Transparency

Tertia Van Rensburg, via Unsplash

But can you walk through walls?

The Prompt: You bolt awake … but you’re not immediately sure what awakened you. You blearily fumble for your cell phone to check the time, but as you reach for the bedside table, you gasp—your hand passes through the oak nightstand as if it were composed of nothing but mist. After a moment, you raise your hand up in front of your face to discover that it is not the nightstand that is no longer solid, but your disconcertingly translucent hand. What has happened?

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


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205 thoughts on “Transparency

  1. Jennifer Park

    Barbara woke up with a gasp. She felt like she had been in a very long dream about her life; or rather, like she had just lived her whole life, but it felt like it had been a dream. She knew for sure that she hadn’t dreamt. Only, that she was waking up from her own life.

    The space was dimly lit from a slit of light that was coming from the wrong direction. She tried to block it, but the light seemed to shine right through her hand, as if her hand was not there. Or as if her hand was transparent. This added to her disorientation. She tried to reach for the light again. She was sure she was touching the wall or whatever on which there was the crack, but, again, her hand passed right through it, and the light still shone through her hand.

    She felt a small itch on her right thigh. She tried to scratch it. She could feel her hand moving, but she could not feel anything on her fingertips or her thigh.

    The itch increased.

    “S***,” she muttered, but no sound came out. She could feel her mouth moving, her jaw clenching, but no sound, and no sensation indicating that the ancient skin folds on her neck were flapping.

    That was the decisive evidence. The poison had failed. Complete immobility coupled with phantom proprioception was common when waking up from an underdose of subcutaneous stearohypobotulin.

    Her eyes began to adjust to the light, confirming that she was in fact in a coffin made of Ektui, the calcified interior of a local tree. The distant brassy polyphony and booming drumbeats of Kas aTeui Bu further corroborated that she was at her own funeral.

    “F***!” She kicked against the coffin. Again, no feedback.

    Except for a quiet knock from someone, with a “Khhhh.” Kryzlam for “Shhh.”

    Apparently she had made some noise. Barbara decided to heed the advice.

    ====================

    The coffin lid did not open until long after Barbara had soiled herself.

    “Amabassador.” It was General eiPakzheAmuniAbum, or Amu-Amu, the last in line for the throne of the smallest of the three Kryzlam kingdoms, once—correctly—suspected of spying for Earth. She smiled her best Earthling-like smile, which was well-meant, but creepy as hell.

    “Princess,” Barbara slurred, still largely immobile.

    “Please bear us until… U’Uma, puKomat! [Ancestors, this here smell!]”

    The princess shut the lid.

    A few minutes later, she returned, holding her probosces end-to-end. She could still smell, though, judging by her shudder. “Pardon me… That was… Anyway… I apologize the antidote… work too quickly. Please bear us until… your… disposal…”

    Barbara phantom-frowned. That did not sound too good.

    “My… partisans… decide you live more useful.”

    Before Barbara could protest, the Princess shut the lid again, and Barbara could hear her walk away.

    The coffin started to move slowly.

    Damn pro-Earth insurgents. Now, this was a fate worse than death.

  2. abufas

    John suddenly bolted awake. He didn’t know why, it was still quiet in the house, although he could sense that something was a bit off. But what was it?

    He turned over to see if his wife, Ann was awake as well, but found her side of the bed empty. “What’s going on?” he muttered as he reached over to grab his phone to check the time. But he must have misjudged in the dark because he couldn’t find the nightstand.

    John sat up and rubbed his eyes again to bring the room into better focus. As he reached for the lamp to give himself some light, he then noticed that his hand passed right through it. Was this a dream? He hardly ever drank, let alone did any drugs, so this couldn’t be a hallucination.

    Then, out of the corner of his eye, John saw a brief flash of light in the hall from the direction of the bathroom. It was followed by Ann’s voice, “Dammit!”

    Shortly afterwards, he heard her rummaging through the hall closet. “Aha, here they are.”

    “What’s she doing now?” John said as he got up to see what was going on. He approached the bathroom he saw her shape silhouetted against the window, standing on top of the toilet trying to reach the dark light fixture.

    As he was about to speak up to ask her to let him help, there was a loud crash, and the unmistakable sound of bone cracking. John ran in to see Ann’s still body and vacant eyes in the moonlight, a large streak of blood on the side of the tub. He fell to his knees and opened his mouth to scream.

    John suddenly bolted awake, his heart thumping hard in his chest. It was quiet in the house, but he still had a strange feeling, this seemed eerily familiar. Was he still dreaming?

    Looking over, he saw Ann’s side of the bed empty. “This can’t be the same dream,” he muttered. He reached for his phone, turning it on to see the time. Just as he grabbed it, he heard his wife mutter “Dammit” from the bathroom.

    He opened up his inbox to see if Jenkins had sent any project updates during the evening, but nothing was there. He’d have to have a talk with the night shift manager when he got into work.

    “Aha, here they are.”

    John scrolled through the remaining emails, deleting the junk mail, opening a couple others of interest. Then he looked up from his phone, eyebrows scrunched in thought for a moment. “It was a dream wasn’t it?”

    His eyes went wide, as he leapt off the bed and sprinted down the hall. He burst into the bathroom just as Ann’s foot slipped on the white porcelain, reaching out to catch her as she came crashing down with a scream

    “Thank God you were just coming in here,” she gasped.

    “Yes … I think so.”

    1. J.Fujimaru

      Oh my! I’m glad he was able to get off his phone and save her! The action scenes were well written! I also like how you told this story twice (well almost… Luckily for Ann, the ending was different) with some parallels but with different sentences and structure. That made it more interesting to read.

      There’s a rule that I like to follow in my own writing that might benefit this story. I avoid the adverb “suddenly.” Well, in general I try to avoid adverbs. In this case “suddenly” is repetitive when placed next to “bolted.” The first sentence is the first impression, so why not have a three word sentence to kick things off? “John bolted awake.” There’s power in simplicity.

  3. pven

    Daniel Hunter woke at 5 every morning, rain or shine, work or weekend. On this Sunday morning he rolled onto his left side and gazed at Diana’s lithe body, dark bare skin provocatively peeking through the white covers, and smiled. It would be another half an hour or so before she was up, giggling at him, bouncing through the room and making plans for breakfast. This moment, kept time by Diana’s light, quick snores, was a study in utopia.

    Daniel rolled over for the glass of water he kept on the nightstand, and watched as his hand passed through.

    “No,” he moaned. “Oh no, no, nonono…”. He held his hand in front of him and noted the sharp angles of the hotel room coalescing behind it.

    “I’m paid in full!” he shouted.

    “Baby?” Diana shifted.

    “I’m paid in full!” Daniel whispered. He tried placing a hand on Diana’s shoulder in reassurance, but it, too, passed through.

    “We apologize, Mr. Hunter…” a voice entered Daniel’s head.

    “I am paid in perpetuity!” Daniel replied.

    “This is true, yet you have been in this Immersion for just over seventy hours. Federal regulations prohibit us…”

    “I signed a DNR!” Daniel hissed.

    The voice paused.

    “This is true,” it responded. “At this point you are not in a condition that would invoke the power of your DNR. However, remaining within this immersion for any greater period of time may place you in a vegetative state. We would be causing you harm.
    “You may return to your Immersion after experiencing reality for the federally-mandated period of time.”

    The bedsheets began to flatten their way through Daniel’s legs. Diana murmured and shifted her body to get closer to his.

    “No, no.” Daniel pleaded. He focused on keeping his tone calm, conciliatory. “You don’t understand. When I came back this last time, it took me… It took me two days to remember her. I don’t… I don’t know if I’ll be able to do that again.”

    “The brain damage you will experience will be irreparable.”

    “I’m have Stage Five Alzheimer’s, you damned idiots! I’m already brain-damaged!”

    “Baby?” Diana murmured again.

    “Stay asleep, Sugar,” Daniel said. “Don’t wake up just yet. I’ll… come back for you. I’ll come back…”

    Daniel focused on her, trying to commit to memory her shimmering blonde highlighted hair, her deep green eyes that never failed to pull him into her round face and warm, full lips, her skin graced with filaments of down. He reached out to try to soothe her, to tell her to sleep a little while longer.

    “Baby? You having another nightmare?”

    “Baby?”

    1. Rene Paul

      Hey Pven, extraordinary work of art. I read it twice to grasp everything that was going on in your story. I especially like the line ‘He held his hand in front of him and noted the sharp angles of the hotel room coalescing behind it.’ Very creative.

    2. writer_sk

      Pven- The way you described your character’s desperate desire to stay there was really what got to me about your piece. I could not come up with a story for this prompt. I like how you handled it.

    3. J.Fujimaru

      This is beautifully written, especially this line, “This moment, kept time by Diana’s light, quick snores, was a study in utopia,” which, as I read further I realized, carried more weight and meaning than I had expected. I feel the character’s pain and I wonder what brought him to this place.

  4. mydecember76

    Hope it is enjoyable! Would appreciate any comments and constructive criticism! Thank you!
    ———————————————————————————————————————————————————-
    Several nights ago, while at the retirement gala for Dr. Gregory Sutton, one of the premier particle physicists in the world, I ran into his laboratory assistant, Steve Adams. Steve was a lanky 30-something and carried the ever-present smell that my girlfriend, Beck, referred to as a patchouli scent and to which I insisted was instead the smell of unclean armpits. Steve was out of breath with sweat pouring in rivulets down his face when we narrowly avoided a collision in the corridor outside the library.

    “Oh. Hello Steve. I was just on my way to my office. Are you alright?” I noticed that Steve was paler than usual as he hesitated for just a second and, without a word, pushed passed me toward the party that I had just left. If curiosity killed the cat, then that cat was already feeding on my guts, so I followed Steve back to the party. Just as I rounded the corner that led me back to the auditorium, I could hear the noise from the party in full swing. Steve had found Dr. Sutton and was animatedly whispering something to the good doctor. As I neared their location, I was able to make out “you’ll be killed” and the doctor’s decisive dismissal. When Steve insisted, the good doctor grabbed Steve’s arm and pushed him out a back door and into the quiet evening air. I followed. When I got to them, the doctor was threatening Steve to remain quiet or lose his professional reputation.

    “What in the hell is going on Doctor?” Dr. Sutton turned to me and went pale. “Nothing that would concern the Dean’s Office,” he simply replied. “You won’t mind if I return to the guests?” and he walked back into the auditorium. Steve turned to me and frantically spilled that the doctor had created the only high luminosity Muon accelerator using ionization cooling which is both portable and stable enough to use anywhere. This machine allows a clear, unobstructed view of the subatomic world specifically extra spatial dimensions and other subatomic phenomena.

    “Wow. Okay Steve, now tell me what’s happening as if I am four years old and take a breath, would you.” Steve complied and breathed, “Plainly, Dr. Sutton is attempting to travel to other dimensions by bombarding his body with concentrated cosmic rays. His theory is that the blast will propel him through a tiny black hole created by the particle accelerator. However, by my most recent calculations, the dense particles are much more likely to either kill him or ionize his body on a molecular level causing horrible genetic mutations. We have to stop him!”

    “Let’s find him then and sort this out.” I pulled Steve back into the auditorium where we both frantically began searching out Dr. Sutton, who was nowhere to be found. Steve’s face went dead as he said, “He must have returned to the lab.” It was Steve’s turn as he grabbed me and pulled me at a run out of the auditorium, through the maze of corridors and the empty quad to the Physics Laboratory. Just as we entered, Dr. Sutton was powering up the machine, flipping switches and creating an almost deafening electrical whine.

    Dr. Sutton then quickly positioned himself in front of the laser-looking device and with my right hand I grabbed the sleeve of Dr. Sutton’s coat just as the machine emitted a loud electrical buzz and, like a heartbeat, pulsated its energy into his chest, pushing us both backwards and knocking us to the floor.

    There is nothing after that until I was just awakened by the smell of dirty armpits.

    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      Enjoyable it was. I have no idea if the scientific patter was accurate or not, but you presented it with such confidence that I believed. The ending brought The Fly to mind.

    2. writer_sk

      Ah, December, I thoroughly enjoyed this.

      I’m a fan of the subject of time travel and also stories involving lab experiments. The scene you set struck me as comparable to the story of Dr Jeckyl and Mr Hyde since the characters were going up and down the dark streets. I loved the setting because it created a different vibe in hurrying to the lab after hours.

      I did get a little sidetracked with the clinical or business-like style you used to describe action in some passages such as “my right hand grabbed the sleeve” (you could just say I grabbed him) or the “maze of corridors/empty quad” section I got lost as to where they were going. Something like “crossing the vast campus at top speed” because then the reader is worrying about the significance of the location when it is not important. (I was like “do they all work at the same college?” Then I had to look back to clarify if it was the location of the gala.)

      Anyway. That is my critique.

      I loved the concept of your piece and the hurried dialogue of the convo they had when he follows Steve.

      My favorite was the armpit reference at the beginning and in the final line.

      I thought the skin a cat line was really clever.

      The explanation of the science behind the experiment was great.

      Hope you get this comment! SK

      1. mydecember76

        Thank you so much for the critique, SK! Having been in the legal field for far too long, I knew that I would need to pay attention to my voice. I did have the sense that the same areas you pointed out as being too clinical could have used a rewrite, but I felt compelled to just get the thing posted. I appreciate your time and your thoughts!!

