned” at the Pentagon over a call I can’t even remember making.
    The man that got out of the car was not who I expected to see. Instead of a man dressed impeccably in a suit with the signature, aviator-style sunglasses, it was the psychotherapist I had been seeing for several months previous.

    “Dr. Anderson, what are you doing here?”

    “Well, Mrs. Townsend, you called me last night.”

    “You? I called you,” not quite believing what I was hearing.

    “Yes. I decided that I would try an experiment to see if we could scare you out of having your night terrors. I know you haven’t had them for a long time, but something seemed to have triggered them. It’s an experimental procedure that I thought you might benefit from. I’m sure you didn’t sleep the rest of the night, but I’m hoping that tonight will be uneventful. Will you call me tomorrow to tell me how your night goes?”

    “I don’t know if I’ll call you or sue you! How dare you conduct an experiment without my knowledge? How can this possibly be an accurate gauge since this is the first night terror I’ve had in years? You’re fired. I’ll be contacting a lawyer and finding a new therapist. Good day, Mr. Townsend.”

    As I stormed back into the house, I was confused, angry and near tears.” Seriously? How could a therapist allow a client to be so terrified for a six- to eight-hour period of time and then say, “Surprise! It was all an experiment.” The coming days would determine any further action I would take. At that moment, I needed a glass of wine.

  3. PurpleJAF

    “What?” I said. “Terrorism? How can I be suspected of terrorism? I don’t even know how I got on the phone with you!”

    “I’m sorry ma’am,” said the voice on the other end of the phone. “We will have someone at your home in the morning to pick you up and bring you to our facility for further questioning.”

    “Bu… Wha… How? Please! Listen to me! I have never done anything remotely resembling terrorism in my entire life. I’m simply a wife and mother living in Pennsylvania. Don’t you understand? I must have been having a night terror and called you in my sleep! You have to believe me! I’m a work-from-home mom who does data entry. My life is boring, repetitious and very routine.”

    “We’ll explain it all in full detail to you in the morning when we come to get. Have a good evening, ma’am.”

    “Have a good evening? HAVE A GOOD EVENING! Is he serious?” My mind was racing. My heart was about to break through my chest and there was a lump in my throat the size of a watermelon. What was I supposed to do now? How would I explain this to my husband and son in the morning when the Feds show up to take me to Washington, D.C.?

    All I could do from the moment I hung up the phone was sit in the recliner in the living room staring at the blank television screen. I was completely numb. All I could do at this point was wait.

    Wait I did. I watched the minutes tick away and cried. What did I say on the phone? How did I call the Pentagon? None of it made any sense.

    Finally, at 8:15 a.m. a black car pulled into the driveway. I was about to be put into a car and taken away from my husband and son and be “questioned” at the Pentagon over a call I can’t even remember making.
    The man that got out of the car was not who I expected to see. Instead of a man dressed impeccably in a suit with the signature, aviator-style sunglasses, it was the psychotherapist I had been seeing for several months previous.

    “Dr. Anderson, what are you doing here?”

    “Well, Mrs. Townsend, you called me last night.”

    “You? I called you,” not quite believing what I was hearing.

    “Yes. I decided that I would try an experiment to see if we could scare you out of having your night terrors. I know you haven’t had them for a long time, but something seemed to have triggered them. It’s an experimental procedure that I thought you might benefit from. I’m sure you didn’t sleep the rest of the night, but I’m hoping that tonight will be uneventful. Will you call me tomorrow to tell me how your night goes?”

    “I don’t know if I’ll call you or sue you! How dare you conduct an experiment without my knowledge? How can this possibly be an accurate gauge since this is the first night terror I’ve had in years? You’re fired. I’ll be contacting a lawyer and finding a new therapist. Good day, Mr. Townsend.”

    As I stormed back into the house, I was confused, angry and near tears.” Seriously? How could a therapist allow a client to be so terrified for a six- to eight-hour period of time and then say, “Surprise! It was all an experiment.” The coming days would determine any further action I would take. At that moment, I needed a glass of wine.

  4. douglangille

    DANA’S STORY – PART 2
    ===================

    ** building off an old prompt here: http://www.writersdigest.com/prompts/camping-trip-gone-wrong#comment-3386613 **

    I waited in the shadow of the dumpster for the gas jockey to be distracted by a full serve customer. “Where’s the bathroom?” I yelled at him.

    He grunted and glanced over his shoulder at me. “Key’s on the hook by the door. Can’s around back.” He turned back to his charge. Good. I had to slow things down a bit. I had to think things through. The next step. I was being called back in. I didn’t want to go.

    Safe behind the locked door, I studied my face in the broken mirror. The weak yellow glow of the overhead light cast shadows. It gave my face a ghastly appearance. I didn’t recognize the stranger before me. She was cut and bloodied. I felt her pain as I rinsed the dirt, twigs and sap from the open scrapes. I peeled off my t-shirt and winced. My shoulders hurt. I pulled another few sheets of brown paper from the dispenser and soaked them. I’m not sure which was better, getting clean or cooling off. It gave me time.

    I placed my hands on either side of the porcelain sink and pressed my head against the mirror. I peered down the drain mindlessly looking for answers. There were none to be found. A breeze blew through the high outside vent causing my back and neck to tingle with goosebumps. I put on the clean (well, clean-er) plaid shirt I swiped from the cab of an idling rig in the lot. I immediately felt a lot more human. But the monster stared back at me. Why were you here?

    The call from Control earlier that evening was strange. “Time to Foxtrot” was all the voice said before hanging up. I was by myself addressing nature’s call when my cell buzzed. Why the hell did I take that with me, anyway? My mind felt fuzzy and loose. I thought at the time it was the booze. We were having a lot of fun. I remember getting back to the camp site to rejoin the girls. They were droning on about their small lives and laughing about marshmallows.

    It was absurd. Didn’t they get it? Didn’t they understand? My unit was dead. It was my fault. I couldn’t take it. I had to get out, but I couldn’t. I didn’t even know how to dance, let alone Foxtrot. I was out of time. Time. Time. Time. I didn’t have much control. Pardon the pun. This wasn’t me any more. Which me? The me who went to high school with my best friends or the me that learned to fight? To kill. I was too good at my job. Control knew that. Control knew I was weak. I was waking up. The monster was awake. The monster was disgusted by these weak women. These. Little. Girls.

    Mom always said she could see my monster when I roamed the hallways at night. She said I’d just stare at her from the foot of the bed. The truth is, I loved the monster. The monster made my nightmares of my youth go away. Discipline made me strong. Made me powerful. Control used my monster and when I was done Control put my monster to sleep. Told me to go back to being normal.

    Camping with my posse was supposed to be fun. Oh God, what did I do? June! The fire! Maggie! Poor Maggie. Where’s Prim? I still had flecks of blood on my arms. Whose was it? Mine or theirs? Did it even matter any more?

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Doug, you do need to continue with this story and wrap it together. Was the monster always with Dana as implied or was her mother an agent of control who used her own child to further the cause, and why would she unless she had fallen under complete command?
        Who is control and what are their issues here? It makes a great story.

        1. douglangille

          I have two more parts in mind for this story. The next part will be from Prim’s perspective (yes, she made it) and the final will be from Dana’s. The story has some life now, so I probably won’t wait for prompts to finish. :-)

    1. Barouches

      I really like your style of writing. Very easy flow to it that doesn’t leave one having to re-read sections over and over to understand what happened. Nice imagery and abstract analogy.

