The Mysterious Call

Your phone rings in the middle of the night. An indiscernible voice speaks: “There is a car waiting for you outside your house. Get inside. You don’t want to ignore this.” Your spouse rolls over, eyes squinting, and says, “Everything okay?” What happens next?

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

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442 thoughts on “The Mysterious Call

  1. BlackCaviar28

    It was exactly eleven minutes to midnight when the call came.

    “What is it?” My wife, Alyssa stirred beneath the bedsheets.

    “Probably Teagan wanting a lift home” I replied as I rolled over and grabbed the buzzing phone off the bedside table. Our teenage daughter had gone out to a concert with friends and I had told her to call if she needed a ride.

    Pressing it to my ear I soon realised the caller wasn’t Teagan.

    “The car is waiting outside. You don’t want to miss this” said a nasal, all too familiar voice.

    I froze, beads of cold sweat quivering on my brow. They had come. They knew. It was time.

    Hastily changing into a shirt and jeans, I grabbed my coat and headed for the front door. Alyssa moaned in her sleep. It’s better this way, I told myself. Turning my head, I could just make out her silhouette down the corridor.

    Goodbye my love.

    And with that I surrendered myself to the waiting black clad men, and my fate. I would never see her again, but at least she, and my daughter would be safe now.

    Settling in the back of the vehicle, the voice spoke again:

    “You know what you have done, and you are willing to pay the price. No?”

    I couldn’t tell them. I would never break my promise. Ever.

    “I’ll take that as a yes then. Jenkins, you know what to do”.

    The world outside become a series of blobs as a partially opaque sack was forced over my head.

    There was a click, coldness, then everything went black.

  2. rebeccalily

    The Deal

    “Everything’s fine honey, go back to sleep.” His voice lied for him before he could even begin to formulate his own deception. “Ali’s dog got out again.” He mumbled as he began to get out of bed, full of apprehension.
    The cold air that hit him as he shivered was only the beginning of what he knew he was about to face. “Again?” Isabelle’s voice brought him back to reality for a mere moment.
    He turned to kiss her head, lingering for a moment longer than usual, but not long enough to alert Isabelle to what he was about to do. She would be safely asleep as he followed through his plans.
    The deal had already been made.
    He slipped into the car, the cold leather felt oddly refreshing against his hands and it was much more cushioned than he would have thought. “I’m glad you did not ignore.” The voice on the phone reverberated throughout the car. There were black tinted windows separating him and the outside, and the driver.
    “We had a deal.” His voice trembled, betraying him immediately.
    “Indeed we did, Mr. Michaels.”
    The car began to move, and Mr. Michaels heard a loud explosion and froze. Isabelle.
    It was too late.
    He was only beginning to understand the depths of the deal he had entered into and realised a little too late that perhaps these were not the people to make a deal with.

    I haven’t written in two years, and am a bit of an amateur at best, be nice please!

  3. cowgoesmoo

    Evolution

    The man stepped into the bitter blackness of winter’s night, and pulled his robe tightly for a small semblance of comfort. The train is no good, he muttered to himself, his mind heavy with defeat.

    The black car idling at his curb was a faint silhouette in the darkness, but he could make out the back window as it opened slowly, a head pouring out. Had he missed something? Some clue? Some way out?

    “Victor, it’s over. We’re made,” came a woman’s nervous voice.

    “I know,” he replied shortly.

    “You know? Oh, never mind, just get in.” She threw open the door. “We have the plane ready.”

    Victor paused for the briefest of moments, before shaking his head. “I can’t, Tanya. That doesn’t work.” He turned away from her.

    “Victor, wait! They’re coming! Victor, we have a way out!”

    Moving into a quickened gait, he took his first left out of the neighborhood. I’ve never gone this way, he realized, heading towards the parking lot across the street and settling on his next move. His heart was racing, but he had an idea. He needed to stay patient. It might just work.

    Successfully settled into the back of a cab he allowed himself a smile. Three hours. He had made it three hours. Victor leaned back, watching the streetlights dance rhythmically past. Was this it?

    “Again, for those of you just joining us, breaking news this morning of a series of dozens of nationwide, coordinated, raids made by the FBI late last night. Details are still coming in, but our sources within the Agency have confirmed the raids were focused on key executives within EarthWorx, brainchild of billionaire philanthropist Victor Childs. The relation of Earth…”

    The voice on the radio faded to background, everything around him froze, as the driver’s pupils expanded in realized recognition.

    With a practiced deftness unbefitting a man of his social status, Victor lunged. The driver’s neck snapped in a single, swift, stroke. Instinctively Victor stumbled from the car, and fell into the blinding whiteness of the searchlight above. He was found.

    “Victor Childs, FBI! Do not run.” The roar of the air was deafening, as he crouched motionless- his own personal blizzard swirling violently around him. How were they always so fast? Why didn’t the phone ring earlier?

    The last thing he felt, as his legs uncoiled into motion, was the calming warmth of the bullet entering his back. Victor closed his eyes. He didn’t want to sleep, but he was caught again.

    The man slowly set down his phone and looked up into the pitch black of winter’s night.

    “Everything okay?” Angela, barely roused from the depths of her dream, lazily draped her arm over him.

    Victor kissed her gently on the forehead. “It’s Tanya. I’m sure it’s fine. I’ll only be a minute.”

    Rolling out of bed, he reached for his robe. The taxi is no good, he reflected knowingly, as he moved towards the front door.

  4. Howard_Roark

    *Ring!*

    The sound of a phone pierces the thin veil of silence in Andre’s studio apartment. Andre awakens face down on his small wooden desk still surrounded by the empty bottles and the photo of her. He props himself up and rubs his eyes wearily. The clock on the wall reads 3:33 AM.

    *Ring!*

    “Alright! Alright! I’m coming. Sheesh,” says Andre.
    Andre fumbles around, his eyes still adjusting from his slumber, for the phone.
    “Hello?” inquires Andre.