  5. madeindetroit

    THE 1955 PANAMA CLIPPER

    “I see you’re not waiting for me,” Alex Archer said, sitting down across from his friend in the dim light of Louie’s lounge. Ray cradled a glass full of brown liquid between both hands. A fresh drink was waiting for Alex.

    “What’s this about, Ray? Not another woman.”

    Ray pulled a scrap of paper from his pocket. “Look at this.”

    Alex unfolded the paper. It was wrinkled photocopy of an article from the Los Angeles Times dated June 16, 1955. The headline read: PHILANTHROPIST AND WIFE PERISH IN HORRIFIC CRASH.

    “Millionaire Samuel Hemmings and his wife Clara died yesterday when their car plunged over a cliff in Topanga Canyon and burst into flames. Hemmings apparently lost control of the vehicle and plummeted one hundred feet to the canyon floor. What authorities could recover of the vehicle, a 1955 Packard Panama Clipper, was taken to the LA county salvage yard for investigation. Foul play is not suspected.”

    “Remember after college I decided to hitchhike to California—”

    “Yeah,” Alex said grinning, “we all thought you were nuts.”

    “In South Dakota, rides suddenly stopped and I was stranded in the middle of nowhere. I heard this music in the darkness. Bill Halley’s ‘Rock Around the Clock.’ You know, one, two, three o’clock, four o’clock rock …”

    Alex sat silent listening to Ray straining the rest of the words.

    “Out of nowhere this car stopped, a cherry 1955 two-tone yellow and black Packard Panama Clipper. I knew because my grandfather worked for Packard back in the day.” Ray paused and stared at the ceiling. “The driver…he was wearing a raggedy gray topcoat, a black Fedora, and leather gloves.”

    “Whoa,” Alex said, “Twilight Zone.”

    “That’s not all,” Ray said, his voice dropping to a whisper. “His face was completely wrapped in decayed, blood-stained gauze. Dark aviator sunglasses covered his eyes…or where his eyes should have been.”

    Alex laughed. “Come on man. The Invisible Man only exists in the movies.”

    “His name was Hemmings and he was driving to Los Angeles. When I told him I was from Detroit and my grandfather had worked for Packard…” Ray’s voice trailed off.

    “What did he say?”

    “He said he knew.”

    “How could he know?”

    “The radio blasted that song over and over all the way to Rapid City. At the first stoplight I opened the door and he grabbed my arm before I could leave. He said, ‘Revenge, the sweetest morsel to the mouth that ever was cooked in hell. Mine will be coming soon, boy.’”

    Alex’s wasn’t sure how to interpret what he was hearing so he kept his mouth shut.

    “When I got back home, I did some research. My grandfather was chief engineer for Packard in 1955. Production stopped when they discovered the oil pumps they were using in those V-8 engines were defective. He signed off on those engines knowing full well the pumps were defective.”

    “That’s a…a coincidence,” Alex said.

    “Two nights ago, I woke up drenched in sweat. I reached for my phone on the nightstand…and my hand passed through the nightstand as if it were nothing but mist.”

    “Ray, look at me,” Alex pleaded, “stop this nonsense now. You need to talk to—”

    “—I raised my hand up and it was… translucent. I could see right it. Hemmings promised he’d seek revenge. I’m the only left he can get it from…”

    “What do think he’s doing to you, making you…invisible one body part at time?

    Ray stammered. “I…I don’t know, but something’s evil is happening.”

    Alex hopped out his chair and grabbed Ray by the arm. “That’s it, time to go.”

    Alex paid the tab and the two walked out into the darkness. Outside, the tall buildings of Detroit gleamed bleakly beneath filtered light from a full moon and a painfully black sky.

    “Get some sleep. Things will look better in the morning. I’ll call you tomorrow,” Alex said.

    Ray got in his car, fired the engine, and bolted out of the parking lot, making a left on Woodward and stopping for a red light. Alex followed and waited for traffic to clear. He watched Ray sitting at the light, window down, lighting a cigarette and exhaling smoke into the night. He heard the music first then the words.

    “One, two, three o’clock, four o’clock rock five, six, seven o’clock—”

    A car pulled up behind Ray. Alex’s heart lodged in his throat and an icy shiver raced down his spine. Without ever laying eyes on it, knew exactly the make and model of the car. A 1955 two-tone yellow and black Packard Panama Clipper.

    “—eight o’clock rock, nine, ten, eleven o’clock, twelve o’clock rock—”

    Through the ashen glow of the street lights, Alex could see the driver. Gray topcoat. Black Fedora. Leather gloves wrapped around the steering wheel. The driver turned his head toward Alex. His face was wrapped in gauze and dark aviator sunglasses covered his eyes. The driver tipped his Fedora at him. The light turned green and Alex watched in horror as the two cars disappeared into the darkness as if they never existed.

    “—We’re gonna rock around the clock tonight…”

    1. Rene Paul

      Wow, my kind of story. Loved it! However, I spied with my critical eye a few edit problems, especially missing commas and a few passive voice sentences. Still, great story. Look forward to your next submission.

      1. madeindetroit

        Detroit is a graveyard when it comes to long-dead automobile companies and folklore. So much territory to mine…Just had to try!
        Thanks for reading and commenting. And, yes, there are a few glaring edit issues.

        Much appreciated!

        1. madeindetroit

          Indeed, my grandfather did work for Packard in the 40’s and 50’s. It was a big part of our family’s history. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  6. RafTriesToWrite

    A consonant and 3 vowels starting with I. Don’t know why I did it this way, but here it is.


    Woken up by my gut, the feeling so surreal.
    It’s so dark, where’s my phone?
    I can’t move, I also can’t feel myself.
    I think I’m awake, yet I can’t get up.
    What’s stopping me?
    I know my eyes are open, yet I only see pitch black.
    I move my arms, I know they’re doing something.
    I think I smell soil.
    Shaking. Everywhere. What’s going on?
    I feel like being lowered, sounds like I’m in a box.
    I think it’s made of wood.
    I try to speak, but no words escaped.
    Screaming doesn’t work.
    I have no voice.
    I’m scared.
    It’s too dark.
    Something’s being poured on top of my box.
    I don’t know what it is.
    I know it’s a lot.
    I’m so lonely.
    The end – it’s what I’m thinking.
    It’s too cold.
    I don’t like this.
    I faintly hear crying.
    Why do I hear crying?
    I don’t feel like I’m breathing.
    I don’t know what’s going on.
    I feel weak.
    My body shifts, as my box hit the bottom.
    I floated away.
    Is that me?
    I was being buried?!

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Forget about the mechanics, remember if you really were in your MC’s place. You may not be Edgar Allen bit you’re the next best thing. I am so happy I read this in the morning.

    1. Rene Paul

      I liked it too. But perhaps making your MC’s predicament a little less obvious would have built some suspense. Example: I can hear something like rain, but weightier, landing above me, but not on me. And, perhaps leave out the last line. Just my way of thinking. As I said, I still liked it the way you wrote it!

  7. Smileyface256

    Sophie’s eyes flew open and she instantly reached for her dagger. A cold numbness passed through her hip and she jerked away, but froze: her right hand was completely transparent. She tried to sit up, but a rope around her middle kept her down. She fought against it until she recognized her surroundings.

    Tree. She was in a tree. She’d tied herself to the branch so she wouldn’t roll over in her sleep. Right.

    In other news, the rest of her body was still solid.

    She undid the quick release knot and sat up, waving her translucent hand around and watching its particles trail behind like mist. It didn’t feel any different; she just couldn’t touch anything. “What the…” She trailed off, startled by her own voice. The past few dimensions had been void of intelligent life, and this misty marshland was especially quiet. Only the occasional bioluminescent tree broke up the landscape; everything else was misty darkness.

    Sophie checked her watch; half an hour more until the portal gun recalibrated, then she could get out of this sensory deprivation nightmare. Already she could see flickers on the edge of her vision, whispers from her past that messed with her mind. At best they were hallucinations; she didn’t want to imagine what else they could be.

    She munched on a protein bar and watched the minutes tick by, reciting various bits of “The Hobbit” from memory. It was the one book she’d managed to hang onto throughout her travels; she’d found it in a dimension parallel to her own. Sometimes it was the only thing that kept her sane.

    “Join us…”

    Sophie yanked out her dagger with her left hand. “H-hello? Who said that?”

    “We, of the mist. We wish you to join us…” The words swelled from a chorus of a thousand whispers that made Sophie’s spine tingle.

    “Join you? Why?”

    “We see your mind, your suffering. We wish to help…”

    Sophie held up her hand. “How is this helping? Did you do this?”

    “That was not our work, but the work of the Marsh.”

    Sophie remembered now; she’d tripped when she first entered this dimension and touched the ground with her hand. “So, the marsh turns people into ghosts? That’s seriously messed up.”

    “Your hand is only the beginning. We were once like you, beating out a desperate existence, traveling between worlds, homeless, friendless, lost…”

    Sophie scowled. “Not all those who wander are lost. I like to use the term, ‘explorer.'”

    “You have no home, you have lost all those you love. Join us, and your pain will end…” A tendril of mist curled up around Sophie’s ghost hand.

    She felt it and flinched away. “Don’t touch me!”

    “All you suffering will be gone, don’t you want that?”

    Sophie felt tears sting her eyes. “You mean everything will just…go away?”

    “Yes, you will be free from your mortal frame, part of an eternal whole!” The mist curled around her, waiting.

    Sophie’s hands shook. All of her nightmares, loneliness, guilt, and emotional pain could be over if she just…became a mist thing. She shook her head; wouldn’t that be the same as dying? And if she did stay here, would there be a chance of ever seeing her family again in whatever kind of afterlife they might have gone to? She alone had escaped as the world around her crumbled. Kira, the bounty hunter that had taught her how to survive while hopping between worlds, had sacrificed herself so Sophie could live to see another day. Sophie had fought so long and hard just to survive; was she really going to throw it all away so easily?

    The light on her watch blinked green. Sophie grit her teeth and drew her portal gun. “You know, not suffering any more sounds nice, but not at the cost of my life.” She blasted a hole in reality. “So long, soul suckers.”

    “NO!” The mist wrapped around Sophie’s ghost hand. “YOU WILL NOT ESCAPE US, MORTAL! YOU MUST BECOME ONE WITH THE MIST! YOU MUST–”

    Sophie yanked free and tumbled through empty space into a pile of hot sand. The portal closed behind her and she checked her hand; nice and solid, back to normal. She breathed a sigh of relief and got to her feet, shading her face from the glare of twin suns. There was a town in the distance. She sucked in a lungful of hot desert air; it was good to be alive.

    1. writer_sk

      Smiley,

      Nice work. Have you written about Sophie and the portals before? It seems familiar. This would be good as a bunch of different adventures. I would love more backstory worked into the piece.

      I enjoyed it.

      1. Smileyface256

        Thank you! And yes, I wrote about Sophie in the last prompt. She’s the most well-developed character I have right now, and I thought it would be fun to work some of her adventures into a few prompts. I’m glad you enjoyed my story. 🙂

  8. creaturescry

    He stuck his hand into the table again, a wide smile spreading across his face like butter on toast. There was about a million uses for a hand that could move through solids. He touched his cloak and picked it up, tossing it back and forth between his hands. A billion for a hand that could both go through things and hold things at the same time. He grabbed his phone off the bedside table and dialed the number for Bob’s Chicken.

    “Listen Bob,” he said as soon as the man on the other end picked up, “my hand can go through things and…”

    “Nick it’s five in the morning,” Bob yawned, smacking his lips, “and I’m trying to open shop.”

    “But my freaking hand can go through things!” Nick exclaimed, waving his free arm in the air, “see?”

    “No Nick I can’t” he groaned, the bubbling of a fryer in the background, “this isn’t some newfangled video chat!”

    “Okay! Fine! Don’t look then.”

    “Nick I’m worried about you, last week it was I’m invisible, and you do you remember what happened?”

    “I ran around naked in a mall doing bird calls,” he frowned, swinging his feet onto the floor, “how could I forget? i was arrested for that.”

    “Which is why you shouldn’t go to work today! Or outside your house! PERIOD, because I am not paying bail for a naked man again!”

    “Fine I won’t”

    Nick hung up on him and muttered to himself. His hands were going through things, he was absolutely positive about that. He shrugged to himself, maybe he was hallucinating again, and hopped off the bed. He looked at his hands again and giggled like a little kid, like he was going to listen to an old fart like Bob. He rubbed his hands together and flung the closet doors wide open, then shrieked like a little girl meeting their celebrity crush. There inside his closet was a man wearing a leather suit, black hair slicked back, and a clear glass eyepatch that showed his empty eye socket.

    “I am…” the man began, stepping out of the closet.

    “Nick Fury?!” Nick squealed, hopping up and down.

    “No I’m his cousin, twice removed, and my name is Wilbur,” Wilber spat, arms crossed, “Wilbur Heart.”

    “Oh,” Nick was a little let down, but soon built up the enthusiasm, “but you’re here to recruit me for the Avengers right?”

    “No I work for S.U.C.K.’

    “S.U.C.K?”

    “Super Ultimate Cleanup Kin,” he announced proudly, then added, “ we clean up after them.”

    When Nick didn’t respond, Wilber went on, “we could use a man like you on our team!”

    “This has got to be a prank.”