    2. smallster21

      I agree with Barouches. Your style of writing flows nicely and is easy to read. You make the MC very emotionally layered. I like the subtle hints weaved into the narrative that indicate there are many things in her past that affect her, and I’m interested to find out more. I agree with Kerry on wrapping the story together, as far as continuity and tying everything in. Sounds like her mother knows something, so make sure that fits into the plot properly along with whoever Control is. Enjoyed it. I really do love your writing; it really is so easy to read, but at the same time, you create a complex and interesting plot that leaves the reader asking questions and wanting to know more.

  5. don potter

    I awake to total darkness. My mind is muddled. Each thought is confused with no beginning and no end. Where am I? There is something on the pillow next to my head. It feels like a telephone. Someone is talking on the other end. I pick up the receiver and listen.
    “The situation will be discussed in the morning,” the voice says. “I’ll pow-wow with the folks here at the Pentagon before touching base with the CIA and the WH. In the meantime there is nothing we can do. Benghazi is a developing story with many facets. So, not a word to anyone until we establish the talking points.”
    I hear a click and a dial tone.
    My mind tries to process what just transpired while I search for a light next to the bed. The bulb must be shot. I get out of bed and walk slowly in search of a wall. I find it but not before banging my shin on a chair. If I had any thoughts about this being a dream and I was sleepwalking the way I did as a kid, the pain indicates I am wide awake.
    Finally, I reach an open door — it must have be the bathroom, because the tile floor fells cold on my bare feet. I run my hand up the wall, find the switch, and flip it on. This light is burned out too.
    I stumble back to the bed, retrieve the phone, and dial “O” for operator. A man answers.
    “Who are you?” I ask.
    “The hotel operator,” he replies.
    “The lights are out,” I say.
    “Power grid is down. No lights anywhere on this side of the Potomac. Emergency crews are working on it.”
    “Any idea how long it will take?”
    “Should be fixed by morning. Anything else I can do for you?”
    “Who was I talking to on the phone a few minutes ago?”
    “That could not be, sir. The switchboard is down. No incoming or outgoing calls.”
    “It can’t be. I was on the phone with someone before I called you.”
    “Could have been an inside call or maybe a dream.”
    “Hardly,” I say and rub my tender leg as I hang up the phone.
    There are questions to be answered. How did I get hooked up with someone at the Pentagon? Benghazi? That’s in Libya, right? Wonder what this is all about? Should have asked what hotel this is. Can’t remember. Must have drunk too much.
    There are footsteps outside my room. Then a loud noise as the door crashes down. A flashlight shines in my face. And a gruff voice says, “You have some explaining to do.”
    “I didn’t do anything. I’ve been here all night.”
    “Too bad,” the gruff one says. “You happened to be in the wrong room at the wrong time, so you’re coming with us.”
    “This is America. You can’t do this to me.”
    “Oh yeah, says who?”

    1. swatchcat

      Generally this is a good mysterious story. The only problem is that is it leaves the reader possibly with too many questions. The MC starts out as if he is in “his” bedroom, the way it is written so, why even in pure darkness would he not know remotely how to get around or what furniture and walls to expect. Then you finally inform us that it is a hotel. There is so much implied and open darkness that it is a bit confusing. I admit, it would suck to just get hulled off from darkness to another of uncertainty.

      1. don potter

        The fourth sentence, beginning of second line, tells us the MC does not know where he is. When he steps onto the bathroom floor, the man senses he is in a hotel. I could have been more clear about this. In spite of the confusion, I hope you enjoyed the story.

    2. frankd1100

      It was clear from the start, in my humble opinion, that the subject doesn’t know where he is and we learn of his location as he does, along for the ride as partners in the story. That he has to search for a wall and bangs his knee on a chair, implies he’s in an unfamiliar setting. Good technique and an interesting use of current events.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Your last line is the clue to your story. No one is safe and secure any more, in this country or in any country. The reader may still believe the MC is struggling through a nightmare but the real theme of your story, in my humble opinion, is this is real life today. Those who live their lives like moles, may still escape problems, but probably not. Your MC will gather the will to fight, it is inherent in most people, regardless of danger. Danger breeds where no one takes the sword up to fight for ideas they believe in. Thus a futuristic tale of goverment power, or ….. current government power.

    3. smallster21

      You better be careful writing something like this, the NSA might flag you…lol :) The exchange of dialogue flowed nicely here, and you did a fair job at creating the MC’s confusion. I think you had room here to expand the narrative and develop the plot a little further. The only aspect of the story that would want to entice me to continue reading is the point where the operator says the electric is out and a call couldn’t have come from outside. You could build on that point and increase the tension to strengthen this.

      Spelling error near the beginning: feels instead of fells.

  6. MCKEVIN

    “Who is this?”
    There was hesitation then a gruff answer.
    “Agent Mills.”
    I heard frogs, rain and crickets behind the voice.
    “Who?-“
    “Sir, we know you have classified information.”
    “Is this a joke?“
    “I assure you, this is not a joke! Look out the window, please.”
    Fully awake, I stood in an unknown room wondering how the man on the phone knew where I was when I didn’t know. I walked to the window, slowly pulled the curtains back and glanced out. It was raining. The motel was surrounded with flashing red lights and Swats were positioned on the landings. Three figures stood in the moon’s shadow near an undercover car. One was dressed in a suit and tie another dressed in full Swat gear, pointed a gun at the head of the third, a civilian. All three stared towards the window.
    “Mr. Warren, come out and don’t be foolish by trying anything and no one will get hurt.” Mills said.
    “What?-“
    “Tracy, just do as they ask. Please!”
    It was night, but I‘d know that voice anywhere.
    “Doug?”
    “Yeah-“
    “My men can escort you Mr.-” Mills barked.
    “NO, I…-“
    “JUST COME OUT!” Doug hollered.
    “OKAY!” I screamed.
    I scouted for a door I wasn’t sure existed. The room was a dark, dank and smelled like blood with a dimmed light leading down some stairs. I descended them by twos and stumbled at the bottom. I composed myself and realized my clothes were wet. I struggled to yank the door open and eventually a Swat kicked it in. I was forced backwards and I landed on a headless dog. I screamed as I scrambled to get up. The Swat snatched me outside. I saw Doug in handcuffs and Agent Mills pointing a gun to Doug’s beaten face.
    “You alright, and what is this about Doug? How’d we get here?”
    “I’m okay. Robyn paid the thugs your ex, Washington, recommended, to drug, rob and kidnap you.”
    “Kidnap me? What does Wash have to do with this?”
    “Washington schemed with her to call the FBI/Pentagon and lie about information you and I are supposed to have.”
    “You’re lying! What information? ”
    “ID theft stuff; credit cards, Social Security numbers and phone records that he planted on your work computer.”
    “What? How’d he?”
    “He’s your agency’s Chief of Information Security, he can plant anything, anywhere he wants.”
    “And the Pentagon/FBI believed them?”
    “Tracy, look around, what do you think
    A silent Mills used his gun to beckon the Swat to forcibly handcuff me.
    “How you know this Doug?”
    “I’d left the house to get Leak, the kid’s dog, some food when detectives arrested me.”
    “Dog?-”
    “Yeah, I bought an albino German Shepherd for their protection. It’s the last considerate thing Robyn allowed me do for my kids. Is that blood on you Tracy?”
    I looked at my clothes.
    “Blood? Oh my God!“
    “What happened?”
    “Take them to headquarters and book ‘em!” Mills said.
    “Doug -”
    “What, the guard dog was a good idea?”