    “There is a car waiting for you downstairs. Get inside. You don’t want to ignore this,” says a steely voice on the other end.

    “Wha-?” starts Andre, but the line goes dead.
    “What in the hell?” Andre thinks to himself.

    He walks over to his window and peers through the blinds. The rain outside is making it difficult for Andre to spot any sort of vehicle that may be parked below. Andre gives up his search and moves away from the window. He turns toward the door and pinches the bridge of his nose with his right hand.

    “This cannot be happening. Wake up stupid,” he says to himself.
    After a moment, Andre drops his hand and mumbles, “God dammit.”

    His apprehension rises with each step as he descends the stairs to the main floor of his apartment complex. When he steps out into the rain he is convinced he must be crazy because he doesn’t see a car. This alleviates his apprehension only ever so slightly.

    “Now I’ve officially gone and lost it,” Andre thinks to himself as he lingers in the rain for another passing moment.

    Just as he turns to head back inside, a flash of light in his peripheral catches his attention. He turns. It is a pair of headlights staring him down from just up the road. His heart rate spikes and his throat closes.

    “Okay. Maybe I’m not crazy,” he thinks, his breathing becoming frantic.

    He hesitates, but ultimately decides to approach the car. He makes his approach cautiously with his eyes wide like a literal deer in the headlights. When he finally makes it the car he is astonished to see that all the windows are tinted the kind of black that refuses to divulge even his own reflection. Andre takes one deep breath and enters the back seat of the car.

    There are two men in the front, dressed in all black suits, wearing sunglasses and black leather driving gloves.

    “We’ve been looking for you,” says the same steely voice from the phone.
    The voice comes from the passenger seat.
    “You’ve done a very bad thing,” he continues.

    “I-I don’t know what you’re talking about,” stammers Andre, “Please. I didn’t do anything I swear.”

    “Our client begs to differ,” says the man from the driver seat in the same steely tone.
    The man from the phone turns, pointing a silenced handgun directly at Andre.
    Andre stares into the abyss that is the muzzle.

    “Please…” pleads Andre, his voice barely audible.
    Just as Andre hears the pht of the silenced weapon and his world goes black, he hears a telephone.

    ALT ENDING:
    Andre hears the pht of the man’s silenced weapon and his world goes back.
    The man from the phone brings his hand up to his ear and says, “We’ve sent him your way sir. Who’s next?”

  5. IlaV

    Hello everyone. This is my first post, and the first thing that I have written in a very long time. I found these prompts in a effort to spark my creativity again. This is straight out of my head and a very rough draft. So, here goes:

    The clock on the bedside table glows an eerie red in the murky twilight of the early morning. 4:00 A.M. is reads.

    The shrill scream of the phone pierces the perfect silence of our bedroom. I quickly roll over, grasping with eyes still closed for offending device as not to wake the angel laying beside me. Sleep still dragging at me and making me clumsy. I quickly fumble the elusive receiver, getting it to my ear as fast as possible.

    “Ello” comes my garbled greeting.

    “There is a car waiting outside your house, Mr. Hunter. Get inside. You don’t want to miss this.” Comes the cold and calculating voice on the other end.

    Suddenly the last cobwebs of sleep are shed off and my heart is hammering in my chest so hard that I’m sure it is going to wake my sleeping wife. I find myself sitting straight up in bed with my blood turned to ice water in my veins. My throat is sandpaper and I can’t seem to draw a breath.

    I prayed with all my heart to never hear that voice again, but I knew inevitably my past would catch up with me. My happiness was just too real, too perfect to last.

    I could feel Sarah stirring beside me. I looked over and met bleary, perfect blue eyes as clear and deep as the Mediterranean.

    “What is it Nick? Is everything okay?” Questioned a voice as clear as bells.

    “Andrew just locked his keys in his car again, and needs a ride home.” I quickly replied. “Just go back to sleep hun. I will be home in a hour.”

    Even as I hear the lie pass my lips, I know these will be the last words I ever say to the woman who stole my heart.

    “Okay babe, but don’t be too long, I have to be up soon for work.” She said quietly, already falling back into the arms of sleep.

    Know I have to move quickly, I glide around the pitch black room so effortlessly that it betrays my training. Had anyone been watching the would have had a glimpse of who I really am.

    I pad through the dark on feet so silent a cat would be envious, slipping through the front door with a barely audible click. I make my way down the walkway towards the black monster quietly idling in front of my house and the fate I thought I had left behind. As I slide into the back of the big Cadillac I don’t even spare a backwards glance at the quaint two-story and the life I fought so hard to build.

    “Hello Agent 57, I am so glad to see you again.” Comes the ominous voice from the phone.

    Right then I know my life is over.

  6. Adrian Salgado

    It’s not great, but I haven’t written in a while and I wanted to start again with a writing exercise. Here it is:

    “Everything okay?” Isabel said rubbing her eyes with her hands as she looked at me with confusion.
    “Yeah, it was just a wrong number,” I said trying not to provoke any worry in her. Isabel is the sort of woman who tends to worry about almost anything life puts her through. If the postman doesn’t take the envelopes in the mailbox, she freaks out as if it is the end of the world.

    “I’m going to get some water,” I said getting up from bed and putting on my slippers, as it was colder than usual.

    “You should go back to sleep. Tomorrow’s your interview and I want you to feel ready.”

    “Okay, honey. Goodnight,” Isabel said to me as she turned to the other side of her pillow and drifted back to a deep sleep. I head downstairs trying to make as few noises as possible. I go to the living room and stand near the window. I put my finger through the blinds and take a quick look outside. There is a black car parked in our driveway. It almost looks like a limo with two white circles printed on the front of each door. I decide to go outside and see what they want. I open the front door very quietly and step outside. The night is quiet, dark and cool with the sound of crickets in the distance. I step up to the car and one of the doors opens up. A man is sitting in the seat and says to me,

    “Get in, Austin.” I don’t know what got into to me, but I decided to go in the car without even thinking twice about it. The man had light skin with black hair. He was wearing a suit with the same two circles that were outside on the car doors imprinted on the suit pocket. I began feeling the sweat accumulating on my forehead.