  9. Pete

    I wake up the same. The same day as any other. The same tired as I get out of bed to face a world alone. My alarm taunts me in the shadows of dawn. I float into my clothes, through the house, through my tasteless breakfast as Mom scrambles around huffing and searching for a blouse or shirt or something in a midst of sighs. I sigh too, to see if she’s listening.

    At school I drift down the halls, through the knots of smiling faces and the laughter. A bell rings and herds us to class. I watch the people who can’t see me. I sit in class, sneaking glances at the delicate features of Stacey, Dawn, Treena, and Delia. The musky bravado of Jackson and Miles.

    I eat in the hallway, away from the buzz of conversation, the scraping chairs and the rapping knuckles. Maybe it’s the way I look. My nervous blinking and nodding. How I can’t stand to be touched. Maybe I’m just better at walking through people than to people.

    I try to remember how my dad saw me. The way he ducked his head and found my eyes. How he gently nudged me with his foot, listening patiently, as though he wanted more than anything to hear what I was trying to say. When he died and it took Mom too. It set her off in a restless hurry. It took her eyes and ears. It took her soft voice and her patience. It sent her searching for something to keep her hands busy.

    To avoid me.

    I watch the kids. How they talk to each other. The way they smile and roll their eyes and shake their heads and giggle. How they laugh at the right times, triggered by some signal I cannot see or hear. Stacey and Dawn and Treena and Dalia like to tease Jackson and Miles with mock disgust but delightful smiles. The boys laugh and high five without a hitch or pause. They all know what to do and how to do it.

    I am invisible. A boy without instincts.

    I dump my pizza crust in the trash and slink along the walls of the hallway to my locker. I count the minutes as they pass, feel the quiet clicks and hums of empty classrooms. Ten seconds until the bell blasts. And there they go, stampeding through me, over me, around me without notice.

    Dinner is leftover chicken. The cream of mushroom sauce is old, runnty and lukewarm, but I cannot waste another minute to get up and reheat it. I log onto the computer, my pulse thrumming as I signt onto Dragonslair. A click and the chimes touch my ear and send a tickle behind my jaw. The messages flood the screen, urgently, demanding my attention.

    My messages.

    The forums, where my instincts are keen. Where I know what to type and when to type it. Where there is no secret code in the manners or nod of the head. Where what is said is interpreted without subtle gestures or coy smiles. Where I’m funny, smart, and maybe most of all, where I’m noticed.

    They’ve been waiting for me. I find my place in the forum. My scalp tingles. They see I’m online. And with Mom out, searching for a shirt or a solution to her restlessness, my fingers take action.

    1. rlk67

      Hope this was purely fictional. It’s not hard to imagine that people who are funny, smart and very noticed online are the shy ones who can’t seem to reveal themselves to off-line people. You’re a fine writer. Just hope this was purely fictional.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Hello Pete, I doubt anyone noticed me until I hit college. And then, I am not bragging, they were all over me. The fraternity for my grades, the professors for I listened and asked questions, the girls because of shyness but good manners. I was about to give up when it happened. And because of the previous I take joy in simple things, I don’t need a parade to be happy
        So no regrets , none at all, the loneliness.is but a memory.

    2. ReathaThomasOakley

      Pete, the writing is amazing. You’ve created a MC who is real and who stirs our emotions. You’ve included just enough detail to set the scenes, and allow us to add bits of our own experiences. I also think you’ve captured the mother perfectly. One of your best.

  10. snuzcook

    The internal world of whatever dream I was in ejected me. In darkness I lay listening, an unfinished perception teasing me awake. It could have been rain. A hazy susurrus slowly defined itself into the individual muted taps like heavy raindrops on a window.

    There should have been some dim glow of a street light or from the perimeter lights of the parking lot next door lighting my bedroom. Instead, the total darkness was suffocating. I have always hated the dark.

    I reached for the familiar oblong of my phone on the nightstand, but found no nightstand. I groped frantically but it was as if my hand were covered with cotton batting—I could not feel anything. I thought I as waking up in bed had a moment of cold panic as I realized that I did not know where I was. I could not feel the bed, or whatever it was that was under me. I could not feel wall or floor or any evidence of reality.

    The impression of rain grew louder, a pounding that seemed now to surround me. I flailed wildly, but it was as if I were in freefall, or in the deep ocean—there was no sensation of anything to push against. I tried to yell and that’s when I realized something was fitted between my teeth blocking my mouth and my nose. It had to be some kind of respirator and it was real and it had substance because I could bite against it. I tried to push it out of my mouth but it wouldn’t move and a new level of terror flooded my veins.

    A line from a movie I’d seen years ago popped into my head: “In space, no one can hear you scream.” Was that it? Was I having a nightmare about the Mars colony tragedy. I knew people who had died, people who had been on that mission…

    I flailed again, fighting the thoughts and the memories, desperately reaching for something to bring me back to a reality I could recognize. And then there was something familiar, a sensation of ants crawling across my nerves, making the deep place between my temples buzz. I was being given anesthetic through the respirator. As I lost consciousness my last impression was one of incredible brightness, as if the sun had found and embraced me.

    “Do you remember anything else, Doctor Morris?”

    “No, that was it until I woke up here in the hospital.”

    “You were lucky your assistant found you. Whatever inspired you to attempt the new sensory deprivation tank alone? Especially so soon after your illness?”

    “That was the point. I was sure that it was the only way to reconnect with the physical memory, the tissue memory of my experience, before it was irretrievable. I thought that it may hold the only clue to what really happened out there.”

    “And what you want us to believe is that you did discover something.”

    “Yes, I’m certain of it. We have to send another mission. They’re not gone! They’re still out there.”

    “But their bodies were already recovered. They were brought back when you were rescued.”

    “Yes, yes, but that was a huge mistake. Their bodies were recovered, but they, their real essence, is still out there. There’s still a chance to get them back.”

    “You realize what you are proposing has no grounding in any accepted science. You are making leaps of logic here that are unsupported. And you’re asking us to spend millions of dollars on this mission, dollars that have not been allocated.”

    “We have to try.”

    1. Kerry Charlton

      It’s so nice reading you snuz, we have been missing you. You pulled this out in the middle of a sci Fi, and for myself, I would like to see you finish it. A dynamite tale of the future, it zinged me.well and brought up all the questions that need to be answered.

  11. Rene Paul

    Oh my God, what did I do last night? I’m hallucinating again. Was it all the booze I drank? Couldn’t be, I drink all the time. Think, think. I went out with someone. Who? That girl. That’s it. She asked me to give her a ride home—she said her car wouldn’t start. I told her to call A-A-A. I was drunk and thought that was funny. I told her I’m too wasted to drive. She said let’s go to a hotel to sleep it off. I thought that was a good idea. I pulled out my wallet and asked her to hide it! Not very smart. What will my fiancée, Gloria, think of me if she found out about last night?

    Forget about it.

    And my mentor, Henry Travers, after all, he did set up a meeting for me with those two doctors, he’ll flip out.

    Last night wasn’t me.

    Ok, it’s a single blip on the screen of life. So, where is, that girl?
    “Hey there… little darling, are you in the bathroom?”
    No answer. I think the bird has flown the coop. Ok, so where did she put my clothes and my wallet?

    It’s too dark in the room to see.

    I need to turn on a light. Ah, there’s a table lamp sitting on the dresser. Wow… I missed the switch. Missed it again. It’s like it’s not there, my hand passed straight through it. Wait a minute. I’m the one that’s not here. My hand, no, make that my whole body is translucent.

    Am I going mad? No, must be some bizarre dream. Probably brought on by the knockwurst I ate last night and washed down with tequila shots and beer chasers. Weird combo. Then, that girl sat next to me.

    Ok, like I said, “forget about it. And, another thing, where am I?

    The phone on the nightstand is ringing, I try, but I can’t pick it up.
    A wispy voice makes an announcement, “Good morning Mr. Rains. This is your 8:00 am wake up call.”

    Oh no, I’m supposed to meet with those two psychos, Dr. Griffin and Dr. Kemp, at their laboratory at nine this morning. They want to pay me to be their guinea pig, something about a new drink formula they’ve invented to make people skinny without dieting. I said yes because my acting gigs have been far and few between and I need the money. But, how can I meet with them if I’m invisible?

    I need to find out if I can pass through a solid door so I can escape from here.

    No problem, right through it.
    I’m walking down the hallway.
    I’m in the lobby, people are all around me, but they pay me no mind, they can’t see me!
    I’m on the street. I’m two blocks from the lab.
    I walk up the steps to the front door and smack right into it; the force knocks me down.

    My body is no longer wholly invisible. I can make out my form, ghostly, like smoke vapor moving through the air.

    I reach for the door handle. I can grip it, so I turn it. The door opens, I step inside.

    That girl is talking with Dr. Kemp. My fiancée is standing next to her, and she has my clothes and my wallet in her hand. They turn toward my location and start to laugh. I spin around to see why. Dr. Griffin is standing behind me with a strange look on his face.
    “Mr. Rains, why are you naked?” He asks.
    That girl says, “I guess it works.”

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Oh boy, if I was Rene I would want to drop through the floor. Looks like the experiment went.off a little early
      About as embarrassing to the MC as I.have ever read. Really enjoyed the ride.

      1. Rene Paul

        Thanks, Kerry. I had fun writing it. The hidden elements are all the names are taken from the original Invisible Man story and the actor that played the lead role, Claude Rains. Oddly enough, my brother’s name is Claude and people call me Rain.

      1. Rene Paul

        Thanks, RTO. Motivation, when flavored with either power, money, or greed can be a powerful elixir to stir one’s emotions and actions. In this case some humorous exploits.

    2. pven

      So I have questions.
      Why can the Doctor, fiancee, and girl see the MC if the people in the lobby can’t?
      Why does the MC even reach for the door handle after successfully passing through a few solid doors on the way to the Doctors’ office? And why would the guy go to the Doctors’ office if he didn’t think they’d be able to see them?
      Why would that girl want to start the experiment outside the controlled environment of the Doctors’ labs?

      That said, I absolutely love the idea of a weight loss formula causing the subject to turn translucent.
      You’ve got all the seeds of a great caper: mystery girl, crazy mad scientists experimenting in a way that yields unintended consequences, and a fiancee apparently in on the whole thing.

      No doubt all the answers to my questions would be answered in such a tale not constrained by a minuscule word count. I’d love to read that!

      1. Rene Paul

        PVEN, thanks for reading and critiquing my story. Here are the best answers I can give. The people he walks past are in the lobby of the hotel he just left. He’s completely inviable at this point, and he’s on his way to keep his appointment with the good doctor. By the time he reaches the lab, the power of the drug is lessening. He bumps into the door. He’s materializing again. So, he’s able to grab the doorknob, turn it, and open it. Why he went to the lab, and why did ‘That Girl’ start the experiment outside a controlled situation is ripe for conjecture. I leave it up to you. Thanks again.

  12. Beebles

    Science fiction, heavy on the fiction. But hey, never mind the science, look at the word count!
    ———————————-
    If he had woken up in his bed…

    …if his arm had passed through the night-table, reaching for the alarm…

    … that would have been a miracle.

    Instead of the alarm clock, it was the trilling of the Pontecorvo Chamber that roused him. The incessant, distant cheep cheep, like a shop-bought chicken dinner’s eulogy, filled his half-cooked brain. It signaled the process was complete.

    The chamber’s disinfected brightness assaulted him as he opened a bird-like eye. When a truce was reached between them, he opened the other.

    He saw the chamber’s roof meters above his head, the Beta strobes hanging like shower heads, throbbing in their deathrows.

    But had it worked?

    What did he feel?

    Nothing.

    Twisting his head to the right. Then left. He smiled. Then laughed. An eerie flat sound that died in the chamber almost before it was born.

    He did not care. Success was evident.

    He floated, half in, half out of the floor. He could move his arm up and down, in and out of the solid white lead. And he felt nothing. Nothing in his new body interacted with anything in the real world. In that moment he knew, he could pass, as if shot from an accelerator, through a light-year of steel and he would not slow, would not diminish.

    The process had worked.

    He existed now in another world.

    He was comprised purely of neutrinos.

    Elation exploded within him. He wanted to swim in the sub atomic world. Wanted to explore what his new body could do, what he could see.

    Wait until he told Lydia.

    He went to raise himself, but in a moment of alarm discovered he had no purchase. Of course not. He could not exert any force on his surroundings. He could move his reconfigured muscles, twist his limbs, but he remained where he was.

    Not quite.

    Desperate, he looked around him. It was then he perceived his field of view fading. He was sinking through the floor. Like a man in quick sand he saw his body disappearing, particle by particle, creeping relentlessly, inexorably through the solidity of the real world.

    The other world.

    The world he had left behind.

    As the darkness of the chamber’s floor structure closed in on him only one thought played on the tightening strings of his mind.

    Gravity.

    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      Beebles, nice to see you. Great piece, with so many perfect phrases, chicken dinner’s eulogy, the battle of the eyes, the shower head strobes, wonderful as usual.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I agree with everything said here. I wonder if anyone else.Picked up on the MC’s leaning toward sadness and inevitable conclusion.he.wsd.headed for.

    2. pven

      Clever. You write about the question I’ve been asking in a few of these stories: if someone’s translucence means they can walk through vertical barriers, what’s stopping them from falling through the horizontal ones?

      I also appreciate your treatment of sound. “Then laughed. An eerie flat sound that died in the chamber almost before it was born.” You evidently understand enough of the science to be dangerous.