    1. smallster21

      Besides a few grammatical and sentence structure issues, this was well-paced, and the dialogue made sense–despite the lack of dialogue tags; I didn’t stumble over it. A bit horrified with the dog bit. It was a nice touch. I might consider taking pause on that moment–where the MC finds the headless dog–seems, like he’d have a more shocking reaction.

  7. Kerry Charlton

    SUPREME COMMANDER

    I found myself sitting at a large desk, windows opened and an Australian breeze cooling the room. Before me, stood a rather attractive colonel with only a clue as to her name, ‘Harrison’ gleaming on her name plate.

    “President Truman is waiting to talk to you, general.”

    I studied my uniform, five stars on each shoulder, a name plate reading ‘Supreme Commander of the Pacific, General Douglas MacArthur,’ sat on my desk and a rolling calendar had turned to April 14, 1945.

    “He’s still waiting general,” the colonel said. “He’s with Secertary Of Defense, Stimson.”

    ‘What kind of dream was this,’ I thought. ‘The ultimate nightmare.’ I couldn’t keep him waiting forever.

    “Good morning, Mr. President.” ‘God, where did that voice come from?’

    “Hello Douglas. It’s still nighttime in Washington,” he said. “How are things going out there?”

    “Please refer to me as general, Harry. If you prefer Supreme Commander, then use it, but don’t call me Douglas.”

    ‘My God,’ I thought, ‘how could I talk to the President that way?’

    “As you wish, general,” the president said. “You are aware that I’m Commander In Chief, aren’t you.”

    “I am Harry. How’s it going in Washington?”

    ‘He’s going to have me run up a pole and set on fire,’ I thought. I couldn’t stop myself; MacArthur’s personality had taken over my dream.

    “I want to come for a visit, General,” the president said.

    “What ever for?” I answered. “I thought you were in the hat business. What do you know about war?”

    ‘Why doesn’t somebody shoot me and get out of this dream,’ I wondered.

    “I’ll be there on the 20th, Commander,” the president said.”I have a little secret to discuss with you.”

    “Look Harry, go to Europe and tell Ike about it; he can call me.”

    “I’m seeing him first, General and then you, so there.”

    “Come when you want, Harry, but I won’t be here to greet you. I’m going back to the Philippians and make a grand entrance.”

    “Are you always the showman?” the president asked.

    “You’re damn right I am, Harry and I’m not a democrat so stay out of my way.”

    “You are a pompous asshole,” the president said.

    “You’re right on key, Mr. President. I look forward to you coming. I had heard rumors you were a tough sonabitch. Now I know they’re true. We can win this war together; two egomaniacs working side by side for victory and liberty.”

    “My God, but you’re inspiring, Doug. You are as good as you say you are. My little secret may save millions of lives but the outrage will be a terrible thing to live with. Are you up to the fray?”

    “I’m up to anything and will stand with you till we see victory. Do you know what my favorite line from a barrack song is?”

    “Lay it on me, Doug.” the president said.

    I’m going to use it in a speech someday, so don’t reveal it.”

    “You have my word Doug. What is it?”

    “Old soldiers never die; they just fade away.”

    Writer’s note: [General MacArthur actually returned to the Philippine island of Leyte on October 20th, 1944.]

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thanks Don. When I was a kid it was the civil war that fascinated me. But now, it’s the second world war. There are a million stories there.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thanks Doug. Reading MacArthur’s speech before congress while I was doing a little research led me to believe his ego made Patton’s look like a pimple.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thanks for the kind words. It’s the first time I’ve written three characters response and then flipped back to two. I had a lot of fun writing it.

    1. smallster21

      Haha, this is really good. The exchange of dialogue interspersed with MacArthur’s thoughts is very well-done. I’m not a big history buff, so I had to ask my grandpa (well, he looked at me like I was stupid, so then I asked my mom) about the relationship between MacArthur and Truman, so I learned some stuff this evening :) This really is great Kerry. Your ability to weave entertaining, intellectually stimulating dialogue is superb!

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you, smallster. That’s a wonderful compliment to read. I have always admired Truman because Roosevelt kept him completely in the dark. Can you imagine the Secretary of Defense, telling President Truman, “By the way, we have a secret project called “Manhatten” We’re about to invent the atom bomb.”

  8. Me13

    “Mr. Albright, are you there?”
    Red light burned through Jonas’ closed eyelids. He clenched his eyes shut tighter. There was no way it was morning already. He had just gotten into bed a moment ago. And who had turned the damned lights on?
    “Mr. Albright, this is urgent. Wake up.”
    Jonas reluctantly opened his eyes, rubbing his face wearily. It had to be illegal to wake up this early. At least that annoying nasal voice would go away now that he was awake. Groaning, Jonas rolled his neck and made to sit up, only to find that he was already standing.
    “What the hell?” he gasped, jumping backward. There was a clatter as something fell from his hand.
    “Mr. Albright!” the nasally voice from his dream shouted. Jonas looked around the small phone booth, but it was dark outside, and he was alone. The only light was the light bulb hanging from the ceiling and the flickering street lamp outside the booth.
    “Mr. Albright, please pick up the phone.”
    Jonas stared down at the phone, which dangled from its cord, crackling with static. He reached out to grab it, noting the way his hands trembled. A lone drop of sweat trickled down the side of his face. Fumbling, he snatched up the phone and brought it to his ear.
    “H-hello?”
    “Mr. Albright, listen to me very clearly,” the voice on the other side spoke low and urgent. “I cannot tell you who I am, or where I am. But know that I am an agent of the United States Department of Homeland Security. We have a very important task for you.”
    “W-where am I-I?” Jonas tried to make himself sound demanding, but his voice was weak and frightened.
    “That is something you must find out for yourself. I don’t know who might be listening in on this conversation. Just—“
    “How did I get here?” Jonas interrupted, his voice strengthened by his growing frustration.
    “Don’t interrupt!” the man snapped. “This is more important than anything you have ever been a part of. The whole country is at risk! Now listen closely. Go south until you reach the third left, turn left, and then continue until you are found. Understood?”
    No, Jonas thought, frowning as he tried to remember the instructions. Even the simplest of directions were almost impossible for him to encode into his mind. He wanted to ask the man to repeat, but couldn’t form the words. “Why me?” was all that came out.
    “All will be answered once you reach your destination. Now go. And talk to no one. Anyone could be an enemy who will kill you without hesitation.”
    “Wait! But-I-I—“
    “Be quick, Mr. Albright.”
    The line went dead. Jonas stood numb, the phone frozen to his ear. He gulped. The sweat was now running down his face like condensation on a water bottle. With almost mechanical movements, he hooked the phone back into its holder and backed out of the booth. He wanted to scream.

  9. frankd1100

    A sense of despair, a twisting tangle of gray translucent depression, neurons misfiring all over as he struggled to orient himself to the present. It had been forty years since the last incident.