    “I have a proposition for you, Austin,” the main said grimly. I noticed he was holding a white briefcase with several locks on it.

    “I have here in this briefcase $10 billion.” I looked at him with a confused look. Just hearing that there was $10 billion in that briefcase made me even more anxious.

    “It could be all yours. However, you have a choice. You can leave Isabel at this moment and never hear from her again or make any sort of contact with her and you’ll have the $10 billion in your hands. Your other choice is to leave the money and go back to your wife, where she will not be offered a job and you will be fired from your current job. Also, neither of you will have a job for the next two years. What will it be, Austin?” After minutes of endless thoughts running through my head, I decide to take the briefcase.

    “I choose the money.”

    “Okay. Now all you have to do is unlock it. The combination is your wedding date.” I enter the digits 041594 and it unlocks. There is an iPad sitting inside the briefcase.

    “What the hell?!” I say in anger. “Where’s the money?” The screen turns on and it’s Isabel.

    “I can’t believe this you son of a bitch! I loved you and you picked money over me? How could you?!” The screen turns off and the man is staring at me.

    “You had a choice. You let greed take a hold of you and now you have nothing. No wife. No money.” They push me out of the car and I look up to see where I am. There’s absolutely nothing. I’m in the middle of a grass field, my house is gone and my entire neighborhood has vanished. All I could see are the stars up in the gloomy sky staring down at me.

    “What have I done?!” I say as I let out an agonizing cry for help.

    1. Adrian Salgado

      Yes, I know there are a lot of grammar/spelling mistakes, but this is a very rough draft. I didn’t even look over it before posting it. I just really wanted to start writing again. Just looking to see if you think the idea is good for development. Thanks! 🙂

  7. Sunnyskies77

    The Mystery Call

    “Everything is fine hun, go back to sleep. I’m going downstairs to write a bit more, now that I’m up.” I heard my self say with more calm than I felt.

    I watched the strong features of his face rise slowly in a gentle rhythm for a moment before sliding out from under the blanket and creeping to the window. Cautiously, I reached up and pulled the silky panel an inch or so away from the frame. It was as if the driver of the vehicle contemplated my every move. The headlights flickered twice. I could see the pulse in the crook of my elbow beat faster as I lowered my arm and turned away from the window.

    Five minutes later I found myself inside a four-door, dark blue sedan. Despite the circumstances, I found the grey, plush microfiber to be quite comfortable. The mirrored glass that separated me from the unknown driver was especially thick. My finger shot up to touch its smoky colored surface, and it became apparent that I was being watched.

    “Hello! Who are you? What do you want with me?” No answer.

    “I’m talking to you!” My hand already pressed firmly against the cold surface moved to pound sharply on the two-way glass.

    “I wouldn’t do that if I were you, Mrs. McGuiness.” The voice was deep and smooth. Not a voice you’d expect to hear from a cheaply made speaker in the back of a secure vehicle.

    “Why? What do you want with me?” I managed between ragged breaths, now more than a little alarmed at the predicament I found myself in…

    What was I thinking; leaving the comfort of my bed, my home, my husband. Owen! Oh gosh, Owen. What would he think if he woke and I wasn’t there? But, that would be the least of my worries, now, wouldn’t it? Who was that mid-night caller and why had his voice sounded so familiar? If I had just stayed up a little later, I would have been awake when the call came instead of half asleep!

    “Hey! I asked you a question!” I said, slapping the glass with an open palm for added effect and despite his earlier warning.

    The intercom squealed harshly before the smooth voice said, “All in good time, Mrs. McGuiness. All in good time.”

    The last part he said as if an afterthought. He hadn’t believed she would come without a fight. He’d wagered a month’s salary she wouldn’t. He’d have to budget the next month now and miss out on the Vegas trip…Damn spook! Serves her right if she’s feeling a little vulnerable. He’d make her wait for her answers.

    He watched from the rear view mirror. The light from the moon cast a soft light on her delicate face. He could see the resemblance; a little around the nose, but mostly the eyes…it’s always in the eyes.

    At that point he couldn’t help himself.

    Leaning over, he pressed his finger on the intercom “It’s about the book Mrs. McGuiness. It’s ALL about the book.”

  8. Flurry

    “yeah babe” I lie, she rolls over, already drifting back off. I realize then that I have dodged a bullet at this moment and will likely have to pay for it later, once she is fully awake with all her faculties about her. I seal the deal with another lie, “Someone called in at work, they need me to come in and cover, just sleep in and I’ll text you later. Love you.”
    Eight minutes later I’m fully geared and shutting the door behind me. It is cool and moist out, the smell reminiscent of fresh rain. The moon is obscured by a fast moving wall of cloud cover. I waste no time entering the suburban. Hans takes off almost before the door is shut. Griggs is waiting for me in the back, “it’s an indigo code sir,” he has always been one to waste no time on frivolities. Interest piqued I follow his lead, “where?” “Intelligence got a hit a little over three hours ago. It’s less than a hundred cliques southwest of Mexico.” “Who’s on the ground?” I respond. Griggs pauses and gives me a withering look. “Cobalt and Dusk are deployed, sir.”
    I pause, frantically changing into my chordate-suit, laughing out loud. “Then why the hell am I here Griggs, and why the hell did you wake me up if Rainey and Tsetsuang are deployed.” “I’m supposed to be on R&R and my partner is on vacation in-“ “Cancun sir,” Griggs finishes for me. “Mike is also being transported, he will be available to link with you.” “I bet he is royally pissed,” I grin at the thought. Griggs just moves on with his briefing, always business. “The Spartan engaged the foreigner for about two and a half hours. Then we lost contact.” Now Griggs has my full attention. “Where is the Spartan?”
    “It’s offline sir, lying on the coast, we have a visual on it but it took damage to its broadcast hub.” “Rainey and Tsetsuang,” I ask? Griggs looked worried. I smile at him to cover my own nervousness, “No word sir, we have limited transmission showing vitals are present, but have no quantitative data, and they are not responding to any hailing.”
    “So Mike and I are being called up for rescue?” “Secondarily sir, your primary mission is to neutralize the foreigner.” I’m not surprised, in the world of government cover ups and billion dollar military programs, people are disposable, even those rare enough to pilot mechs. “Ok, so what am I driving Griggs? He looks at me curiously, as if he is very interested in my next response. “it’s a hybrid sir, likely an archtype.” A wave of fear, I fight it down. “Interesting,” I respond. “So how are Mike and I supposed to take it out with the Cavalier?” Now Griggs smiles at me. He never smiles. “What is it Griggs?” He looks at me with……..is that envy I see. “We have a next gen prototype online, it has limited broadcast capabilities, due to upgrading, but weapon systems are functional.”