      Just like your MC…

  13. ShamelessHack

    “Ruby!”
    “Anyone? Anyone know the answer?”
    “Ruby! I said Ruby!”
    Beep. “Ruby!
    “Correct, Jeff. The answer is Ruby, the birthstone for July.”
    “Hey! I said ‘Ruby’ three times! No one heard me!”
    “OK, let’s move on.”
    “I’ll take U.S. Battles for $200.”
    “The answer is, Lincoln gave his ‘Four Score and Seven Years Ago’ speech at which battlefield?”
    “Gettysburg! Gettysburg!”
    Beep. “Gettysburg!”
    “Correct, Amy. The battle of Gettysburg.”
    “Wait! Wait. I said it before Amy! Didn’t you hear me?”
    “Very good, Amy.”
    “But, but I…”
    “I’ll take Famous Novels for $400.”
    “The answer is, H.G. Wells called this famous novel ‘his disappearing act.’”
    “Ooh, ooh, I know! Damn it! My thumb’s going right through the beeper button.”
    Tick, tick, tick. “No one’s got it?” Beep! “The novel is ‘The Invisible Man.’”
    “Aughh! Can’t anyone hear me?”
    “OK, Jeff has $2,100 and Amy has $3,600…”
    “What about me?!”
    “…and right after the break we’ll move on to Double Jeopardy!”
    “Curse you, Trebeck!”

    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      Hack, as I read I was taken back to old SNL Jeopardy bits with Sean Connery and Burt Reynolds and at least one invisible contestant. Fun piece.

    2. Rene Paul

      Hey, shameless, fun piece. Well done, kept me interested all the way. If you read my story, every character is straight out of the invisible man. Again loved your take on the prompt.

    3. pven

      It’s the little details that make your writing enjoyable. Like the inclusion of the “Beep” whenever anyone else answers. ‘cuz your MC can’t buzz in.

      But… one detail escapes me. When did Jeopardy stop making everyone respond in the form of a question?

  14. MoiraiTQ

    Don sees his body lying on the bed below. He hears his cell phone alarm going off on the nightstand next to the bed. Why isn’t he shutting it off? Can’t he hear it? Then the realization of his death perculated into his conscience. He sinks down to the bed to shut the alarm off. He doesn’t want to bother his roommate with that really annoying alarm. He reaches over to pick up his phone, but he cannot lift it. His hand goes through solid materials. It seems that things are slow in sinking in for him. He tries touching the bed. The same thing happens. His hand goes right through it.

    Don turns his head towards the door, as he hears voices from the other room. The door is flung open by his roommate and the EMTs. George freezes in his spot behind the EMTs and his mouth opens in shock. Don is focused on George and doesn’t realize that the EMTs have reached right through him to get to his body. He hears the voices and can understand them, but he cannot speak to them. His mouth will not form the words that his mind is thinking.

    He thinks about going over to George. As he is forming this thought, he realizes he is moving over there. He wants to tell him it’s OK. He’s just fine. But he cannot make George understand that he’s not in pain or hurting. Don does want that alarm to stop. At that point, the EMT closest to the nightstand does shut if off. She turns to George and hands it to him. As her arm and hand holding the phone pass through me, she shivers a little. Just as George does when he takes it from her. They look at each other and shake their heads.

    She goes back to her work and George sinks into himself a little. Again, she is speaking to George. She’s asking George if I’ve taken any pills or had any suicidal thoughts. George tells them that I was healthy as far as he knew and that I didn’t contemplate suicide. He mumbled that I had a date that night.

    I started rising to the ceiling again. Poor George. I wished I could help him. I wonder what happened to me. How did I die?

    1. MoiraiTQ

      I want to explain this one.

      After reading reading it again and again, Hack’s messages, a good night’s sleep, and things I have to say out loud, this was me writing about my father’s recent passing. I tried to find a creative way to write about him, but it came out as a cliche. Perhaps when I’m more ready to write about him, it will come out better.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Moirai, I am so sorry to hear about your father’s passing. The time will come when the sorrow lessens and your memories of being with him will flood your mind and cause you to smile. At least that’s what happened in my case
        I understand the theme you used here and if you wrote this way, your Dad certainly approved of it. It is of course a very moving tribute .

      2. ReathaThomasOakley

        Moirai, writing personal stories is always difficult and emotional. My father died relatively young, even though he was an older dad, and I still can only write about him from a distance. As Kerry wrote, this was a moving tribute.

      3. pven

        Moirai, my condolences. Rest assured, your father will appear in many of your other stories without your being aware of it until later.

        Mine does all the time.

        It’s kinda bothersome.

  15. brookefischbeck

    I lie in my bed, not able to fall asleep with the buzzing of the outside traffic keeping me awake. My thoughts are filled with the events of my 14th birthday party earlier that day. I couldn’t believe that Katie, my best friend, would humiliate me in front of all of my friends on my birthday. Sometimes I wished that I could disappear. I snarled at the dark room and climbed out of bed, the cold tile freezing my feet and sending a chill through me.
    I reached for my glass of water, and froze as my hand passed right through it. I tried for it again, then again, frantically. As my hand passed through the table I knew that it wasn’t the cup that was transparent, but me. I thought back to my wish to be invisible. Of all the wishes I had made in my life, this one had to come true.
    I stumbled and fell through my bed, not believing nor wanting to believe that this was happening to me. Me, who was always a good little girl at school and to my friends. I sat on the floor, which I could still feel. And then, a horrible thought came to me.
    What if I would never go back to being solid?
    I screamed, but no sound came out.
    I couldn’t speak, either? No way. No freaking way this was happening.
    I lied down on the floor, mind racing.

    I jolted. Katie laughed at me. “Brooke, what are you doing? Come on, let’s get cake.”
    I laughed with her, shaken from my little daydream about being invisible.
    “One sec, I need to go pee.”
    I ran into my bathroom, and tried to turn on the faucet.
    My hand ran right through the handle.
    And it was then I knew that there was something bigger than me going on here.
    Something that only Katie, my supposed best friend, knew about

  16. BBwrites

    Words from this evenings latest argument float through my head. I lie in bed, staring at the ceiling. Jake lies beside me, his back to me, facing away. My thoughts race.
    Things had been difficult recently. People said married life would be tough, but they left out just how tough it would be. Jake has noticed things about me, that at once were charming endearing idiosyncrasies, now were the things he began to despise. I have never been one for sharing, never one to speak out loud about every thought I have or had. And that began to annoy him. He would ask me why I would keep things a secret, hide things from him. Why I was so cold, so empty.
    When really, it was not that at all, but I simply was not as transparent as he would like for me to be.
    I allow myself to close my eyes. Try to shut out the harsh words from the evening, tell myself I’m a good wife, I’m a good wife, I’m a good wife.
    My eyes snap open, and I realise I had managed to fall asleep for a while. I feel as if I had been shoved awake, a rude awakening from an alarm or a disgruntled husband. But there is no alarm. Jake is sleeping beside me, undisturbed.
    The house remains silent. I glance at my phone, and although the child in me is whining for more sleep, the millennial that I am reaches out.
    I frown. My hand misses. I reach out again and my fingers slice through. I swallow, the blood rushing through me beginning to pound in my ears. What is happening?
    I bolt upright and look down at my hands. My eyes widen in horror.
    The moonlight beams through the blinds, illuminating myself. My skin is a faint papery white, which glitters a tinge of green. I wiggle my fingers, and see my bones wiggle back. Looking down at my body I realise I am looking through my own skin. I leap up from the bed. Gingerly, I reach out to the wall in front of me, and my hand goes straight through into the cold night. I snatch my hand back and swallow. Slowly kicking a foot out infront of me, it too disappears through the wall.
    The words from our argument start to replay in my bed. He wants me to grow up, to act like an adult, act like a wife. Tell him my thoughts, my feelings, explain my actions.
    I glance at him sleeping, and then look up outside at the dark, starry night sky.
    So open, so inviting, so free.
    I go to grab Jake to shake him awake, but my hands slide straight through. He awakes as I yell his name. He asks me what happened. Like I know.
    He said he wants me to be more open. More clear. More transparent.
    He stares at me, horrified and mystified all at once.
    “This is what you wanted, isn’t it?” I ask him.
    I step out of the wall, out of the side of the house. Into the open.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Whoa, this scene is mesmerizing and powerful. It appears your MC is getting a little help in training her husband and probably about time she did. I can not imagine going through this myself without losing it, but you illustrate how staunch she is. Your last two sentences tell the entire story. If he doesn’t drop dead from fright, maybe he will behave himself. If not, well, there always “Goodbye Jake.

    2. BBwrites

      Thank you all for your lovely comments! This is my first post and I never show my writing to anyone or anywhere, so this was a huge pleasure to log in and receive!

    3. ReathaThomasOakley

      BB, for a first post this was very well done. You gave us an MC who is real and who deserves our compassion. How wonderful she is able to use her transparency to escape. See you next week.

  17. GrahamLewis

    LAST TIME

    Something woke me, but I don’t know what. I do know is it’s still something dark-thirty, and I have more sleep time. If I can doze off again. Half-awake, I flop my right hand toward the nightstand, to hit the nature sounds button on my clock radio, so I can drift off to the sound of seagulls and crashing surf.

    My hand falls through the air and down to the side of the bed. Odd. Oh well. I drift back to sleep, and wake to the sound of real birds outside my windows. I try to raise myself on my elbow to see the time, but nothing happens, like there’s nothing there. Still on my back, I raise my arm and see only its pale outline, with the bones a darker gray. Definite translucence.

    Oh oh. Think, think. I remember falling into bed last night, after a few drinks with friends. Okay, more than a few. Did I remember to take the restorative? Obviously not. I look at my left arm. Still solid. My right leg is beginning to pale, but the left is still there. I have time. I push myself up with my good arm and limp toward the bathroom.

    I feel the paleness spreading. My left arm is weakening, but I manage to pull open the medicine chest and grab the pill jar. I hate childproof lids. After considerable struggle I manage to get it open and onto its side. A whole slew of pills slide out. I only need one. I’ll put the rest back later. If there is a later. My right leg is all but gone, and the left is weakening. I slide down to what would be my knees. I brush one pill from the counter with the fading left hand and manage to work it into my mouth. Water would be nice, but finding and filling a glass is now out of the question.

    I force the pill down, hating that dry and chalky taste, and spread myself onto the floor. I hope I was in time. I think so. I feel a slow warmth spread through my body, and feel the familiar tingle of my body’s return. It’s hard enough being of the undead without having to remember to take the nightly restorative.

    Maybe next time I’ll remember. If I forget for too long, of course, that will be the last time.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Zombie time is it? Had no idea they drank because I always close my eyes when I see one. This is eerily true the way you’ve written it. Scared the beehosolah out of yours truly. I don’t believe beehosolah is a word but it ought to be and suggesting he take two aspirin and go to bed isn’t a wise thing to say. A real fun trip to read this. Excellent writing.

    2. writer_sk

      GL- well done. I liked the use of the word “restorative” – I knew what it meant instantly.

      It was expressive how you painted the visual of lying on the bathroom floor feeling the paleness spread.

      Nice

  18. Kerry Charlton

    LOVE ETERNAL

    Something had awakened Brian, he wasn’t sure what as he looked out the double window across the room. Snow and ice had formed on the frosted glass and the night appeared colder then he was used to. He reached for his phone, quietly so as not to awaken his wife Lanore who slept blissfully unaware of the weather. When his hand passed through the night stand, he was only partly surprised.

    Secretly, he had visited an old school buddy who was head of Mercy Hospital, for an evaluation as to his cancer’s onward march to his finality. “Two to four months, Dr Paul Willingly had told him and then admonished his failure to take any further treatment lest his wife found out.

    “A burning love affair at your age,” Willingly had half joked with Brian But as he listened to his old friend, he realized love across many years can take many turns. In this case as the years piled on them, Lanore and Brian’s love had soared to new heights. Unknown to Brian was the fact his wife did know the circumstances for Paul has thrown away the medical code and told Lanore.

    The last three weeks, they had flown to Paris on a second honeymoon to visit the city of lovers and lights. The Moulin Rouge was a stop as well as the Paris Flea Market . The couple blended well with the young in love and collected far more smiles than they could ever realize. As they returned to Billings, Brian knew his time was close but put on a front that he knew would not alarm Lanore.

    She had played her part well and mused the fact that throughout her married life, she had walked a half step in front of Brian but he never realized .Miss Kitty, their twenty pound calico knew of course and as Lanore rose and felt her husbands face, she knew as well.

    Miss Kitty was staring across the bedroom and suddenly jumped off the bed, pranced to the far side and started rubbing her neck in thin air. ‘So they do see after all’, Lanore thought as she walked next to Miss Kitty and placed her hand where she thought Brian’s might be. Miss Kitty approved of course and purred contently.

    Brian watched as his wife had drawn near and he held her hand tightly but it had passed through hers like a shadow.. Still he knew she had felt something for she raised her left hand and blew him a final kiss. He knew she would be fine without him for it proved to her that love can transfer from death back through to life. He kept that thought as his eyes started to water from the brilliant light as it approached from the double window.