    A recollection of waking to early, predawn sirens. Watching from his mother’s kitchen, fire fighters carrying bodies from the neighbor’s burning house. One, smaller and lighter, a firefighter blowing into her mouth as he ran for the ambulance, blackened blond curls spilling from beneath a soiled, wet blanket. Reliving the confusion of that day, and the intense anguish of love mixed with hatred in his mother’s eyes as she discovered her nine year old boy covered with soot, wool pajamas infused with the acrid stench of smoke; a panicked rush to the bath and a frantic scrubbing until she was satisfied the smell had been rinsed from his skin.

    This day he woke in the dark, slumped in a cushioned pool chair, wearing jeans and a cashmere sweater, his bare feet dangling in the cool water of his neighbor’s pool. Strange, he thought, looking across the manicured grass and the blue stone patio. The French doors to Marlene’s library hung wide open. He had a recollection of the custom designed mahogany desk and leather bound volumes lining the floor to ceiling bookcases. As a defense industry lobbyist, Marlene did well.

    “Mr.Secretary?” The voice on the other end of the phone brought him fully awake. He stared at the secure red phone in his hand aware of being in his own home office, water dripping from the cuffs of his jeans, pooling on the pine floor around his cold, bare feet. For a second time a concerned voice asked, “Mr. Secretary are you there, Sir?”

    “I’m here for God’s sake! What are we looking at?”

    “Sir, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs for you.” The phone line made a noise as one line dropped and another came alive with Marine General Robert Curry’s strong, clear voice.

    “Sorry for the hour, Mr. Secretary. Hope I didn’t disturb Karen.”

    “No problem General. Karen’s in New York on business. What have we got?”

    “Mr. Secretary, the North Koreans have moved eighteen missile heavy subs to within fifteen miles of Japan’s western coast in the Sea of Japan. They have uncapped silos along the border with South Korea, aiming several hundred armed missiles at Seoul and thirty-five thousand US troops. We are code red on this, Mr. Secretary.”

    “OK, General. I’ll be there in twenty minutes.”

    The Secret Service agent holding the door as the Secretary of Defense climbed into the rear seat, said, “Mr. Secretary, we’ll have to go left and loop around to get out of here this morning. Police and fire vehicles are blocking the road in front of your neighbor’s house.”

    “My God, I hope Marlene is all right!” The Secretary peered over his shoulder as the limo pulled onto the road, straining for a glimpse of flashing lights through the thick hedges of English rhododendrons.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I have a different read on your story. The responsibility and the burden of command decisions in today’s world. We don’t seem to realize the crushing and terrifying issue that are faced, sometimes alone by command. You bring that idea home with a hammer and chisel for your words. I really liked this story and would prefer to wonder about the MC’s involvement in the fires.

    1. Barouches

      It took a couple reads to get this one. Five hundred words is so restrictive, and makes it hard to develop a story, as well as the characters. Five hundred words is more like a snapshoot of an event or moment, but you gave a lot of informtion in just a finite number of words. Kudos for you! I didn’t really get to know the MC, but the story was very interesting, and if developed into a short of about 3,500 words (with which to weave your tale), would be very captivating.

  10. nelleg

    Order Up

    “I understand Mr. President. It will be taken care of right away.” The steely voice said on the other end of the phone line.

    Jared Phillips snapped awake. He hadn’t had that same feeling since he was eleven. He had been sure it was gone. Why now? Not now! “What have I done?” He thought to himself.

    “Mr. President, Are you still there?” The harsh tone of the man on the other end sent a message that Jared had done something wrong. “President Phillips, are you in danger?”

    “What? Who is this?” President Jared Phillips realizes that he had done something very serious, but what.

    “Mr. President, I am sending someone right away to your location.” The mysterious voice commanded.

    “Where? Where am I?” Jared looked around but all he could see was darkness. The light off of his cell phone only gave a faint glow. “How did this happen?”

    “We don’t know exactly but don’t worry your orders will be carried out precisely. You just stay where you are, we have someone in route.” The stern voice ordered.

    “WHAT ORDERS?” The president screamed into his phone.

    “Sir? You told me not to repeat what you told me, not even to you.” Authority on the other end spoke.

    “ABORT! ABORT! DAMN YOU ABORT! THAT’S AN ORDER!” Jared growled in a panicked voice.

    “Sure thing Mr. President.” The voice calmly answered

    “Thank God.” Jared breathed a sigh of relief

    “Just give me the kill code and I will be happy to abort.” The man smoothly retorted.

    “What! You listen to me you little prick! I AM THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES YOU ABORT RIGHT F***ING NOW! There’s your F***ING kill code!” Jared demanded of the strange voice.

    Just then a light switched on and Jared realized that he was in one of the bathrooms at Camp David. “Mr. President are you okay?” Jared looks up and sees his chief of staff Paul Cellori.

    “Paul? Help Paul, I think I have done something terrible. I was sleep walking and I woke up on the phone with someone saying I gave them a command. I don’t even know what orders I had given…” Jared could see Paul’s faint smile. “What are you smiling at? Help!”

    “Jared, the Pentagon, who you happen to be on the phone with, told me that the package will be delivered to your wife on time.” Paul said almost laughing.

    “In time for what? I don’t find this funny.” Jared snapped as he got off the bathroom floor.

    “In time for your anniversary tomorrow. Oh, by the way the Pentagon doesn’t find this funny either. But an order is an order.” Paul said as he left the room and flipped off the light leaving The President in the dark bathroom.

  11. ThePurpleFlurp

    I’ve always had lots of energy and I what I guess they call nowadays ADHD. I would constantly run around the bases at t-ball, even when I hit a foul ball, with my coach hollering at me to get off the field the whole way. Naturally that carried over into sleep, I would dream so vividly and wake up thinking that I really was an astronaut until my parents shook me to my senses and told me otherwise.

    So when I woke up a half hour ago thinking that I was in the White House, I of course remembered my childhood days, and thought that this was just a recurrence of my overactive imagination. This can’t be real, no I live in Montana and I sell cars for a living c’mon! But as a bespectacled old man comes up and squeezes my arm, it all feels very real. I am in the deepest part of the White House.

    I sit in a dark room, a tall man with many military honors on his chest walks in. He looks at me. He hands me a paper with numbers, “Dial the phone.”

    I obey. A calm female voice answers, probably about my granddaughter’s age, “Pentagon, Sector 12 Front Desk, Andrea speaking.”

    The man nods at me to speak. “Uh hi, I’m Ray Smith.” There’s a long silence.

    “We’ve been expecting your call Mr. Smith. Let me explain. You have been selected, based on your age, anonymity and lack of criminal offenses, to become the first civilian operative for the Pentagon’s Delta Program.”

    “What is that?” Now I’m nervous.

    She continues robotically, “You have been chosen and implanted with Delta chip in your forearm in the last six hours,” I look down and see the fresh wound, “…which will enable you to know thousands of files of information as we feed it into your device via the airwaves, instantly. You will be a walking information machine, and will work for us as you instantly recognize, memorize, and investigate domestic threats. You will be the most advanced person in the world, and will manage our North American office in Canada.”

    “Um ok.” My brain is fried by all this information.

    “Do you accept?”

    “Do I have a choice?”