  9. Nova03

    The phone rings in the middle of the night. An indiscernible voice speaks: “There is a car waiting for you outside your house. Get inside. You don’t want to ignore this.” Maureen rolls over, eyes squinting, and says, “Everything okay?”

    No, I need to run out for a minute, as Murphy was getting out of the bed. The fourth time this week, Maureen was visibly upset. She married Murphy only six week ago, “Did she really know him?” As Murphy was leaving the house, thinking he will have to level with his new bride. But not tonight.

    Stepping out the door, Murphy eyed the longest black limo in the world was waiting. Not another rich prick. As he entered the car, a deep dark voice boomed out, are you Murphy? Yeah, what’s its to you. Just drive. Murphy settled into the soft leather seats, thinking what laid ahead for him on this night. The fourth call this week, “what has he gotten himself into with this on demand crap?” Remembering why he got into this seeded business in the first place. His weakness for cards and the dogs, and trying to save his knees from crushed for not paying up.

    As the car pull into the long driveway, Murphy sighed, “for this he spent 10 years in the top medical school.” AFR has been banned for more than decade, but the rich try to beat the system. There was a reason for the ban. Nevertheless that where I come in. Believe you me I make them pay through the nose, cash upfront.
    Entering the hose, I was directed to a small room in the back of the house. The lights was dim, not sure of the owner. The room had a single bed against the back white washed wall. Apparently, the family wanted this kept quiet. Murphy was startled by the movement from the bed as he proceeded closely to get a good look. Murphy was thrown off balance by what his eyes engulf next, the most severe case of AFR he had ever witness in his young life.

    A basic observation indicate that she had at least three-quarters of her body weight removed within 24-hours. Wondering what hack performed this monstrosity, thinking he had his work cut-outed for tonight. That is, if he could savage her at all.

    Murphy didn’t want to give her parents any hope. It would be humane to let her past into the next life, but he would do best to savage her. It was dawn when Murphy finally finished the restoration process. He was satisfied with saving her life. Inviting the parents into the room requesting final payment. The mother screamed and fainted. What have you done to my daughter?, screamed her father. The very reason Murphy request advance payment. I just saved your daughter’s life, perplexed by the parents reaction. Murphy thinking,”I just need the balance of my payment and a ride home.”

  10. SheepCarrot

    The shrill ring of the phone jars me awake, but not so much that I don’t fumble for my phone on the nightstand. “‘llow?” I mumble.

    I can hear a great deal of commotion on the other end of the line, and a muffled voice clips out an order. “There is a car waiting for you outside your house. Get inside. You don’t want to ignore this.”

    I hear a beep, and when I look at my phone, I see the caller hung up. I sit on the edge of the bed and rub my face, my heart still racing from the unwelcome wake-up. My wife shifts in bed as she reaches for me. “Jim? What is it? Everything okay?”

    I kiss her on the head, pulling the sheet up around her shoulders. “It’s fine. Just work.” I see the disappointment on her face as she knows the inevitable is coming next. “I’ve got to go.”

    She watches solemnly as I don my uniform, and I hear her call out, “Be careful!” as I rush out the door. I hop into the front seat of the waiting car. “Thanks for the lift. What have we got this time?”

    The driver is another member of the squad, a guy who just transferred in last week. “You wouldn’t believe me if I told you. I still don’t know if they’re serious or if this is just another recall drill.”

    I nod. Our unit is infamous for that. When you’re assigned to the QRF, they like to activate the recall roster at two in the morning, just to make sure that you’ll be there in the time frame allowed. This was the second time in three weeks. As we pull into the company’s parking lot, there’s a tension in the air that’s never been there before, and I instinctively know that this time it’s different.

    My squad leader catches up to me as I double-time into the bay where my gear locker is. “Need you to find Conner and go to the motorpool.” He tosses me a vehicle dispatch. “Head up 54 to Oro Grande and start setting up a perimeter. No one goes in.”

    I grab my Kevlar. “What have we got?”

    My squad leader just shakes his head. “Can’t say for sure. Some nut called in that a UFO crashed in the desert, but Otero County Sheriff’s office did confirm that there was some kind of aircraft down, though they think it was either a chopper or untralight. Either way…” He shrugs before running off to pass out the next assignment.

    I find Conner by the arms room, and once we draw our M4’s and 9’s, we head across the street to get our HMMWV. I sigh as we depart the base and begin our noisy drive up to the training area. UFO or chopper, either way it was going to be a long night.

  11. Kaboosh

    “Everything Okay?” June asks me.

    “Just fine,” I lie, “It’s a… a work call. My boss has called me in.”

    “At three in the morning? I find that hard to believe.”

    “Honey,” I say hesitantly, “I wouldn’t lie to you. I have to go. It’s urgent.”

    “Fine.” She sighs. “When are you coming back?”

    “I… I don’t know. I love you.”

    She frowns. “I love you more.”