    One final look at Lanore and as he was pulled toward the light, she walked beside him until he disappeared even from Miss Kitty’s sight. . The cat twisted herself between Lanore legs as she quietly approached and hesitantly took another glance at her husband who had passed so gently and carefully. Miss Kitty jumped upon the bed and lay across Brian’s chest, as Lanore placed the phone back on the cradle she had just picked up and joined her husband for one last goodbye.

    ‘There’s plenty of time for 911’ she thought as she lay next to Brian and took his cold hand and placed it near to her heart. Miss Kitty nodded approval and closed her eyes.

    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      Kerry, what a beautiful and powerful love story this is. You’ve included your romantic ideals and faith and even Miss Kitty perfectly. I am curious about Billings, where I lived for many years, as your setting.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you Reatha for your wonderful thoughts. I came close to losing it as I wrote this story. I used Billings because I wanted a cold setting for them but couldn’t think of any place colder except Minot

        1. Bushkill

          Oh and that little town is a precious little piece of frozen wonderland for weeks at a time.
          I got a chill just reading the name.

          good story, Kerry. Precious in all the right ways.

          1. Kerry Charlton

            Thank you Bushkill, I began to think I might be getting to close to reality to feel comfortable. I just hope when I see the light I won’t stumble over some one who says
            ” What in hell are you doing here?

          2. Bushkill

            That’s pretty funny. You’ll be fine. But you have a wealth of writing left to do here so don’t go running with scissors or anything.

    2. J.Fujimaru

      Kerry, this is a lovely story. You captured the emotion of this “burning love affair” so beautifully. I feel a bit more hopeful about love and death reading this.

      And I had to google Billings because I felt left out. Everyone seems to know about it.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thanks J.F. FOR YOUR REVIEW..This was a little tough for me because of all the friends we are beginning to lose in death
        .Three this year already.

  19. J.Fujimaru

    Life Underground

    It starts with something small, so easily ignored. The truth is, I don’t remember when it began but I have a feeling it was around the time they installed those energy saving escalators in the subway stations.

    It was our first Asia post and I was still adjusting. Tokyo is huge. The subway is a labyrinth. I was always tired and something about the darkness underground, the yellow lighting, and the rattling speed lulled me to sleep. So that’s where I would take my naps like all the salesmen did, except, they took the loop line so that they’d eventually end up at the start. Me, I would wake up at the end of some line. I’d get out and see what it was like up there. I quickly learned that all the suburbs look exactly the same however far apart they are. It’s disorienting. But that’s beside the point.

    You see, as a housewife, you never go out at the normal times. Often I was the only one in the station and the only one to use the escalators. They weren’t turned off but they wouldn’t budge unless you got on. It never worked for me. I just climbed.

    Soon I realized it wasn’t just the escalators.

    We moved into a modern apartment with automated appliances on the 42nd floor. It was a coffin compared to the apartment we had in Rabat but the government was paying for it. No complaints. This was also when he started coming home late. Sometimes he didn’t at all. At the time, I still thought it was work. There was the hostage crisis so I figured he was busy. Looking back, I’m not sure how he found the time. But that’s beside the point. You see, I got used to doing things on my own but the evenings were difficult. I didn’t get lonely, nothing like that. It’s just, the lights wouldn’t stay on for me. The first time it happened I was making a soufflé. It was 3 a.m. and I probably shouldn’t have been cooking. It went pitch black. I jumped up and ran. Nothing. I got my tennis racket and waved it at the motion sensors. Nothing. They decided I wasn’t there. From then on I started cooking before sundown or sometimes I wouldn’t eat. I didn’t think it was a good idea to tell him. My husband had enough to worry about, especially when it came to me.

    Things got weirder from there but I didn’t pay it any mind until that night of the Gala. Our third year in Tokyo was coming to an end. I was hoping for another post in Africa but my husband had different hopes and the Ministry agreed. This was also the time that I became suspicious, not of Ministry but of my husband. Well, I think the first sliver of it came years before. But that’s not the story I want to tell.

    The Gala was held at the Lion, the old beer hall with the red brick arches and the folksy harvest fresco behind the bar. The Russians were hosting. They gave me a one-song slot between Ivan, the genius trumpeter turned diplomat and a classic pianist. I was invited because the genius knew me from my volunteer days back in Nouakchott. My “glory days.” Well, time has a way of inflating memories. In Nouakchott, we were surrounded by desert on three sides and when we weren’t swimming in the Atlantic or working there wasn’t much else to do. We threw parties. They weren’t extravagant, not at all, so I didn’t have any qualms about singing in front of everyone. This was years back when I still had girlish dreams and career goals. It was in this euphoria on a desert beach that I also met my husband. It’s weird to think of how long ago that was.

    My reunion with Ivan was not a happy one. He gave me a look when I walked in the Lion. My husband and I had put on our own show at Ginza station. It was classy. Tears, etc. I won’t go into the details. We arrived late but just in time for me to jump in with Billie Holiday, “All of Me.” I choked up. In front of everyone I lost my voice.

    Everything that happened after that wasn’t nearly as tragic. I had accepted my condition. I spent a lot of time in the subway staring at my feet, or rather, at my ankles; my feet disappeared right about at the heals. Maybe I hoped someone would notice. My husband had already given up. I don’t blame him. I used to. But it was clear by the time my feet disappeared that it wasn’t his career that had been keeping me from mine. It was my oncoming transparency.

    I wasn’t really surprised when it took over. One morning I just woke up like that. I should have been scared. I should have, but somehow I had always known. As a girl I never felt quite there. My parents used to yell. They aimed cups at each other that would bounce off the walls and go right through me. Even when my father finally left I didn’t feel it. That’s why I can’t say exactly when it began. I think it was always in me.

    Even now I have normal days. Sometimes I’m there. I have to get out of bed, open doors, and cook breakfast like any normal person would. Sometimes.

    Sometimes I wish I could be part of the subway. It reaches its web to the outskirts of Tokyo, cocooning it, letting it breath. It brings sense to the city I don’t understand. Sometimes I think about the workers who excavated the subways; they sacrificed their bodies for that monster and now they are part of the brickwork. It reminds me of the Pyramids in Egypt. I like the desert but I’d prefer to be underground. I like the idea of a beam supporting one of the many tunnels and all the buildings up top. You won’t even see it when you zoom by but the wind passes through. Is it easier to breath down there?

    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      Wonderful piece, great writing. I like how so much is told with the asides such as, But that’s not the story I want to tell. and the hints of the past.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        A very complicated piece but stirring to the mind. It was a mind-bending trip reading this. Thank you Sometimes I wonder how my mother survived my father. I think he wanted her to disappear but the joke was on.him. she outlived him eleven years and never missed a step. I learned a lot from their example and it has served me well. 50th anniversary next month.

        1. J.Fujimaru

          Kerry, your mother must have been very tough to have been able to put up with that.

          I wonder too whether I’ll be able to learn from the relationship of my parents. It’s encouraging to hear about success stories. I still have a long way to go. Thank you for sharing your experience and congrats to you and your loved one! 50th, wow!

    2. Bushkill

      I found this curious. I know little of the subways and about the same of the culture … Apologies…

      This was haunting and a bit circular. I think that added to its Mistique.

      1. J.Fujimaru

        Bushkill, thank you for your comment. I lived there for a few years and the culture still mystifies me. Fortunately, I’ve figured out the subways but that took a while too.

    3. Big Tastey

      Thank you for commenting on my story J. Yes, I believe the air is easier to breathe down there, even though it is, at times, more thick. It’s also, somehow, more honest, (more pure?). Anyway, I loved your story!

      1. J.Fujimaru

        Thank you Big Tastey. I definitely didn’t expect anyone to reply to my MC’s question! What a pleasant surprise! I think you might be right about the air being more honest.

  20. Bushkill

    “Jiminy Crickets!”

    Hardly a statement of the profound, but my mind is in shock and still just over 100% sleep-fogged, so it will have to do.

    At the end of my arm, my hand has become less than solid. I don’t know what caused it. Certainly, the dream I had, racing among the clouds like a frog on lily pads, could have had something to do with it.

    Possibly, the late night snack of past-its-prime cheese and fermenting orange juice could have swift kicked my mind into aberrational thinking.

    The recent surgery provided me with medication, so perhaps it’s the meds.

    Or, maybe, the mushrooms. I don’t normally eat fungus, well, aside from the cheese, though that was probably more a mold.

    Oh, and the sleep-fog thing was improving because I could now clearly discern that the phase shift on my hand had wandered up a full third of my arm.

    My elbow tingled.

    Not very reassuring.

    And then it stopped as the spreading malfeasance continued its advance. I wanted to scream, but doing so would wake my wife, and, as a man, there is no problem I can’t handle on my own anyway.

    Really, I got this.

    I throw the covers off and swing my legs over the side of the bed but just before I go to stand, I notice that my feet are also transparent. “For the love of Pete.”

    More prophetic, perhaps, than a Disney character, but my situation warranted an elevation in diatribe.

    I wanted to slide back onto the bed, to bring my legs up and look at them, but now my other hand had started to radiate this strange, dimension-shifting malignancy.

    Problem, my bladder was full and I am past forty. That means I am often up at night anyway. So how do I manage getting the job done with limbs that are incorporeal?

    I looked over at my clock. One more minute until the alarm. I hate the alarm. The very sound of the thing is an indication that I failed in my first task of the day. I loathe the sound and brace for its remorseless tone. When it comes, I can’t shut it off. The joke’s on me.

    My wife rolls over and swats at the alarm, trying to silence it, and I fear that she will hit me in the process but her arm passes through my insubstantial state with ease and thunders into the alarm clock. She grabs it, unfamiliar with my clock’s particular features, and slams it twice into the table, mashing it to pieces.

    I wanted to shout but my voice no longer worked and slowly my hearing faded. I looked at my wife in stunned disbelief and she smiled, I could see the pillow through her head. My mind retreated, but she pulled me closer, her hands capable in their ghostly state of affixing to my similar disposition of matter.

    She whispers, “Really? Who does cheese and OJ?”

      1. Kerry Charlton

        It appears to me with this much talent you should be writing stories in the macabre. Something like Inner Sanctum, a radio show in the 1940’s. You can buy the shows on the internet and listen on a dark, damp, dreary night. You think you’ve seen horror? Watch what your imagination can do to you.

        1. Bushkill

          Much appreciated, sir. I enjoy writing the short stories with a light touch. I doubt I’ll ever have the deft touch .. Though daft I’ve got nailed down fairly well.

  21. Cafer

    It was a pulling feeling like I never experienced before. My eyelids fluttered as I awoke, fully conscious of everything around me. I turned on my left side and felt for my phone to check the time, but no luck. I figured I was inches away, and most of the time I could pick up my phone with my eyes closed. I sat up, and reached again, but something strange occurred. My hand fell through the table. Again, I tried, and the same result happened. This time, I felt my breathing becoming heavy with my eyelids flickering faster. A soft, light blue hue was my guide for light. I turned my head and noticed my physical body sleeping peacefully on its back. It quickly registered that I was Astral Projecting. The first time I had ever done it, and boy were they right. It was a strange feeling. Somehow, I remembered my practice and told myself not to become excited or frantic. 1…2…3…4. I rose up higher, closer to the ceiling, now seeing a less versioned birds eye view of my room. What to do? I could go anywhere, that’s what I can do. I hovered to the window and glided right through the glass. The street light was brightly shining yellow, and below it was my red Convertible. I made my way past it, and found myself floating towards a figure that was just down the street. A white aurora surrounded it, and as I came closer, the features were now more defined. It was a woman with a gentle smile and innocent face.
    “Hello Joshua. Do you know who I am?”
    “No.” I spoke, and she went on.
    “I am your spirit guide. This is where the subconscious and physical world meet.”
    “Arielle?”
    “Yes, that is the name they gave me. It means The Lion of God, where David settled in Jerusalem.” There was silence after, as I was left awestruck at what I was witnessing. “You look confused Joshua.”
    “I… I have so many questions, but I can’t seem to come up with anything.”
    “Don’t worry. With whatever you ask, I will advise you the best I can.”
    “Why are we here?” I finally said. Of course, it was the most cliché question there was, but it was the most frequent that I thought about.
    “This is a very tough question Joshua, as many people are in search for this answer, but I will do my best, so you can gain some peace. You are here, on this planet, to grow. To understand everything that has and will happen to you. This is very different from person to person, and constantly changes based on who you are and the actions you take in your short life here. Like you know, there is the perception of good and evil. That’s what it comes down to, a perception of thinking. There is a greater cause beyond these plane, and in time, you will find that out.” The sentence ended, and I faded back to where I started losing all feeling in my body. The rush came back, and I awoke with a start, trying to comprehend what had just happened.

  22. ReathaThomasOakley

    A Marie Story
    September 4, 1954

    Marie opened her eyes, but couldn’t tell what woke her up. If there’d been a noise, everything was quiet now. The twin beds across the room were empty, so it had to be after seven, Mama and Aunt Ida went to work early on Saturdays, their half days at the laundry.

    Slowly she pushed the sheet off, sat up, and felt for her shorts on the floor. Today she was supposed to wash clothes, if it wasn’t raining. The room was dim, but it always was, the plastic flowered drapes were never pulled back, but the windows were open, to catch a breeze, and it didn’t smell like rain.

    As she walked barefoot across the room Marie hardly glanced at the dresser’s triple mirror. She didn’t have to, she knew what she’d see, nothing. That had been happening a lot, the closer the first day of school got.