    Andrea clears her throat. “If you accept, your chip will be activated, and you will be our nation’s eyes, our nation’s computer, a high-profile journalist, so to speak, in that region. You will be paid 3.8 million dollars a year to prevent crime in the North. If not, your chip will be removed, you will forget all this, and you will continue civilian life as usual. So, do you accept? You have about twenty minutes to decide due to the time-sensitivity of the Delta chip’s activation code.”

    I look around. A flurry of thoughts hit me. This doesn’t seem legal, I’m too old, but adventure…

    “Sure, why not? Wait, will I die?”

    She laughs again, “Oh no. You’ll be just a retired grandpa to everyone else.”

  12. Amy

    The clock hanging on the wall in front of me clicked so loud I felt it in my gut. It was the only sound in a dimly lit room, and its ticking hands were drumming in time with my own heartbeat. Tick, tick, tick.

    “Say again, Cameron?” someone said through the phone pressed to my ear. My fingers were curled so tightly around it they were beginning to slide down from the sweat that greased the handle.

    Tick, tick, tick.

    “Cameron, are you still there?”

    There was a knot in the pit of my stomach that twisted and writhed like a tortured beast, sending dizzying waves up to my head. I didn’t recognize the room I was in and had no recollection of how I got there. Come to think of it, I had forgotten who I was talking to altogether.

    “I’m sorry,” I sputtered into the phone. “I… I’m not sure what’s going on.”

    “I told you, we’ll handle the security on our end. All you have to worry about is getting Max to that hotel room at seven.”

    Max. My husband, Max? Suddenly the dim cone of light shining down from the desk lamp felt intensely bright. “What hotel room? Who is this, again?” I asked. The voice felt familiar to me, like an old friend I hadn’t seen in years.

    There was a pause on the other end. “Ma’am I’m going to need you to code in. Test is Kennedy. What is your response?”

    “I’m not sure what you’re referring to. Is this about our trip to Chicago next week? I thought Martha was taking care of the details.”

    “Response is incorrect. Session has expired. Have a nice day, Mrs. Gilbert.”

    Click.

    The residual haze of a dream draped itself over my thoughts as I hung up the phone. Only this scene I found myself in felt more like the dream. I rose from the squeaky desk chair and walked out of the room. The sound of the ticking clock flooded the silent hallway and I found my feet automatically marching to its beat. There were other rooms like the one I just left, all dark and void of life. My feet carried me to the exit at the end of the hall and I pushed open the heavy door.

    After my eyes adjusted to the bright light, I realized I was in a part of the West Wing I had only been to once before. I looked back at the door I had just walked through and saw it blended seamlessly with the wall around it. The clack-clack of my heels echoed off the walls as I made my way around the reception room to my husband’s office.

    “James, Terry,” I nodded to each of the black-suited men posted outside the door.

    “Good morning, ma’am,” they replied.

    I went into the office and found my husband, already immersed in this morning’s paper and sipping from his ‘#1 Dad’ mug. The headline read ‘President Gilbert Travels to Chicago Next Week.’

    “I missed you this morning,” he said without looking up. “Where did you sneak off to?”

    “I was just taking a walk before the whole house was up,” I replied, smoothing the hem of my shirt.

    “Not sleepwalking again, I hope,” he smiled. I hadn’t had troubles with that in years.

    “Not that I’m aware of,” I smiled back, wondering just how much of my morning stroll had been a dream.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Your MC may have thought she was in a dream but the storyline hints of trouble pending in Chicago, plots surrounding the demise of the President and the premise that the first lady has been worked on to further the danger to the president.

        Makes a very good lead in for a bigger story then shows here. It is the devil trying to develop a large idea with only 500 words to work with, thus you leave the reader at multiple hallways of the future of the president. I prefer it that way, for I personally try to tie my stories up into completeness in 500 words, suspecting I’m losing power with my reader.

        1. Amy

          Thanks, Kerry. It is incredibly difficult to begin a story, build suspense, and successfully wrap it up in 500 words. I always begin with the notion of writing a complete short story in mind, but it just doesn’t seem to happen most of the time; hence the cliffhangers. I applaud your efforts at completeness! Thanks, again, for reading and commenting.

  13. wabbitgurl

    The voice on the other end of the phone sounded familiar, but how would that explain the sudden chill that raced down my spine, or the hair standing up on my neck? Of late, my dreams have been violent and haunting; filled with gunfire, searing pain, and pools of blood…things I see and experience everyday as a homicide detective with a dark past.

    “It’s time for your final mission.”

    “And you are?”

    “Not for you to know, only for you to do.”

    “Doesn’t work that way, bub.” It didn’t take long for my irritation to kick in. “Tell me who you are.”

    “Need to know basis and you don’t need to know.”

    “Our conversation is done, then.” By now, I’m seven kinds of pissed off at this arrogant schmuck.

    “Hang up and you die, Sloan.”

    I hear the darkness in his threat and it sends a shudder of fear through me. How does this jack-wagon know my name? Worse yet, what ‘mission’ is he referring to?

    One name rang out clearly in my mind…’Black Ops’. My dark past was coming back to haunt me; seeking to draw me back down into the hellacious vortex of blood and violence that I had walked away from all those years ago.

    “That’s not who I am any longer.”

    “It’s who you will always be, Sloan. Embrace it. You can never escape us; no matter where you go, we will find you. Your life is ours.”

    I should be trembling in fear; packing up a few vital belongings and running for my life, but I hold my ground; taking a cleansing breath and calming my terror. This is exactly what they expect from me and I’ll be damned if I give it to them!

    “No longer.” I say with all the strength I have in me. “Should you choose to come for me, then so be it. I will not run and cower in some dark corner like some spineless waif.”

    “You are a fool and a dead one, at that.” He was angry and I could hear it seething in his voice.

    “We all die eventually; some sooner than others. If you’re feeling froggy, then bring it. I’m getting bored with your pontificating, old boy.” That should fire him up and send him off kilter.

    “Step right up, kids. Sloan MacBride’s School of Pain is now in session! Bruises and boo-boos now available!”

    I jumped slightly as I hear the caller roar in rage and slam the receiver back down in its cradle. Trouble was on the way, but a disturbing calm settled over my heart. I wasn’t without my own resources, nor was I completely defenseless. I quickly dial a new number.

    “Hello?”

    “It’s time, Matt.” He knew exactly what I meant, so explanations were unnecessary.

    “Are you okay?”

    “Amazingly…yes.”

    “Be there in ten.”

    “I’ll be ready.”

    “It’s going to be ugly.” I could sense Matt’s angst and worry.

    “I know. But we knew this day would come. It was just a matter of time.”

    “Point of no return?” This was Matt coming to acceptance.

    “There’s no one in all the universe I’d rather have at my side at the point of no return than you, Matt.”

    “And there’s no place I’d rather be, Sloan.”

    As Matt ended our conversation, a warmth filled me completely. No matter what happened, we would be together and that mattered most of all.

      1. wabbitgurl

        Thank you so much!! This was my very first time doing something like this! I have been told I’m a good writer by college professors, so I thought I’d try my hand at it!

  14. swatchcat

    I always wondered what it looked like on the inside of Oscar the Grouches can. The perpetual echoing of him traveling in mysterious caverns? I wondered if there were windows down there? What would he see out a window in a cave?

    As a child it was questions like that, that sent me literally wandering streets and conversing with shadows while sound asleep. The fact that I was now holding a receiver of a payphone was awkward enough. Then a voice was yelling at me from the other end.