    I walk out of the room. I had a feeling that I would never hear her voice again. It had been twelve years since I had broken into a military base and blew half the place up. I was the worlds most wanted fugitive. Since then, I changed, but the government didn’t know that. I stopped running. I became normal. I knew they were still looking. I knew they would find me at some point. I stepped outside and found my feet stuck to the ground. I raise my hands. A black limo appears out of the shadows. A speaker slowly rises from the roof of the car.

    “MR. AUTUMN JONES. FOR YOUR ACTIONS AGAINST THE GOVERNMENT YOU SHALL BE TERMINA-”

    The limousine blows up, knocking me off my feet. I look up to see June at the window with a grenade pin in her hand.

    “Never lie to me again.” She says with a large smirk on her face.

    She jumps out the window, and we run.

  12. Craig the Editor

    This is my second entry this week. This story is a bit different from my usual material. I hope you enjoy it.

    The Call

    “Yes…yes. Everything is fine.” I lied to her. And she knew it was a lie even before I spoke it. I had always known this call would come for me one day so I really couldn’t express surprise or even outrage.

    Let’s be honest, no one ever got a phone call at 2:30 a.m. with good news. It’s the sort of hour where Death and Destruction roam the countryside after the bars close down.

    I slowly swung my feet out of bed and bed and onto the floor. I knew what lay ahead for me in an abstract way but never having actually done it, I was uneasy, to say the least.

    Over the centuries mankind had finally achieved so much. We had attained world wide peace and we had learned to live in harmony despite our differences in race, religion, ethnicity or poltics.

    I walked over to the closet, feeling the carpet pile against my bare feet for the last time. The closet door slid open and a freshly pressed suit of clothes appeared. A drawer slid open to reveal silk briefs and a pair of argyle socks. I began to get dressed.

    My wife watched me get dressed without saying a word. She bit her lip, her eyes were brimming with tears that rolled down her cheeks.

    “Hey, if you cry while laying on your back, you’ll have tears in your ears.” The attempt at levity fell painfully flat and she shook her head.

    “It’s so damn unfair. You should be able to do something.”

    “Look we’ve been through this countless times and the answer is always the same.”

    Not only had we conquered war and other acts of aggression we had defeated all the major (and minor) diseases. No longer did cancer, heart disease or AIDS plague mankind. We had learned how to prevent Alzheimer’s. M.S. and other crippling conditions.

    We had learned how to eliminate all the defective and dangerous D.N.A. Each citizen of the world was a perfect specimen. Not a defect to be found. Civilization was at it’s peak.

    But there was one slight problem. All these advances meant that people were living longer. Much longer. This meant a terrible strain on our planet’s resources. So a solution was developed.

    “But why you? Can’t you just refuse to go?”

    “Why not me? I’m not crazy about the idea, the planetary computer has called my number. If the computer has decided it must be the right time. It is not our place to question these things.” Did I really just say that?

    “Couldn’t you just not go, or hideaway someplace, change identities.”

    “You know the implanted trackers make that impossible. It’s better that I face my fate head on. There is no advantage in running away. I’d only be wasting precious resources.”

    We embraced one last time and I felt her body shake as she pressed against me. We stood there for several seconds, without saying a word. Each of us feeling the other’s heart beating. Her warm tears ran down my neck and I could feel my own falling as well. I had promised myself I wasn’t going to cry. I had failed and I didn’t care.

    Without saying a word I let go of her and headed out the door. I held my head high and with pride. I was doing this so others would have a chance to grow up and enjoy life. Or so I lied to myself.

    I seemed to recall an ancient poem by a woman named Emily Dickinson called “Because I Could Not Stop for Death” The first stanza went:

    Because I could not stop for Death,
    He kindly stopped for me;
    The carriage held but just ourselves
    And Immortality.

    In my carriage these was only Death and no Immortality.

    1. Observer Tim

      Very nice, Craig. You’ve painted a touching and human picture of the price of Utopia. It was a nice touch to mention the teleportation/creation of the suit in a subtle and offhand way. My favourite line is:

      Let’s be honest, no one ever got a phone call at 2:30 a.m. with good news. It’s the sort of hour where Death and Destruction roam the countryside after the bars close down.

      That is pure brilliance. Bravo!

      I really liked the Emily Dickinson reference, but to my eyes the very end would read more strongly if you chopped off “and no Immortality”. It’s in the poem so it doesn’t really need repeating.

      My red pencil noted a few little grammar things that need cleaning up (e.g. worldwide is one word, hide away in this context is two).

      1. Craig the Editor

        Thank you for the kind words. It was one of those rare times where the piece came together very quickly and easily. I am glad you enjoyed it.

  13. Pete

    I’m wide awake when the prick comes. I’ve been three days without my optics and my eyes were still adjusting to the depths of reality. Another prick and I jump. Sara stirs and mumbles. I can hardly look at her even in the dark.

    Another prick arrives and I flinch. I’ve heard people talk about them but never felt it until right now. Shit!—another one, right at the base of my neck. I’m guessing this is only a first level warning, because they could shut me down if needed.

    I sit up and rub the back of my skull. Aaaahh fuck! Alright, Google, fine. I strap on my optics and blink to see a slew of warning messages.

    An urgent text scrolls across the screen: The cr iz wtng 4 U. U don’t wnt 2 ignr ths

    I wince as my vision calibrates. When everything’s sharp I see that I’m outside. A Lamborghini door lifts open and I hop in. We squeal off but the car stalls. Then we putter off again.

    It’s the software updates. I’ve skipped three after reading about the new features— mainly the memory wipes. Before they were tracked and re-algorized, I even tinkered with my optics and visited some blacklisted sites that urged resistance. But the heart of their message got to me.

    But since I’m still rocking the OC6 software, I have this annoying reminder flashing in the corner of my vision for the past three months. Just before the headaches. Sara called me a freak. She’s been after me to do it ever since our IM chats started breaking up.

    The screen flashes. The door opens. It’s weird because part of me realizes that I’m still in bed— self-awareness being the key defect of OS6—even as I hear my steps click on the floor and smell Some of that’s from taking off the lenses and some of it’s I gather some memories, hoping to beat the machine. My grandfather used to message me about how we used to read how we used to use our eyes. We held and touched things, and spoke by making noises to each other.