    Downstairs Granny was sitting at the dining room table with last night’s paper and her big scissors, cutting out obituaries. She didn’t look up.

    “Grits on the stove, put a little water in if you gonna heat ’em up. You want an egg, you cook it.”

    In the kitchen Marie heard the snip, snip, snip of the scissors. Musta been a good day, she thought as she took the pot to the sink. She was tempted, as she often was, to pull the tattered handkerchief down from the top of the radio on the window sill. Granny’d sent a dollar to some radio preacher who’d laid his hands on the cloth. Now, whenever he was on the air Granny’d stand with her eyes closed and her hands on the cloth, muttering “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.”

    They, Mama, Aunt Ida, and Granny, still talked about the big trip to Jacksonville in ’49, to see Oral Roberts. Didn’t help my daddy none, Marie thought as she scraped the hard grits into the sink, turned on the water, and watched the mess wash down the drain, then she filled the pot to soak.

    “I been thinkin'” Granny called from the dining room. “You ain’t been bringin’ home the best gladiolas last few Saturdays, so today Gary’s gonna go.”

    Marie was glad, she hated fighting little boys, white and black, for the culls sold from the ice plant loading dock, but she’d miss the nickel. Lately she hadn’t been buying ice cream on the way home, but was saving for a Tangee Natural lipstick. Besides, today I couldn’t have gotten any bunches, Marie thought, being invisible and all.

    The glads that Gary would now be buying weren’t resold on street corners around the Plaza, but were for Granny to trim and take to church every Sunday morning. Granny was famous for her flower arranging. The old ones were brought home and put in filet crochet covered Mason jars until the next Sunday. By Friday the smell of old flowers and scummy water made Marie want to puke.

    Before she went to the back porch to see how much Tide was in the box, Marie started the kettle to make coffee, put bread in the toaster, and hoped it wasn’t going to rain. Her sheets really needed washing.

    1. J.Fujimaru

      It’s so great to see another Marie story! These are all living, breathing characters you have fleshed out here. Even the objects in the house are part of their stories. I’m also intersted in finding out more about Granny. She’s a wonder. I didn’t know that cutting out obituaries from the newspaper was a thing…

      1. ReathaThomasOakley

        J. Thank you so much. Comments mean a lot to me.

        A bit of back story. For the January 19, 2016, prompt I wrote a little story featuring fifth grade Annie. Since then, using lots of the posted prompts, I’ve written nearly 20,000 words linking Annie stories. In June I was offered a book contract, but after much agonizing, research, discussions with other writers and an attorney I decided just last week not to sign that contract. I’ve committed to finishing Annie this month via NaNo. (I’m probably nuts, but I’ve also committed to doing Poem A Day and have seen a few familiar names there.) I needed to stop writing new Annie stories or I’d never get finished, and after comments last week, I’ve decided to do some with Marie. I’ve made her a bit older and set this one further back. Some folks might recall The Girl, and I haven’t abandoned her. I’m writing this because all the support and encouragement I’ve received here makes me believe I can reach a goal I’ve had almost my entire life. Comments mean a lot to me.

        Cutting out obits is a real thing.

          1. ReathaThomasOakley

            Thanks, Bushkill. It is fun to see familiar names. I’ve missed the poetry, life got crazy, now need to find time to leave comments. Great writers both places.

          1. ReathaThomasOakley

            Thank you. I’d worried I might be giving up the chance of a lifetime, but I’m much calmer now.

        1. J.Fujimaru

          Reatha, thank you for bringing me up to date. I read one of your Annie stories a few months ago and really enjoyed it. I’m looking forward to more Marie stories. I’m already hooked.

          Best of luck with the poems and Annie stories!

      2. Kerry Charlton

        Reatha, I guess you know by now, your talent keeps growing and growing. Real isn’t strong enough to describe your characters. You place me every time in the room with you characters. I feel like i am eves-dropping in someone else’s life, and feel some embarrassment by learning this much from your stories and your characters. For heaven sakes, do not stop. .

    2. Big Tastey

      Thank you for commenting on my story Reatha. I think your story is lovely, filled with characters I’d like to know better. I don’t know if the following will mean anything to you, but sometimes as I read, I re-write in my head at the same time. Not always but sometimes. Anyway, when I read this ” but the windows were open, to catch a breeze, and it didn’t smell like rain.” I heard, or rather re-wrote, “but the windows were open to catch the breeze. Today didn’t smell like rain.” It’s just a way to look at your writing from someone else’s point of view, it that makes sense. Happy writing! ps- I loved the plastic flowered drapes. I know people like that! that spoke volumes to me.

      1. ReathaThomasOakley

        Thank you for your comments. When I write I usually, even when using second person, keep the narrative close to the MCs speech patterns. Hence, longer sentences.

  23. Russ

    I had just woken up for a reason I did not know. I rubbed my eyes; they seemed exceptionally clean. I moved my legs; I felt as strong and healthy as an ox. I looked around; my vision seemed crystal clear.

    What time it was, I did not know. I reached for my watch. I thought I missed and nearly fell off the bed. I looked at the nightstand. It was right there where I had reached. I quickly went for the watch another time, and my hand went straight through the wood. As it went, I noticed, in addition, that my hand was translucent.

    I pulled back my hand and looked at it with amazement. I then looked at my arm and the rest of my body. I was transluscent throughout, including the clothes I was wearing last night.

    Surely this was a dream. I stood up. I walked through the bedroom door. Walking straight through the closed door seemed perfectly natural. I went down the steps into the living room. There was a woman sitting in the wooden chair, laughing to herself. She had a strange look in her eye.

    I then rememered.

    I ran back up to my room, and there I was, a bloody mess, on the bed. The woman had stabbed me while I was resting.

    After a moment, I heard something move in the room’s closet. I listened intently. I heard a shuffle.
    I walked to the closet door and walked through.
    I could see quite well, despite the darkness.
    Sitting there was another ghost. A beautiful woman. She was transparent as like me.

    “Hello,” she said with a smile as she looked up at me. “I’m glad she killed you,” she added.

  24. Not-Only But-Also Riley

    Eddie stood, immediately worried that he would fall through the bed. Once standing, he felt as if he’d fall through the floor, but he didn’t. He walked to the bathroom, slowly, still fearing that he’d suddenly plunge into the Earth.

    If I can move through the nightstand, what’s stopping me? he asked himself nonstop, his anxiety increasing with every step.

    In the bathroom he looked in the mirror where he realized whatever had happened, had happened to all of him. He could see through his entire being, to the point that he could even faintly see his heart in his chest, his veins through his skin, and spindly, spider-like neural pathways spilling from his eyes to his brain. But even these were translucent, and through them he saw a muddied image of the bathroom wall.

    And something else. Something faint, that he couldn’t remember seeing before. It became clearer as he stared more intently at it. The thing emerged from the paint like it has been waiting there since Eddie moved in. Two arms sprouted from it, two legs appeared to hold it up, eyes opened first from the paint, and then that color melted away to reveal a deadly white, and a much skinnier figure. A top hat grew from its skull and a grin spread across its face. It took a final step and it was no longer part of the wall, but a full person standing behind Eddie.

    Finally, once the thing had finished appearing, Eddie turned to look at it face to face, without the filter of his new see-through skin. The skeletal being tipped its top hat and bows, something falling from its eye and scurrying underneath the counter in the process.

    “I am Death, and I am at your service Eddie,” it said, never breaking its yellowed grin.

    “How do you know my name?” Eddie sputtered, simply because it was the first that came to his mind.

    The grin on the thing seemed to grow. A laughter that sounded closer to screaming rang through the house.

    “Well, I know everyone’s name of course. If that’s your only question then boy are we in luck, this’ll be easy,” it mimed wiping tears from its eyes, even though there were no tears to wipe away.

    Eddie was silent. What else was there to say?

    “So…” Death broke the awkward silence, “you’ve died. Obviously. I’m here to take you.”

    “To Hell?” Eddie finally managed to get some words out. Again, the laughter that rested in Eddie’s ears like nails against a chalk board exploded throughout the house.

    “There’s no such thing Eddie. You just simply cease to exist. I’m just here to guide you, make sure you don’t end up walking the Earth as you are now.”

    “Is there nothing?”

    “Nothing. Just black. Or… maybe grayish, I don’t know. But I can tell you that yes, your life was completely and utterly useless.”

    “Hm,” Eddie pondered aloud.

    “Listen, there’s no point thinking it over. Don’t worry about it, none of it matters either.”

    And with that the house was empty, except the opaque Eddie that lay on the bed, his eyes glazed over and his face beginning to puff.

    1. J.Fujimaru

      Great description of death and dead Eddie. The bit about something falling out of the eye socket and scurrying away really gave me the creeps. Well done!

      I think there’s just one small spot where you can show us more. Instead of ‘”Hm,” Eddie pondered aloud,’ maybe this would be another place to catch your reader and get them to empathize with poor Eddie by inserting some emotional description or even a bit of a backstory.

  25. Whoever

    My hand passed through the table, the book on top of it, the heat of the lamp. I’d lost my touch. At first I wondered to go outside, to see if anyone could see me. They never do, I thought.
    The previous night I’d had a conversation with a girl on a dating-app. She’d asked ‘if you could have any superpower what would it be?’
    I’d thought long and hard about my answer, not wanting to say something stupid for fear of turning her away. My long, thought out reply was that I would be invisible. When she asked why, I came up with all sort of situations in which it would be useful. Avoiding awkward conversation, skipping queues, seeing people you’d been curious about since school ended. But it wasn’t until this moment I’d really considered the meaning of what I said. To be invisible was what came naturally. Being someone who found their voice in online chat rooms and never really involved in real-life conversation or debate. For many reasons, fear of being disagreed with, disliked, ridiculed. For fear of being ignored.
    My happiest times were spent by myself, without feeling alone because there’s no one there to ignore you.
    A few messages later between myself and my dating-app acquaintance and I plucked up the courage to ask to see her in person. Her reply was invisible but I got the message.
    This now physical transparency was in many ways not a change at all; simply physicality to what I felt. The final contact had been disconnected and I had diluted into a state of not-being.

    1. J.Fujimaru

      Whoever, I like the direction in which you took this prompt. It feels like a personal story set in the real world which makes it easier to relate to the narrator. I like the idea of becoming “diluted into a state of not-being.” It’s a good line to end with. Great magical realism.

    2. Beebles

      Such a sad portrayal, but one that feels very real. I was especially impressed with the reasons for not interacting. At felt at times.like the mc had the superpower already and regretted it. There are two aspects.to invisibilty perhaps

  26. JosephFazzone

    I screamed in fright as my hand passed through my phone, the nightstand, and then the bed.

    “Calm down, Paul, did I not tell you this was part of the process?”

    “Who is that?”

    “Your vendor.”

    “Vendor?”

    “You call me Niles, but right now, I am your Whisper Guide.”

    “Niles…I….”

    Whisper Guide”

    “Right, Whisper Guide. Any idea of what’s going on?”

    “I’d say so, yes, since I am your guide.”

    “My guide?”

    “When did you take the pills?”

    “I can’t think, I…”

    “My guess would be about five hours. It takes that long for the nanobots to do their work.”

    “Work?”

    “You are incorporeal, my friend. Your molecules are stretched out as thin as humanly possible without you losing who you are.”

    “I’m a ghost?”

    “You are ghosted, my friend. Enjoy the ride.”

    “How am I communicating with you then?”

    “Some of the nanobots are designed for tracking and a transmitter that communicates with, well, the communicative parts of your brain.”

    “So, what now?”

    “You have about three hours of flight before your body needs to reconstitute, essentially.”

    “What?”

    “We recombine, become solid. You can’t stay this way too long or you will vanish. POOF!”

    “How will I know…”

    “The program will alert you when it’s reaching its critical point. If you get close to the ground, and are not currently inside of something, say a wall for instance, you will be fine.”

    “So…”

    “Listen, Paul, I like you, and I will answer all your questions, but you paid good money for this trip. We both know ghosting doesn’t come cheap. You have approximately three hours to explore and enjoy the journey. You won’t be able to do it again for another month.”

    “A month?”

    “I told, your body needs about a month to reacclimate to its solidity. You will feel moments of otherworldliness.”

    “What?”

    “Consider jet lag. As a rule, you need at least a day to recover for every hour that you lose or gain by changing time zone. Same for this, about a month for 180 minutes of incorporeality.

    “So, don’t be afraid?”

    “Uh, yes, sort of the point is to connect with the intangibles, free your mind, explore, and come back before the time runs out.”

    “Sounds easy enough.”

    “Couldn’t be easier. I am here if you need, I stay by the station while you are flying, your personal air traffic controller.”

    “Whisper guide.”

    “Precisely. Now go!”

    I floated around the room, gazing at my sleeping wife. The prospect of over two hours of utter freedom sang like a choir of angels to my soul. Every day a grind, I saved and scraped up some money over a year to purchase this flight, time to take a ride.

    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      You’ve packed this story with great details. Plus, your characters are well developed using their own words. I do suspect Paul will forget the time limit. Great job.

    2. J.Fujimaru

      Cool concept! The dialogue is well written, clear and believable. I can see this as the beginning of a novella complete with drugs addiction metaphors. Am I taking your story in too dark of a direction?

    3. Bushkill

      incorporeal is such a lovely word and I appreciated the opportunity to use it in my story and see it also in yours.

      clever little take you’ve got here, with the drugs and cost and the bid to be free to float around for a while. Addictions come in all sorts of forms.