    “Snap out of it Alex,” the voice on the other end yell. “They’re coming and they’re coming fast. Get out of there!”

    I just stood there, encased in the booth, it was totally surreal. I had no answers and nothing made sense.

    “Alex, you were asleep again,” said the man on the other end, “Dear god I hope you didn’t say anything.”

    “Who is this, what the frick is going on? Where am I?” I learned when waking up to get the facts, all the facts.

    “We lost you down in the caverns. You’re on assignment for the Pentagon.” He continued, “When you’re asleep, you’re actually awake doing work for us. What seems like reality is not, what is happening now is real. World is always changing and dreams are the new reality now. Nothing is what it seems. We manipulate realities so we can get agents that are less inhibited.” Explaining didn’t help worth beans.

    Outside mayhem seemed to unfold on the street in front of me. Crashes and screams came from the other side of a wall of fog and then a car swooshed through the clouds on a crash course for me. I couldn’t open the door. I struggled with the handled and in the nick of time dove for cobblestone a few yards away. The booth was in pieces the car in quick recovery. I just ran.

    A door, a bus, anything I just needed to get away from that car. I ran a sequence of streets and alleys that took me toward the C Street Tunnel. It had started to rain and my clothes were drenched as I took cover in the tunnel. I didn’t hear anything chasing me so I stopped for a breath of air. The only light around came from streetlights outside and two yellow lamps over a billboard mounted on the wall of the tunnel.

    It was the strangest sign ever. A sorcerer with a large python wrapped around his neck and a golden lion. Unusual in execution it looked more like a piece of old art. The sorcerer had long curling exaggerated finger nails that he petted the snake with, their eyes meeting. He seemed to fondle the leathery skin while the snake blinked its eyes and began coiling around the magician’s body.

    The magician turned looking at me with red eyes, “Go, and retrieve the Dish of Orick. It is in the land of glass and steal just beyond the bridge called Brooklyn.”

    The lights flickered and all was back to normal. I watched puddles form at the edge of the tunnel, not a soul in sight. I looked at the sign one more time. The snake slithered and the lion roared, “GO!”

    I’m in a dream and things are never what they seem. Wake me please or put me to sleep, I am lost forever.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      You nailed what real dreams are, fragments ever moving, changing, evolving and more often than not, making little sense to the one dreaming. When you try to tell someone what your dreams are at least in my case, looks greet you as if you have really lost it and are ready for the cubicle.

    2. MCKEVIN

      Stunning visuals; sequence of streets, unusual in execution and Dish of Orick all puts me in mind of the Matrix. I got the feeling the voice on the phone was alter ego trying to convince him to follow his thoughts.

  15. Barouches

    I didn’t know where the phone was, but the earpiece lodged in my right ear registered static, then reconnected.

    “Bluejay, can you hear me? ….goddamned satellite.”

    “Copy that.” I whispered.

    “Good, good. Keep going straight ahead, we can see you on thermal.”

    “Well that’s good; cause I can’t see a fucking thing. It’s pitch black in here.”

    “There’s a wall on your right side. Side step two steps to your right, reach out, and you’ll feel it.”

    “…and you know this how?”

    “We have you on thermal; remember?”

    I side stepped once, and felt the ground squish under my boot. When I lifted the next, the sole was held by a brief suction, then finally released. It too was met with spongy terra-not-so-firma. I reached out with my right hand and felt the cold slimy stone surface, and used it to guide my journey forward.

    “Hey, ah, not to sound like the village idiot here, but, just who the hell am I talking to again?”

    “Mission Command, Pentagon.”

    “Right, that was my first guess.” I rolled my eyes in the blackness. Apparently I wasn’t going to get a straight answer to that one; but then again I never did in these nightmares. I dealt with them as a kid, but they looked like they were making a cameo.

    “Oh shit! Oh shit! Oh shit!”

    “Command, talk to me!”

    “Bluejay, I want to move forward, go as fast as you can! Just go!”

    “That’s easy for you to say, Command; it’s as dark as a chimp’s asshole in here, and I’m walking on slop!”

    “Bluejay, it is in the chamber with you!”

    “Well why didn’t you say so before?! WHAT the fuck is in the chamber with me?!” I had ceased whispering a while ago, and began pushing my legs to lift, and move with all I had.

    “It’s right behind you!”

    The claw stabbed and tore at my left calf. Panicked, I reaching for the claw, grabbed it with all my strength, and twisted; feeling the bones underneath give. The beast shrieked in pain, then started to cry. Cry?

    I opened my eyes, but the sunlight was too much. I attempted again to assess my surroundings, and found my girlfriend Jennie cradling her hand, and rocking back and forth on the side of the bed, as she sobbed.

    “I’m so sorry!” I said, clumsily making my way towards her in an attempt to see what I had done. She pulled away.

    “You fucking asshole! What did you do that for?” Her shrieks hadn’t diminished any.

    “You were ripping the skin off of my leg!” I countered.

    “I was trying to wake you up! What the hell have you been doing?”

    I didn’t pretend to know what the hell she was talking about, and my expression must have conveyed that.

    “Look at the fucking sheets! They’re disgusting, I’m gonna have to throw them out!”

    I lifted the sheets and found them, and myself, smeared with chunks of mud and algae.

    1. swatchcat

      So watching the Mummy and reading your story roughly at the same time may not be a good idea. When your MC is being told “it’s in the chamber with you” I did get a little creeped out. I would like to know where he was in his dream that made him walk in mud and algae in real life.

      1. Barouches

        Thank you for your feedback Swatchcat :-)

        The mud and algae were to imply that perhaps the MC hadn’t been experiencing night terrors at all, but instead, that they had all been actual events. The reader is left to decide by what mechanism the MC has come to interpret the events as dreams, and not the actual events that they possibly were. Had he been given an amnesiac after each mission? Has he been given a post hypnotic suggestion?

        Sorry for creep-out factor, but it is fun, LOL.

    2. frankd1100

      “terra-not-so-firma…” Funny…

      Blue jay, this is a tight, focused scene you relate to your audience. It also happnes to be cleverly humorous. I learned something from your style.

      Thanks

      1. Kerry Charlton

        “Bluejay, it’s in the chamber with you;” freaked me out. However, if the MC’s job is ‘A Honey Dipper,’ then the story ties up neatly in a bow. Webster’s doesn’t bother with the word “Honey Dipper, but in the world of septic tanks, the definition is crystal clear. No doubt the girl friend’s headed for the door regardless of how good your story was. It was damn good, funny and scary. Great job.

  16. smallster21

    NO PASSING GO. NO COLLECTING 200 PARDONS.

    “What did you say your name was?”

    “Don’t play dumb. You heard me, and unless you want your bones ripped out then stuffed in a tray like lasagna listen up. I’m not in the business of helping, but help me and I’ll guarantee you’re assigned to the seventh quadrant.”

    “What’s the seventh quadrant?”

    “Hell of a lot better than 1 through 6.”

    “What do you need an engineer for?”

    “We’re gonna fix that hearing problem once you get down here. I’ll slice those pretty little ears off and cut bigger holes into your head.”

    “Actually, that would make me deaf.”

    A long sigh drawled through the phone. “Cooling system in my wife’s apartment needs fixed. She’s bitching about the heat. I can’t help it, that’s the way we roll down here. She’s so high maintenance; I don’t know what I was thinking.”