    I thought it would be nice to touch and feel things. To actually see without the lenses. So I got brave and took them off. It was terrifying. My house was a hardly a house at all. None of them were. Our whole street was decaying, heaps of trash and filth. And the silence is so creepy. I tried to speak to Sara, to form words. To warn her about everything, but she only screamed.

    And since then I’ve been noticing other stuff about my wife. How she’s nearly bald from her Optics strap. Her disgusting eating habits. The way her flaccid arms jiggle when she’s nagging at me to put my lenses back on. Where’s my hot wife?

    Two drones help me into my modulation chair. They’re hands are shiny and cold. My heart races. I hold tight to the memories I’ve collected. The dingy walls and our not-so-awesome house.

    RLX

    It’s too strong. I feel it pry and pull. A pulsing jelly fish-like orb hidden just under a projection of girls in bikini’s sprawled out on white sand beaches. Rollin waves crashing gently to the shore.
    The trash, the filth, the squalor of my home and life all drifts away.

    Oscar Meyer Bacon and Swanson Eggs! What else could you ask for?

    Sara messages me that breakfast is ready. I hop out of bed and rub the back of my head. My silk robe slides over my back and stroll down the shiny pine sol floors towards the kitchen. There she is, my hot wife is wearing nothing but a Victoria’s Secret apron.

    Everything is awesome.

    1. Rene Paul

      Wow! This is a good science fiction story. After reading it I thought of James Clavell’s King Rat – were the prisoners couldn’t see how emaciated they had become – it took the outside world to see the real horror of their encampment. Well written.

    2. Observer Tim

      What mess?

      This is a very disturbing take, Pete, doubly so because it’s already halfway here. Who needs reality when the fantasy world is better than life (subtle Red Dwarf reference)? I like how the computer created a second-level fantasy to draw him back in. Too bad his attempt to escape didn’t quite succeed.

      I didn’t know Oscar Meyer made bacon, though I guess it makes sense since they’re a meat packer. It’s not available at my local supermarket. Who says reading doesn’t expand your knowlege. Mmmm. Bacon.

  14. 1andonlykellyd

    The Call

    Sharon reached haphazardly for the phone on the bedside table, managing to knock over a full glass of water in the process. Success! She thinks as she feels the familiar smoothness of the green princess phone beneath her hand.
    “Hello?” She says, both irritated and groggy as she switches on the light next to the phone.
    “There is a car waiting for you outside your house.” An Indiscernible voice speaks. “Get inside. You don’t want to ignore this.”
    Harry rolls over, eyes squinting, and says, “Everything ok?”
    “Yeah, just a wrong number, go back to sleep.” Sharon says. She loves Harry, but he has a tendency to overreact when the phone rings in the middle of the night. She crawls out of bed and starts slowly towards the bedroom door. Harry stirs in bed and she stops.
    “What are you doing?” Harry asks, a little annoyed.
    “I’m going downstairs to get a towel and another glass of water since I just knocked mine over, go back to sleep. You have a big meeting tomorrow.” She says and goes over to the bed and kisses him on top of his head.
    “I love you.” He says
    “I love you too.” She replies, thinking this may be the last time that she will be able to say this to him.
    She turns and heads downstairs and goes to the laundry room by the garage to grab whatever she may have to wear in the drier. She finds a pair of grey sweats and a white t-shirt along with a pair of socks and quickly puts them on. She heads to the closet near the front door where she finds her running shoes and slides them on without untying the laces.
    She had been expecting something like this to happen, it was only a matter of time before her gambling debt caught up with her. She had a pretty good run for a while with her back room poker games. She loved playing during the day while Harry was at work, liked it the best when she was winning, but now she knows she is screwed. During her last hand, she was up over ten thousand, her opponent bet twenty thousand, “I don’t have that but I’m good for it! Let me bet, Please!” Sharon begged. They let her bet twenty five thousand, and here we are.
    Sharon opens her front door, taking a deep breath, and steps out onto the sidewalk. She sees the back seat passenger window roll down.
    BANG!
    She never felt the bullet as it entered her forehead and pushed her head back. As she lay on the sidewalk dying, she couldn’t help thinking how beautiful the moon was tonight.

    1. Cindy_The_Great

      Wow, for this being your first submission, you did incredibly well. The story line was great, I really enjoyed this. At first I thought was was gearing up to leave because she found life with her guy monotonous, then you threw in the gambling thing, which was super surprising. I liked that your story flowed nicely. I never missed a beat. I could feel the emotion the whole time as if it were me. I sincerely got sad when she got shot. Impressive! 🙂

      1. 1andonlykellyd

        Thanks Cindy_The_Great , I did catch something that made me laugh in my own story. She knocked over the water,then-success! Sorry , I have a tendency to make fun of myself.

    2. Observer Tim

      This is a clever story, Kelly. The view into the MC’s head only makes her sudden end more tragic. I do love that last line, which puts a nice finishing touch on things.

      Welcome to the site! For a first posting this is very good; I’m of the impression you’ve been writing for a while, just not here. 🙂

      My red pencil notes that the first and last sentences are in the past tense while the rest of the story is in the present (immediate). Unless that’s a deliberate stylistic device, it needs a wee bit of fixing if you take the story further.

      My style advisor tells me you’re a bit heavy on the adjectives and adverbs in the first bit (the bedroom scene). You should consider paring a few out – less is often more with secondary descriptors.

      Third, and least significant, it would be helpful for these old eyes if you put an extra line break between paragraphs. You may have to insert them manually after you paste into the box, but it pays off for the reader.

      Keep up the good work, Kelly. I can tell you are definitely the one and only… 🙂

  15. bruggers

    “Everything okay?”

    “Yea.” Why had I lied? It felt like the appropriate answer even when I knew it wasn’t.

    “Well, who was that?” Half concerned, half asleep.