    4. Beebles

      I see what you mean Joe. You have bots and I some beta radiation thingummy. I too see bad situations arising and a wonderful world of opportunities and conflicts opened up by your story – not least from his Mrs who wakes up and wonders where the savings went! Loved it thanks for the ride.

  27. jhowe

    JD Primrose watched through the cracked plaster from the wall cavity and ignored the nail points that tore at his outer casing. Belinda slept soundly on the California king, her long arms extended, her bare legs exposed. Belinda’s phone chimed and she groggily rolled to the edge of the bed and turned off the alarm. She stretched, challenging the seams of her faded tee shirt as JD turned and made his way to the crawl space below the kitchen.

    Three other figures lounged on the mud floor and grumbled as JD stepped over them. Water from a leaky pipe dripped on the paleness of the figures but they paid it no mind. Sunlight shone through the floorboards from above and striped the crawlspace like slats of a shudder.

    “Did you do it?” the tallest figure said, his voice full of gravel.

    “No.”

    The other figures rose and faced JD ominously. “Why the hell not,” one of them said.

    “Because I love her.”

    “Yeah, yeah,” the tall one said. “We all got someone we love but it ain’t doing us no good.”

    “I know the consequences,” JD said. If Belinda died in the house, the others would be free to pass on, on to the final destination they all believed would be paradise. If she died elsewhere, the figures would spend eternity as they were now, pale blobs of quivering unevolved flesh.

    “It’s been twenty two years,” the tall one said. “She could get hit by a bus today, and you won’t do it because you love her?” He waited a beat. “Who’s to say she can’t go with you?”

    “Who’s to say she can?” JD said.

    They heard footsteps from above, two sets. They heard ice cubes tinkle in a glass, giggling, laughter, a familiar male voice and then the footsteps moved away. JD silently cursed and made his way through the wall cavities once again. In her bedroom, their bedroom, he burst through the plaster wall and eviscerated the man with an iron-like hand. His brother looked in horror at his spilled guts and then into JD’s sunken eyes. His brother tried to speak but his fluttering eyes closed as he slumped from the bed to the floor.

    Belinda screamed and cowered in the corner as JD blocked any attempt she might make to escape. He held his bloodied hand to her cheek and she trembled violently as he stroked it. He then stepped aside and allowed her to run from the room. Outside he heard a car start and gravel from the tires pelted the side of the house. He knew she’d never come back.

    “Did you do it?” the tall one said. “God knows the bitch deserved it.”

    JD nodded his head.

    “Hot damn,” one of the others said. “It won’t be long now.” He rubbed his gnarled hands together grotesquely and JD Penrose moaned inwardly, thinking of his dying brother and his terrified wife.

  28. MountainShore

    I looked at my other equally translucent hand, as if I thought it to be different. I sat up and threw my legs over the bed to stand. When the expected touch of the floor unexpectedly didn’t happen, I leaned over to investigate. I lost balance as a black nothingness took hold of me and pulled me down into an infinite pit. Falling, I twisted around just in time to see my room shrink from view as I dropped deeper into the darkness.

    The air around me grew thick and breathing became harder as it bellowed through my hair and over my night clothes. I grabbed hold of my fleeing shirt. A quick grin flitted upon my face as I realized I could grab my shirt with my otherwise translucent hands before the infinite pit wasn’t so infinite anymore.

    The thick smell of rot burned my nostrils and for the second time this night, I bolted awake. But this time I knew what had happened, even if I couldn’t explain it. Despite the heaviness of the air, my tongue felt huge and course as though I hadn’t had water in days. I sat up to looked around my new surroundings. I squeezed my eyes tightly closed then opened them again, trying to gain some kind of control over my spinning head.

    I took a deep breath and coughed as dirt, and who knows what else rushed up my nose. Brightly lit dust came out of my mouth, swarmed around my head, then shot up and broke apart above me, revealing shadows of massive trees standing tall in the darkness before fading out, leaving me in complete blackness.

    “What the hell…?”

    “No, darling.” I felt more than heard the deep, raspy voice whisper in my ear. “The question is, ‘where in hell’.”

  29. JRSimmang

    TO THOSE WE HOPE

    We can’t die in our dreams. Perhaps, that’s why we call them dreams. It’s an unattainable reality, one that we can never achieve, and yet we still look forward to them.

    I like the ones where I fly. I even don’t mind the ones where I’m falling, because that’s what flying really is. Plus, I know that I’ll eventually wake up on my own. And, if I don’t, then I’ll just keep falling. I’d be fine with that. Truly.

    I was in a dream like that when I rolled over into the dark of midnight. I hadn’t been sleeping well lately. Pressure, I suppose. Pressure and expectations. One begets the other, I’m just not sure which one it is.

    My room was cold. Maybe that’s what it was.

    At least there was something I could do while I was up.

    I sat up and stared at my hands, which had become more or less material in the last few months, nearing on a year, and laughed until I cried. But, only a little. There’s only so long I can cry. After that, I turn into something else. Something less… me.

    I got up and fumbled a few times with the door before I gave up and tried stepping through it.

    “… don’t know if she’ll pull through,” I heard through the neighbor’s door. “I mean, it’s already progressed to her bones.”

    I nodded, shook some of the life back into my fingers, and knocked. It worked twice before my hand slipped into their foyer.

    I saw a shadow move under the door, and heard two clicks before the door nudged open. “Yes?” she asked, her eyes red and swollen, her cheeks ruddy.

    “Hey, umm, I’m the neighbor. Hi. I know this is kinda creepy, but I couldn’t help but hear through these paper thin walls. I’m sorry.”

    She nodded.

    “And, umm, I just wanted to ask if you’re going to be okay.”

    She nodded again. I looked down and saw my fingers’ flesh start to materialize.

    “Yeah, I guess. Thanks. I hope so.” She paused. “I mean, it’s terminal, so I don’t know.”

    I attempted a smile. “Well, look. I know a lot of doctors, and if you need some names, then I’ll gladly send some to you.”

    “Thanks,” she breathed. “I, uh, yeah. That’d be great.”

    “Great,” I inhaled deeply. “I’ll be right back.”

    I turned back toward my apartment, she closed her door, and I stumbled into my front door, through my front door. “No, no, no, no, I was able to help her. Where’s the other one?”

    A soft sobbing pricked my ears two floor above. Across the street, a gunshot went off. Three blocks away, I could feel the jab of a needle in my arm. Restless teens and angry parents.

    My hands were gone.

    My arms were gone.

    My feet and legs and torso.

    What happens if I stop believing in myself? What happens when I go?

    Then, I’m flying. No, falling.

    Falling.

    And, the ground is fast approaching.

    -JR Simmang

      1. J.Fujimaru

        Hmm, that’s an intriguing interpretation. I thought that falling was a metaphor for our mortality. We call it flying/living when in fact we are all just falling/dying. I guess Bob Dylan and Fight Club describe this concept better than I just did so I won’t try any harder to paraphrase.

        JR, this was wonderfully written. It made me think.

  30. ClutteredThoughts

    Kat’s eyes flew open, startled awake by…

    By…

    She didn’t know, and that scared her.

    “Alex,” she hissed, not moving until she could get an idea of what awaited her beyond… here. Here, in this case, being a bed, and a very familiar wall in front of her. It had been the start of all her mornings until she’d broken through Imagination.

    How was she back home? Had it all been a dream?

    No, not even she could dream up all that. “Alex, what’s happening?” she said out loud, the words falling on her straining ears. And then she realized: whatever had happened, she hadn’t woken up.

    Besides the sounds her body made – heartbeats, muscles moving, hair on her skin – it was deathly silent, and her apartment was never, ever at a level less than comfortable background noise.

    Did she at least have her phone and her backpack? She rolled over to feel the nightstand, like she did every normal morning, but yelled when her hand passed right through, as if it was just in her imagination.

    She paused, wrist still buried in her little wooden table. She needed her backpack, and she needed to calm down, even as her heart tugged against her chest. Strange, it was like something was pulling her away-

    If she was passing through objects, she could probably fix it with her Julia powers. She pulled her hand out of the nightstand and concentrated on the fact that it was solid, but when she opened her eyes (and there was her backpack on the floor, sickle charms dangling off the zipper, everything correct but nothing was right-)

    There was something tugging at her, like a forgotten doctor’s appointment, a missed call she needed to return. Where was Alex? She needed his advice, and for that she needed her phone, and for that the nightstand needed to be solid, because that’s where her phone would be, like always.

    When she opened her eyes and tried to touch the nightstand again, her hand went right through, and she saw what was really happening.

    The tugging sensation grew stronger. She was transparent, and as hard as she tried to convince herself otherwise, her whole body was nothing more than suggestions made by breaks in the outlines of her bedroom. What was happening?

    Someone knocked on her door, and she sat up, and suddenly she looking down at the room as if she was plastered to the ceiling. “Alex, help me, what is happening?!” she screamed, because her body was down there, sitting on the bed where she’d just been. As if she’d always been there, and not transparent. She tried to look away, and saw that the backpack was next to her on the ceiling as well, tantalizingly close.

    The tugging moved to her eyes, forcing her to watch as she, sitting on the bed, looked to the door as it opened-

    God, this was hurting her eyes and her head. She was sitting on the bed, watching things happen, but also watching herself watch things happen; the first/third-person perspectives were awful-

    Everything shifted, and she was moving through walls, out the bedroom door, outside the building altogether. With a yelp she grabbed the backpack, still unable to see anything besides her other self as the dream moved on to the next part of the story.

    At least she could touch the backpack. If she had it, she could survive anything, even a Bogeyman or the Dreamkeeper itself. She shut her eyes in a vain attempt to block out the shifting views the dream fed her, but it just made everything more vivid and realistic. But of course it was so realistic, it was actually real and that was the problem-

    Someone knocked on her door, and she sat up, and suddenly she was looking down at the room as if she was plastered to the ceiling. When had she opened her eyes? Kat wondered why this seemed familiar, where Alex and her backpack were, as the world and the dream moved on to the next part of the story. It seemed darker outside that it should be, especially in the morning.

    Suddenly she was looking down at the room as if she was plastered to the ceiling. Kat’s throat went dry as she watched the door open from two different angles. She couldn’t move, and went she went to scream for Alex again, she found she couldn’t even speak.

    She was stuck in a loop. She was stuck in third-person, and she couldn’t do a thing. No Alex, no backpack, not even a favor left.

    She did the only thing she could do. She watched.

    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      Lots to like here, everything correct but nothing was right, was a great line. Being stuck in third-person is a very creative way to frame the loop. Well done.

    2. J.Fujimaru

      Interesting loop you have described here.

      As a real life Julia I’m wondering what “Julia powers” are. Is it a character from another story I missed? Is it a pop culture reference I’m not getting. Excuse me, if it is.

      1. ClutteredThoughts

        Thanks J.F.! Julia is a character I played from another dream of mine (everything dream-related in these short stories is from my own life.) She was briefly mentioned in the last prompt I used Kat in, but basically her powers are controlling space, like the dimension itself. I don’t quite understand how it works either, so I mostly just think of it as extreme object manipulation.

  31. rlk67

    My client was one unearthly dude.

    I first met Mr. Gresher at his newly acquired Hornetsperch Estate after his secretary contacted me to assist in a title transfer. He was standing by a beautiful antique Steinway situated in the middle of a rather dimly lit drawing room. His tall frame strode over to me, and his dark, magnetic eyes spoke tremendous power and resolve.

    “Thank you for coming. I hope you are able to satisfy my demands.” His voice dictated absoluteness, and his demeanor was like champagne. Those eyes…I watched in fascination.

    “I’ll try to assist in any way I can. Please, tell me what you would like. I’m all ears.”

    He chuckled softly. “Be careful what you say.” He whispered the last word before walking toward a chair. “We must choose our words carefully,” he seemed to say to no one in particular.

    “As you can see,” he began, ” my new estate is quite large, but I still need to…expand.”

    “Already?” I asked. “Maybe you should live here a little and see…”

    He grunted and waved me off. “I need that my property should extend to Quay River. However, my neighbor, Frithworth refuses to sell part of his acreage. You shall convince him, and write up a deed.”

    Whoa. “And just why do you need…”

    He glared. Oh, those eyes. “Not your issue.”

    I sighed. “I see. Well, I guess it wouldn’t hurt to talk to him.”

    “Very good. See what you can do. If you do it, I pay handsomely. If not, then I pay…gruesomely.” I shivered and he laughed as he walked me to the door.

    “I’ll be in touch,” I said in low voice.

    “Excellent.” As the door closed, he set those eyes on me again. “What’s wrong? Your hair standing on end?” His grin was the last thing I saw before the door shut.

    Throughout the rest of the day, I thought about our meeting, and Gresher’s eyes willed me to sleep. The following morning, I woke with a jolt. Something wasn’t right, my head was screaming. I jumped out of bed, and walked into the bathroom, passing the mirror, then stopping abruptly. I slowly walked back and took a look. Who was that?

    It was me, but my hair was going straight up! I tried to pat it down, but it felt like stiff wire. Wow, did I sleep the wrong way. I tried to dampen the top, but water flew right off! I couldn’t go to work like this. I grabbed a tube of mousse and rubbed it on…now my hair was standing and shiny! It was getting late…I got dressed and looked for a hat. No way, I had to catch the bus. I ran out, and hoped people remembered it was Halloween.