    “Tried marriage counseling?”

    “Tried dying? I need your ass down here to fix it. All the other engineers are dismembered at the moment. I should’ve kept a reserve.”

    “Why me?”

    “Engineer plus prostitute plus liberal equals top of my list.”

    “I repented.”

    “Bullshit. Ten Hail Mary’s is no Get Out of Jail Free card. No passing Go; no collecting 200 pardons.”

    “Where you calling from again?”

    “If I weren’t tied up in paperwork, I’d scorch your ass. That’s my fault. I gave you ADHD.”

    “What the fuck?”

    “I have to entertain myself. Work’s never ending at the Pentagon, and I mean the lower levels, way underground. Not that uppity artsy fartsy, sippity sipping on mead and singing Glory Glory Alleluia bullshit.”

    “That’s not nice.”

    “Way I’m talking now, this is me being an angel, haha, hold on while I vomit in my mouth.”

    “I don’t want to help you.”

    “You’re going to fucking help me. Just fucking listen and do as you’re fucking told.”

    “Oh God.”

    “Whoa! Wanna give me a heart attack? Haha, heart attack, as if. I own you. Got it.”

    “But, I’m not dead.”

    “No, but you will be. Make things easier on yourself, execute my orders.”

    “Banana peel?”

    “Just take the damn thing and put it where I told you!”

    _______________________________________________

    As soon as I saw the prisoner transport vehicle, I lined up the peel with the vehicle’s path, and stepped to the side of the road. As soon it hit the banana peel, it rolled several times before crashing into a tree and blowing up.

    “Oh God!”

    “Tut, tut, what did I say about that?”

    I turned around and looked up at a tall man with red skin and horns in a grungy AC/DC tee, black pants and Chuck Taylors.

    “What did you just make me do! Are those people dead?”

    “That was the point darling.”

    “Why?”

    “I figure in condemning you, I should make it a wholesale purchase. They were criminals anyway, first class tickets all around. You guys can be buddies.”

    “What are you waiting for?”

    “You’re not dead yet sister.” Satan nodded behind me.

    Three cops emerged from police cars pointing their guns, yelling for me to put my hands up. “I assume I’m getting the death penalty.”

    “I said this was urgent.” Satan placed something in my hand, and as I raised it to see what it was, shouting erupted.

    “She’s got a gun! Fire!”

    “Oh, shit…”

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Sounds like an everyday HVAC Contractor. They’re all the same, sweat till you can’t see; beg for a service call and then sweat again. When he finally shows up at your door and your better half is a puddle on the floor, he looks at the unit and says he’ll order the part, it’s always the part he doesn’t have with him. And you wait and wait and wait and………………..

      1. smallster21

        Oh, damn, you made a good point Kerry. I had Satan call an engineer to do a simple job like fixing an air conditioner….well, maybe in Hell, the air conditioning system is more complicated?

        I don’t think this MC will be saying she needs to order a part. She’ll probably get thrown into the ‘pit of eternal stench’ or something. Thanks for reading!

    2. don potter

      I found the banana peel routine particularly funny. Dreams, or in this case a nightmare, always seem to have some off-the-wall scene that tells you this is a mind game rather than reality.

      1. smallster21

        Lol, thanks! Appreciate the read and comment. But, this wasn’t a dream or nightmare. The MC really was tricked by Satan, so he could get her to fix his wife’s air conditioning. Moral of the story?…when Satan gives you a banana, make a banana split and throw away the peel.

  17. smallster21

    I was caught up in the story, so it kept my attention, but I was confused about what was going on. Sounds like this guy was in a coma for a long time? If so did the government induce it because of this code they thought he knew?

  18. handyman43127

    PROGRAM

    The years between nine and thirteen were especially difficult for me. I often was awakened by my father or another family member, accused of sleepwalking and even talking in my sleep. Sometimes it was even dangerous, like the time I awoke sitting on the window ledge at school on Saturday morning. The thought of what I may do or say terrorized my waking hours, and the joke’s levied at me by my family, which they thought were funny, consumed and filled my my thought’s.

    The years passed by slowly and what once haunted me as a child seemed to fade into the darkness that once was reality for me.

    Life moves on, so they say, and it did for me. I was a successful salesman. I had a beautiful wife and two wonderful children. Life was great and we were living the American dream in the new home we had purchased a year ago.

    I had never told my wife about my sleepwalking, why should I? My family seemed to forget about it and I could find no reason to bring that painful part of my life back to the surface. I may have to rethink my decision now.

    The package has been delivered. These were the words I awakened to while speaking on the phone. Sitting in a car that wasn’t mine in an isolated area I searched the surroundings around me to try to determine my location. Memories of the past rushed through my mind until a voice on the other end of the line broke the trance-like state I was in.

    “Well done Panther,” the commanding voice cracked. “We will be in touch.”

    “Wait, wait,!” I responded in a desperate attempt to keep the voice on the line. “Who are you, and what is happening to me.? I asked.

    “You need not know that,” the voice snapped.” You will not remember this in a few minutes, just go about your life and we will call you when we need you.” The voice responded.

    Trashing about the interior of the car my hand landed upon a cold and heavy object. It was a gun. I had never ever held one before, what was I doing with one now? I thought to myself.

    “I have the gun!” I said in desperation. “I am holding it to my head, if you don’t explain I will pull the trigger.” I shouted. “Who are you and what have you done to me?” I asked sternly this time.

    “I think it would be best for you not to know.” the voice responded, “but under these circumstances I will explain to you.” A brief silence and then the answer I requested. “I am General Santo’s. I work at the Pentagon. I am in charge of operation citizen, it was conceived thirty years ago and you are one of many that were unknowingly trained, not even your parents knew. It is highly classified, a matter of national security.” the voice grew silent.

    Empty was the feeling in my chest as my head pounded from the information I had received. “What is it that I have been trained to do?” I asked, unsure if I wanted more answers.

    “You deliver secrets and high profile agents to drop zones and extraction points through-out the country and at our borders,” was the answer. “Time is up you will not even remember this conversation.”

    “You shit” I screamed, and then darkness.

    1. smallster21

      This is a good concept. Though I don’t believe the man at all when he said he’d shoot himself, and I don’t believe that Gen. Santos would have relented so easily to such an empty threat. I think he would’ve just told him. I like the mystery here, and was intrigued to know more about how the government trained this boy, so overall interesting plot.

      1. swatchcat

        Nice job. The setup of the MC and how he used to have a problem and now is a family man is good. I guess I’m more gullible about these things but the fact that he is going to forget possibly so soon makes sense to go ahead and reveal the secret and the MC not being convincing is all the better.

          1. handyman43127

            Perhaps just a delivery boy Kerry? I love the Idea you offer, especially around this time of year. Sometimes we need someone to slay the dragons that come against us. Who better than a MC that without conviction or memory can achieve this for us. The fact that he has no control over his thoughts during his missions makes the plot limitless!!!!!!

      1. handyman43127

        Thanks douglangille and MCKEVIN, my old friend. Nice to hear from you again! I missed your comments the last couple of times. I, like you notice when something or someone is missing. I,m not thinking Bourne Idenity though. That has already been used, how about Night Trained? Just a thought for this prompt.