    Pausing for a few seconds and staring into space in front of me, I then turn to see headlights passing through the street and stop.

    “Sorry, it’s .. Jim. I’ve gotta go.” Who was Jim? It’s like something had awoken inside me.

    She sits up now. “What?!” You’ve gotta go?? What do you mea- ____ ”

    I couldn’t hear her anymore. Rather I wasn’t listening. The room still dark I walk purposefully towards the stairs then down them.

    “ANTHONY?!!” Her one last attempt at receiving any more information before I brushed out the door goes unanswered.

    There wasn’t anything special about this car and yet, that’s all it was in this moment- special. Knowing nothing and walking closer and closer. I open it and get in the back seat. Before I could close the door, the car takes off. I calmly gather myself enough to look up at my surroundings. It was very dark with only the dim street lights to identify anything inside. A younger guy driving the car with a black slanted beanie on his head. The passenger seat lay too in line with the head rest to capture much more than a cell phone clung to the passenger’s ear.

    “Yeah, he got in… heh, alright.” Click.

    He turns his head to the left looking back at me with a hostile grin from ear to ear.

    “Well look at that.. he got in. That was a big mistake.” clunk. The doors lock as they laugh to each other. I sit in the back with the same straight face grin I arrived with, gun clenched comfortably in my hand.

    “I think you’re right. This was a mistake.”

    No. Everything was not okay.

    1. Observer Tim

      Well done, Bruggers. I like the threat and the turnabout. Anthony is a major league jackass, but at least he has a good chance of being a living major league jackass. 😉

      I don’t recognize your name so welcome to the site! Keep on writing!

      1. bruggers

        Thank you! Yes, first post. I wanted to give the MC a mysterious and dark mentality. I really like the idea of the bad guys capturing someone they thought was random or could be taken car of easily but ended up just being terribly unlucky that they picked someone who was a total badass and/or mentally unstable. (John Wick in a way now that I think about it)

        I also just thought of an edit for the beginning that may make the character more ominous and mysterious without him being a total dick lol.

        “Everything okay?”

        “Yeah hunny there’s nothing to wo-” I had caught myself. I was hearing her again wasn’t I?
        She’s gone..

        ‘Everything okay?’ Is that her or am I asking myself? I don’t even know anymore.

        They weren’t going to wait and that was fine with me. I walk purposefully down the stairs and straight out the door.

        “Where are you going?” the soft voice whispered quickly from behind me and I turn.

        There’s no one there and you know it.

        I turn back to the car and get in the back seat. Before I could close the door, the car takes off. I calmly gather myself enough to look up at my surroundings. It was very dark with only the dim street lights to identify anything inside. A younger guy driving the car with a black slanted beanie on his head. The passenger seat lay too in line with the head rest to capture much more than a cell phone clung to the passenger’s ear.

        “Yeah, he got in… heh, alright.” Click.

        He turns his head to the left looking back at me with a hostile grin from ear to ear.

        “Well look at that.. he got in. That was a big mistake.” clunk. The doors lock as they laugh to each other. I sit in the back with the same straight face grin I arrived with, gun clenched comfortably in my hand.

        “I think you’re right. This was a mistake.”

        No. Everything was not okay.

  16. Observer Tim

    DOUBLES

    The indicator light on the phone flashes that a call is incoming. There’s no sound because I turned the ringer off. I pick up the receiver and hear the message for the first time.

    “There’s a car waiting outside the house. Get inside. You don’t want to ignore this.”

    The line cuts to a dial tone and I hang up. Just then Phillip stirs.

    “Everything okay, dear? Was that the phone?”

    “No, honey. Go back to sleep.”

    Every few months he gets this call, then goes out for a couple of hours. When he comes back he’s different. It’s nothing tangible, just a kind of subtle undefinable thing that only a wife would notice. After two years I’ve resolved to get to the bottom of it.

    While he snores I quietly pull on some sweats and sneakers. After that it’s down the stairs and out the door, carefully so as not to wake him.

    As advertised, there’s a car sitting at the end of the driveway. It’s in the shadow of the streetlight, so I can only barely make out that there’s someone in the driver’s seat. I pull open the passenger door and get in quickly.

    And stop.

    Phillip is in the driver’s seat.

    “Macie?”

    “Phillip?”

    In unison we ask, “What are you doing here?”

    He recovers first. “Why did you come out, Macie? Has something happened to Phillip?”

    “Uh, he’s still asleep, I think. What’s going on here? Why are there two of you?”

    He sighs and looks resigned. “I guess you were bound to find out sooner or later. Remember two years ago, there was that accident at the lab? The gas leak?”

    “The one where you ended up in a coma for three weeks and had to be wrapped up like a mummy? Of course I remember, it was the worst time of my life.”

    “I wasn’t really injured, I was killed.”

    “Killed?”

    “It wasn’t really a gas leak: a supervirus broke containment and killed all eight of us in the lab. They had to incinerate the bodies down to ash.”

    “Then how are you here?”

    “I’m a clone. The company has had the technology to make duplicates of people for years, and they used it to make copies of us. However, there’s a problem.”

    “What problem?”

    “Because of the accelerated growth, the clones only live a few months, then die of multiple organ failure. They’re working on a solution, but it’s still years away.”

    I think about this for a moment. It’s impossible and stupid. But at the moment I have two copies of my husband, one in the car and one in our bed.

    “Okay, let’s pretend I believe you. What about Phillip’s memories? What did we have for supper last night?”

    “Pot roast. I’ve got all his memories right up until we went to sleep last night. But there’s another problem.”

    “What other problem?”

    “You’ve seen too much. As soon as you saw me you’d seen too much.” He takes out a gun.

    _
    The phone rings in the middle of the night. It’s the usual message. I wake sleepyhead and we both get dressed. Down in the car the new Phillip and Macie are waiting.