    People stared. An elderly woman told me sternly that I needed a haircut. Some teenage girl with multicolored hair gave me a compliment. And Frithworth thought it was a joke.

    “No, please, I just…”

    “Roger, show our guest out. Oh, sell my land, indeed. To that spook? And with Mr. Punk Rocker as his lawyer? OUT!”

    Oh, great. I was going to be paid gruesomely now, I guess.

    Gresher wasn’t pleased. Those eyes told me all. “You failed. Very unfortunate,” he said in the echoing foyer. “It makes my blood boil.” Did I see steam rising from his skin? I blinked.

    “Look, I don’t know if I can…”

    “I’ll give you one more chance. If you want more of my business, then get a leg up.” He closed the door.

    I didn’t know if I wanted more of his business. The next morning, I walked to the bus stop and jumped in line as the bus arrived. When I tried to enter the bus, my right leg suddenly kicked up and the package of the woman in front of me went flying.

    “What…?! Excuse me, but why…?! Shocked, she ran for her bag.

    What was happening? I couldn’t control my leg! “C’mon buddy, get in the bus already!” screamed the driver. But I couldn’t get my let back down. People stared again. I was getting used to this. Alright, I guess I slept the wrong way again. I hopped into the bus, kicking seats and the cane from an old man. He growled.

    I limped to Frithworth. “Get your foot out of my face or I’m calling the police. Roger!” I quickly hopped away.

    My leg somewhat recovered when I got to Gresher. But my self-esteem was shattered.

    “Stupid! I don’t need you!” he yelled with his eyes. “It seems like you won’t have a hand in this after all!” Slam.

    I dragged myself home, defeated. I took care of other work and eventually fell asleep, but not for long. I woke in the middle of the night suddenly and reached for my clock. It wasn’t there. I reached for the lamp. It wasn’t there.

    I turned and I saw…they were there. I reached again…my hand wasn’t there! It was hazy and went right through everything! I tried grabbing my blankets…nothing! What was happening? Then I realized…it was HIM! He was doing this! Hair, leg, hand…those eyes! I jumped out of bed, and single-handedly got dressed. I reached for a cup to make coffee…nothing! Oh, I forgot! I reached for my keys…ugh! How frustrating! I couldn’t deal with this. I walked all the way back to Hornetsperch and knocked on the door. Nothing. Growl! I tried the other hand. The door opened slightly.

    “And what brings you here at this hour?” Gresher demanded. No, don’t look at the eyes. I mustn’t.

    “You did this! You keep doing this to me! My hair, my leg and my hand! I want you…”

    “So sorry. I don’t know what you mean,” he said slowly. “I think you’re just upset that you lost my business.”

    I couldn’t answer. I had a feeling…he was about to…”

    “Perhaps I’ll hire another lawyer. And when you see what a pay him,” he started to laugh loudly, “you’ll EAT YOUR HEART OUT!”

    I almost fainted. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!

  32. Big Tastey

    Mean Ghosts

    I woke up with a jolt but I lay real still, just like my mama taught me to do. She was the best ghost hunter I ever knew, but she was gone now and all I have left is her teachings. I slowly scanned the room through half-slit eyes, letting my eyelashes veil my movements, because they watch you after they wake you up, waiting for you to sling your arm or leg off the side of the bed, so they can yank down hard and hurt you. They say that’s how papa died. I was just young at the time. He thought somebody was under the bed and he put his head over the side to look, and that’s when they yanked down hard and broke his neck. Mama went into a fury after that and she hunted down the mean ghosts that killed papa, but there were always more mean ghosts, and they kept coming, so she killed them too. Then they killed Mama in an old hotel after she ran out of holy water.

    I looked for my own holy water and I saw it sitting on my nightstand so I made a grab for it before they could hurt me, and my hand passed through the nightstand like it wasn’t there at all. I know they saw me move so I went to grab my pillow to cover my eyes so they couldn’t poke them out and my hand went right through the pillow too. I wasn’t expecting that. Now, either the nightstand and pillow were ghostlike or my hand was, and that got me thinking about the rest of me. I wondered if my head was like that too so I put it straight down through the mattress and, sure enough, I was looking under the bed.

    One of them mean ghosts was down there and I must have scared him because his eyes got big so I let out a little yell, “Boo!” For the record, ghosts can’t soil themselves like the living do (mama taught me that), but I swear, he turned a little brown just where you would expect him to if he could. He flew over into the closet to hide. Then the rest of me fell through the bed and onto the floor, and then I fell through the floor too.

    When I fell all the way to the basement I wondered how far I was going to fall because the next stop was China and then all of a sudden I stopped falling in mid-air. I was all warm and it felt like an angel had caught me. Then I saw the angel’s face. It was mama.

    “Mama, you’re alive!” was all I could think of to say.

    “My dear sweet boy, I’m not alive. You’re dead.” Mama smiled down at me.

    “But Mama, how did I die?”

    “Those mean ghosts got you! But I saved you before they could drag you down to H-E-Double toothpicks.”

    1. J.Fujimaru

      I agree with Reatha about the MC, his mama, and the last line. This was a very creative ghost story. I’m just hoping Papa is not in H-E-Double toothpicks…

  33. JRSimmang

    Have we ever tried a comment thread collaborative story? Would we like to try this week?
    Rules:
    1) You must reply directly to the comment of the original post. Newer comments post under older ones so the story should read in order.
    2) You must keep your post under 300 words.
    3) You can also post your own story.

    I dunno, thought we could try it. I’ll start us off…

    Las Vegas isn’t a place to raise a kid. Gambling, red lights, drunk and disorderly as the law and order, and Grace Abondance saw it all. Grace’s mom was one of the showgirls, and she was one of the best.

    There was a difference, her mom told her, in showing your t!ts for money and showing your t!ts for art. Of course, her mom got paid for her art, so Grace had a hard time discerning between the two. She swore the only way she’d show her t!ts was for the right man to come along.

    She was 20 when he did. Tall, dark, brooding, and able to palm a silver dollar, Jack Mars wondered aloud if Grace had what it took to take him on. She would have to wear a short skirt, of course, and she’d have to listen to his every word. And, and he stressed this point above all others, she would be sworn to secrecy. Secrecy appealed to Grace. Secrecy and Jack Mars’s profoundly understanding eyes.

    Thanks to Grace, it wasn’t long before she and Mars had their names in lights.

    “This is it, sweet,” Mars ruminated. His voice was gravel and smoke. He always used pet names. Grace didn’t mind. She didn’t mind that they were in the middle of the road in the drizzle either.

    “The big time?” she asked.

    “The big time.” He turned to face her. “I’m going to show you an illusion tonight, but you must-”

    “Never say a word,” she finished.

    “No.” He held up his hand. “Remain blindfolded. You cannot see what I’m doing. You have to promise you won’t peek.”

    Grace snorted, then reached to put a hand on his chest. He took a half-step back and grabbed her hand.

    “You have to promise,” he insisted.

    1. MoiraiTQ

      “I promise,” she said. She was a little annoyed and it showed in her voice.

      “Let’s go to the penthouse,” was Mars’ response.

      Holding hands, they quickened the pace to the Bellagio. They were chuckling and in a better mood when they arrived at the elevator to get to their suite. Grace was sucking on his knuckles when he pressed the elevator button. When the elevator doors opened, they stepped in. Mars scanned his room key so that they would ride all the way without interruption. They looked at each other with sly twinkles in their eyes. Mars’ arm was around her back and his hand was firmly resting on her lower back. His breathing had quickened some. He wasn’t entirely sure it was from their faster pace to get to the hotel.

      The elevator stopped, but the doors didn’t open. Just a clunk and a broken grinding sound.

      Grace and Mars stopped and looked at the doors. Waiting. Waiting. Mars pushed the emergency button. Nothing happened. Grace’s eyes got wide. Mars’ eyes narrowed. He was getting a bit irratated.

      1. ReathaThomasOakley

        “Jack? Hon,” Grace whispered, his muttering sounded irritated and angry. She didn’t like it when Jack was angry.

        “What?”

        “The blindfold, can I take it off now.”

        “No! You promised, and you must learn never to break a promise to Jack Mars.”

        “Then, tell me where we are, please. We walked an awfully long ways in the rain, and I’m getting–”

        “Cold? You’re cold? Well, baby, when we get out of this stinking elevator, it’ll be hot from now on.” Grace could hear him pounding on metal, the doors, she thought.

        Finally, she heard the grinding sound again as the elevator moved. Then it stopped and the doors opened.

        “What the. . . ” a man exclaimed as Jack pulled her out.

        “Why’s she blindfolded?” A woman asked.

        “Hey, that’s Jack Mars. He’s back in town, but who’s the blonde?”

        “Jack?” Grace whimpered, “please, Jack, I can’t keep up, you’re walking too fast.”

        Jack stopped so quickly that she nearly fell into him.

        “Can’t keep up? Oh, baby, I thought you would be the one who could. That’s what your sweet mother told me.”

        Grace ripped the blindfold off.

        “My mother?”

        1. Kerry Charlton

          Whoa! You could take this any where. At first I thought they were on the way to Hades and I may have been correct. Implications about Jack mentioning her Mother was dicey and added spice. I wish you would think about expanding. I feel like a kid in a candy store with no money. Quite different for you Reatha. Nice to see you exploring

        2. MoiraiTQ

          “My mother?! What have you been doing to or with my mother? Wait, I don’t want to know.”

          Grace picks up the dropped blindfold and quickly pulls it over Jack’s head and covers his eyes.

          “Since I broke my promise, it’s you who’ll wear the blindfold.” There was a determined edge to her voice. She grabbed the key from Jack’s hand, shoved it down the front of her dress, and headed toward the suite. Jack was left standing where he was. His hands were stopped part way up to his head, as if he was going to remove the blindfold. He had a slight sly smile on his face and just stood there, waiting.

          He remained in place when he heard the suite door close, patiently waiting for Grace to return.

          While it seemed like an eternity, Jack heard the door open and the muffled high heeled steps that stopped in front of him. She didn’t say a word, but he felt her warm breath on his neck and left ear. Then felt her breath on the back of his neck going from left to right. Now on his right hear and the right side of his neck.

          She managed to stay far enough away from him so that he wasn’t able to tell what she was wearing. He let his mind wander. His body started to relax as he enjoyed the feel of her breath. He started to get goosebumps. At this, he felt her hand take his and pulled him into the direction of the room.

          1. writer_sk

            While things heated up in Grace and Jack’s hotel suite, Mother was cooling down with her weekly ice bath after her show-stopper that night. She’d moved up as the years went on and was now on the main stage as part of a burlesque act that included more intense choreography and less “art.” The ice was painfully good. She sipped her requisite spritzer; the one alcoholic beverage she allowed herself per week. Aging gracefully, Mother prided herself on her healthy lifestyle and hoped to direct the stage show since she already choreographed a large portion. She lifted her slight forty-two-year-old frame out of the ice, letting her sore ankles linger a few more minutes while she grabbed a large towel. Her costume hung on the bathroom door above her custom designed stilettos.

            Mother knew Jack Mars had been grooming her daughter to take over as his new stage assistant for his renowned magic show and she hoped Grace would take the opportunity seriously. As Mother slipped into her silk pajamas she wondered if Mars would share his gift with Grace and tell her about the Transparency Pact.

            Mother’s mind wandered to years gone by and the smoky stage and beautiful lights when a young Jack and she practiced his show in their first dress rehearsal. While sewing the costumes on her old Singer, she’d envisioned a life traveling as part of a circus act or something you read about in story books. She now recollected how she had developed feelings for Jack Mars and that he was part of that fantasy. That was long gone and Mother dressed to slip into bed while Grace seduced the man twenty years her senior over whom her Mother once pined. Jack Mars had always fallen for his assistants and he hadn’t changed much over the years.

            As Grace led Jack to the bed and handcuffed him, Mother worried about Grace’s propensity for danger and hoped she was taking care of herself instead of teetering on the edge of sanity, mixing business with pleasure.

          2. J.Fujimaru

            In the room the heat was intoxicating. Beads began to form on Grace’s skin. The rain clouds had cleared and the Vegas sun peeped through the curtains forming a brilliant white line that divided the two lovers. Their bodies glistened. Grace looked down at her conquest and began to perform her magic on the helpless Jack Mars, still handcuffed, still blindfolded. He relished it. Then a long, drawn-out sigh gained substance deep within his larynx and departed through Jack’s arching neck to his mouth and to the edge of his lip where it trembled on that fine boarder dividing his inside from outside, dividing his business from pleasure. The sigh tumbled into the air.

            “Finally,” Grace thought, as she got up to clean herself off. Although she had enjoyed it, magic was messy business.

            She smiled back at Jack who, like a man defeated, was slowly reigning in his consciousness one breath at a time. But little did she know that Jack Mars was always in control. He was an experienced man. A showman. When it came to it he would push aside morality, he would break away from all his attachments and he would always, without fail, reach for the magician’s hat. Jack Mars would do anything for a trick.

      2. Kerry Charlton

        Well now Moirai, what a place to end a story. Who is going to get them out of there? Interesting opening, would like to see an expansion here. Sounds like two lover’s on a few day excursion that no one knows where they are. Sort of like your pants falling to the ground at the monthly board meeting. I figure there will be some tall explaining here.

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