  19. DMelde

    It’s Always Been You
    ************************

    You wake up to the rough touch of a finger tapping at your forehead.
    “Here, talk to this moron.” Tom, your Siamese twin brother, tells you as he hands you the phone.
    You grab it with your left hand.
    But you don’t want to talk to anybody, and so you tell him, but he ignores you. You try and get a better look at what he’s doing with the right hand that’s taking so much of his attention, but your sight is dim, as if you can’t see.
    He always ignores you because he’s over on the right and he controls the right hand, so he thinks he’s better than you. “Oh Mighty Right Hand.” you chant. It makes you laugh just thinking about it.
    Well, he wasn’t better than you last week when you nearly died in a parachuting accident. You used the right hand to slap him repeatedly across the face in a desperate attempt to wake him up after he passed out, just as you were jumping out of an airplane. Deep down, you admit to yourself that it felt pretty good to slap him that hard. You hope it hurt like hell. It was you who used your left hand to pull the rip cord with just enough time left in the jump to avoid serious injury. After he woke up he wouldn’t let you slap him anymore, although you did try.
    “Hello? Can anybody hear me?” said a tinny voice coming from the phone.
    With annoyance growing like a weed, you put the phone up to your left ear and reply.
    “Hello, who is this?”
    “Hello Tom, my name is Amber. I’m a prize official with Penthouse magazine. I’m calling to announce the good news that you’ve won an all-expense paid trip to our newest Caribbean resort, the Pentagon!”
    Amber thinks you’re Tom.
    But you like men you tell Amber.
    After a long p-a-u-s-e Amber stutters, “Um, well, there will be plenty of men there too.”
    In a rare moment of lucid thought you wake up and discover that you’ve been walking. You’re outside in the field again. You look over, but Tom is gone. Shifting the phone over to your right hand you hang up, quietly, on Amber. You remember the doctor’s words. “It’s always been you, just you.” The stars twinkle above your head in agreement. Then you realize that in the morning you won’t remember any of this, and with the coming of the dawn your Siamese twin brother will be back. Tom always comes back.
    Sadness floods in as you hang your head, and as the breaths become heaves, you start to cry.

  20. thebaseballman2003

    “Where are you?”
    “What?”
    “Where are you?”
    “Who is this?”
    “Sam, are you okay?”
    “Why am I on the phone? Better yet, how do you know my name?”
    “Sam, stop fooling around. I need your location.”
    “My location? Why the hell do you need my location?”
    “It’s for the extraction team.”
    “Extraction team? What extraction team? What’s all of this about?”
    “The safe house is no longer safe. I don’t know how it happened but Williamson found out where it was. You need to get your shit together and wait for the extraction team. They should be there any minute. There’s another thing, Sam. Everyone here at the pentagon is freaking out. You told us that you killed Williamson and here he is. You confirmed the kill. What the hell is going on?”
    “I didn’t kill anyone. I don’t know anyone named Williamson. I don’t know who you are but this is not funny anymore. Leave me alone and don’t call…what was that?”
    “What was what? Sam, talk to me. What was what?”
    “Don’t call here anymore.”
    “Sam…”
    Sam hung up the phone as quietly as he could. He had no idea what made that noise. All he knew was that it came from downstairs. He got up from his bed and slowly made his way out his bedroom. He moved as quietly as he could down the hall in order to not draw attention to himself. Sam made it to the stairway and he stopped. He could see something moving down there but couldn’t make out what or whom. He walked back to his bedroom and opened the closet door. He pulled out his aluminum baseball bat. It is truly the perfect tool for hitting homeruns or stopping intruders. Before he could walk out, he heard another noise. This time it sounded like someone was coming up the stairs. Sam decided to hide behind the bedroom door and wait for the intruder to come in. Each second felt like an eternity. His heart was pounding, sweat was coming down his face and his nuts felt like they were in his throat. Then, the intruder stepped into the room and was right in front of Sam’s bed. The next thing he heard was three gun shots. When the intruder turned around, Sam jumped from behind the door and hit the intruder with one hard shot to his skull. The intruder dropped to the floor. Sam flipped on the light switch on and saw the intruder’s body on the ground. There was a pool of blood that surrounded their body and the gun was still in their hand.
    “Who the hell are you and why were you trying to kill me?”
    Sam looked through the intruder’s clothes and found a wallet. When it opened it up, he was stunned by what he saw: a CIA badge. He dropped it and fell back onto the wall in disbelief. Isn’t it amazing how fast your day can change with one simple phone call…especially one that you do not remember making.

  21. peetaweet

    The tiger’s stripes are touching. It was a phrase that I had heard far too many times as I sat at the edge of the hard bed in a hotel room. The curtains were sealed shut, and the suite was cramped with serious faces. A menacing bag dangled from a shiny metal stand, looming over me.

    It was dark outside, I knew that much, maybe around 10 or 11 o’clock if I had to guess. I was on the phone, patched in directly to a Chief of something or other important. I couldn’t say, because I don’t know the military or have any secrets to leak. And that’s what I had been explaining to the stiffs in the room.

    I wasn’t being tortured, yet, although judging by the half snarl on the beefy kid at the door that may be subject to change. I was however, wearing a hospital gown, and there were monitor patches stuck to my chest.

    The voice was hollow and distant, speakerphone. I pictured a room full of uniformed men analyzing my answers. I picked at the adhesive in the fold of my arm while he continued.

    “Mr. Stadler, the usage of codes only known to a handful of top level agents is not something we can ignore, you understand. For someone to dial up the DOD and utter highly classified codes is…this has been a unfortunate misunderstanding.”

    “Yes sir.” I rubbed my forehead; which was nearly raw from the past 36 hours. I’ve always had a knack for finding trouble but this was impressive. My first bout of sleepwalking in 10 years and I’m packing for GITMO.
    As a child I had always roamed, my parents took me to a so called specialist after finding me rolling around under the streetlamp, my knee gashed open and my bike on the curb. I was pumped full of antidepressants and sent to a therapist for an hour every Tuesday where we talked baseball while my parents footed the bill.

    “Well Mr. Stadler, we see no need for further analysis, we thank you for your time. Agent Kindler will show you to your things.” The line went dead, and I put down the receiver, shaking my head and wondering what was next. Max was probably starving; hopefully someone had let him out.

    Two suits approached, one pulling clothes and my wallet out of a clear plastic bag.

    “Your things, Mr. Stadler.”

    I squinted under the metallic light in the hallway. Not a hotel.

    “Your parents are waiting Mr. Stadler, to better help with the transition.”

    “My parents live in Florida.”

    The agent scowled.

    “Oh sweetie! My mother held my face. We were in some sort of holding area. The agent mumbled about the press. My father squeezed my shoulder. He looked haggard and tired, old. They had a suit of their own with them, hovering in the background and talking on a cell phone with a ridiculously large screen.. I asked about Max and my mother’s eyes widened with horror.

    “They haven’t told you?”

    1. smallster21

      I was caught up in the story, so it kept my attention, but I was confused about what was going on. Sounds like this guy was in a coma for a long time? If so did the government induce it because of this code they thought he knew?

        1. smallster21

          Well, if that was it, then I don’t think clarity is necessary. Keeping an air of mystery surrounding such a story leaves the reader with that itchy, ‘oh my goodness is that what really happened, how shocking’ feeling.

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