  17. JRSimmang

    THE DOG WALKER

    Daily Wentworth’s murder was not neat. There are neat murders, ones where a life is simply strangled out, no blood, no brains; the suspect is the killer, and the amount of evidence puts him or her behind bars for good. But, that’s usually TV, and the networks don’t want to offend anyone. Daily Wentworth’s body was found dangling off a green ash on a Cascade Mountain trail, his entrails tied around his ankles, his eyes in his breast pocket, by me. Something the CW wouldn’t dare show.

    I’m a dog walker.

    Sometimes things just don’t go as planned.

    I did what I was supposed to do, call the police, wait patiently, pet the weimaraners that were tugging at their leads and whimpering their concern. The first time I stumbled upon, um, discovered a body was shocking. That one was a little different. Mrs Haley was her name, and she owned a bichon frise and a labradoodle. She lived two blocks from me in a spacious 3/2 with her daughter and grandson. People become transparent around the people they don’t think exist.

    Daily and I were neighbors; he has -had- a small duplex in upstate New York, and I lived in the one bedroom studio across the street. He has -had- a Jack Russell. Annoying thing, too. We spoke on more than one occasion about more than his dog. He had a crush on Marissa, the barista at Golden Cup. Cute. Perky. Just like her dog, a Golden.

    He had a barbeque for the neighborhood three weeks ago. He thought it was funny that I didn’t own any dogs, and we all laughed. It does seem ridiculous, though right? I should at least have one dog. Thing is, I don’t know which dog I’d get.

    We wound up talking about breeds. Then cats, then cat people, then democrats, then ISIS, then Instagram, and I decided it was time to go. I had to walk Mrs Haley’s dogs anyway. That’s when I found her body, strapped to the kitchen island, back cut open, lungs carved out of her body cavity and resting under her head.

    Daily’s Jack Russell wasn’t with him when I found him. Mrs Haley’s dogs weren’t in her house either.

    Tonight, Penny Thompson’s German Shepherd must have been locked outside and was wailing at the moon. I never understood that how an indoor dog can be left outside overnight. Then, my phone rang.

    I picked it up.

    He told me to get in the car outside. He told me that I wasn’t going to want to miss it. He hung up.

    My wife asked me if everything was alright.

    I nodded my head, walked out the door, and into the car. I knew where we were going, and I knew I wanted to know why.

    -JR Simmang

    1. Observer Tim

      As I read this I kept thinking, “What does this have to do with the prompt?” It’s a fascinating story about a dog walker who seems to be at the edge of all these brutal murders. Nice way to sneak in the prompt at the end and tie it to a longer story which, alas, has yet to be written I’m sure. A little corner of my brain keeps saying “the dogs did it” even though that is patently impossible without some kind of transformation going on (most dogs are lousy at tying knots). 😉

      Great job, and an intriguing story, JR.

    2. Cindy_The_Great

      This was an interesting and unique story. Minor critique:

      “Daily Wentworth’s body was found dangling off a green ash on a Cascade Mountain trail, his entrails tied around his ankles, his eyes in his breast pocket, by me.”

      —This sentence is a little awkward to me. I know the “by me” is supposed to tie into the MC finding the body, but I feel that can get a little lost with the lengthiness of this sentence and the overuse of prepositions. I suggest breaking up this long one into 2 sentences at least, or an em dash! 🙂

      Revision: “Daily Wentworth’s body was found dangling off a green ash on a Cascade Mountain trail-his entrails tied around his ankles, his eyes in his breast pocket-by me.”

      (Here the em dash puts emphasis not only on how his body looked when found, but also that the MC himself found the body. His first name can be omitted since you already mentioned in the first sentence that his name was Daily. The sole use of his last name in this sentence will cut wordiness. I kept it here to keep your original sentence intact)

  18. Observer Tim

    THE RESCUE

    The swirls in the ceiling stucco follow my thoughts; continually flowing but frozen in place, going nowhere and achieving nothing. It’s almost a relief when the phone rings, though I have no idea who would call at this time of night.

    I pick it up halfway through the first ring, mostly because I don’t want to wake Him. “Hello?”

    The voice on the other end is a whisper. “There’s a car waiting outside the house. Get inside. You don’t want to ignore this.”

    “Pardon? What’s going on?”

    There’s a click and a dial tone so I put the receiver down. I start to slide out of bed and He wakes.

    “Everything okay?”

    “Fine Eddie, fine. I just need to pee.”

    I use the excuse to walk to bathroom. I look at myself in the mirror. The cut over my left eye –the one that took three stitches to fix– is almost healed. My leg is aching from where I fell down the stairs and I rub the arm where it broke last year while I stare at the sink.

    Finally I flush the toilet in case He’s still awake and walk back to the bedroom. When I get there He’s asleep, thank God. I still feel sick after last week’s fist-induced abortion and really don’t want to be pawed and penetrated again tonight.

    I glance out the window and see the lights at the end of the driveway. There really is a car sitting there. Do I dare? Is this one of His friends? Is it some twisted trick he’s devised to test me?

    I put on the dress I hate, the one that comes about halfway down my thighs. No underwear. That way if it is just another rape my clothes don’t get torn. He hates when my clothes get torn. A pair of slip-ons completes my victim ensemble.

    I grab my purse as an afterthought on the way out the door. There’s always money in my purse; a couple of grand, in fact. He makes me carry it in case he or his friends need some. Beats the hell out of selling my body to raise quick cash, especially since afterward He’d just beat the hell out of me for infidelity.

    When I get to the car there’s a woman in the driver’s seat. It’s Dana, Eddie’s sister.

    “Take that damned dress off and get in the back. You’ll find new clothes there.”

    I do as she says. In the back of the car is a sport bag containing panties, jeans, a tee-shirt and the first bra I’ve worn in two years. She drives while I dress.

    When I’m finished I ask, “Why are you doing this, Dana?”

    “I don’t like the way Eddie treated you. You were his slave for three years. I decided to rescue you from that.”

    “Thank you, but that doesn’t really tell me why you’re freeing me.”

    “Freeing you? Fat chance; you’re my slave now.”

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