Stories

Body, Soul, Murder, Part Five, by Ed King

#body-soul-murder #detective #fiction #jazz #mystery #new york

It was Friday night, and Maria was tired. She sat at the window watching the evening traffic go by. The sound of Carol’s music wafted in from the next room, drowning out all the quiet sounds from the street.

Carol was putting on makeup, getting ready to go out. Carol Flanagan who played the guitar and wrote poetry. They never got along well. She had a boyfriend and spent maybe one night in five at the apartment. A space of time in which she managed to turn the bathroom and the kitchen into disaster zones and play records just loudly enough to be dully grating. She didn’t try to be a hassle; she just was. It was simply her way.

Why had Maria come to New York? For what—for Jazz? Was that really it? The strange melodies, the thumping bass. Had that been important enough to uproot her whole life? To leave her father?

The door slammed, and Maria was all alone in the New York apartment with no hot water.

She had lived in the city for six months and not made a single friend. To be truthful, the city horrified her. She was terrified of its dark alleys, its infinite variety. She hadn’t talked to her father.

Worst of all, she hadn’t been to a single jazz show. She lived right in the Village but she hardly ever left the apartment. She spent all day in her room, reading or listening to music. Late at night had become the only time she ever felt like eating anything any more.

A Turkish restaurant in the village had become her sanctuary. It was open late, and she left to go there now, unsure of how she would survive hours in the apartment by herself.

A man stumbled into the restaurant at one o’clock. His clothes were rumpled. He was thin, and he had a thin mustache and long, thin sideburns. He was drunk.

“Eddie!” he cried to the man behind the counter.

The counterman turned. “Phil. What?”

“Eggs. Bacon.”

Phil noticed Maria. He sat down next to her and held out his hand.

“Phil Ocks.”

Maria turned away.

Phil started to mumble to Eddie. His friends were all bastards, he didn’t need them, that kind of thing. Eddie paid no attention.

Phil gained interest in Maria again; he turned and looked into her eyes.

“You know, you’re beautiful,” he said.

She turned to face him.

“Do you really think that or are you just saying it?”

“I know it.”

He left, forgetting about his food. She regretted dismissing him so suddenly. Wasn’t this what she had come to New York for? Life, free from the chains of Lincoln? Meeting strange men, dangerous men?

She walked out into the street. Phils’ form was just beginning to fade from the cone of a streetlight.

“Wait!” she called.

He turned around. She ran to meet him. She looked into his eyes, and they were like a gateway to the life she had imagined for herself.

She slept with him that night. It was not how she had imagined it. He fell asleep in her bed and she found that she couldn’t stand to lie there next to him. She moved to the couch in the living room. It got cold in the night but she couldn’t bring herself to go back to her bedroom to get a blanket. She just lay there—she could hear him breathing—listening to him sleep in her bed.

When the morning came, he got up and came into the living room. He was hung over and very confused at first, but when he realized how Maria felt he apologized. He offered to make her breakfast.

Maria was genuinely sort of charmed by how sorry she was, and she let him. He brought a blanket out of the bedroom for her and she turned on the radio and sat there wrapped up on the couch, listening to the food sizzling on the stove.

They didn’t talk. He made a big breakfast for her but he just made a fried egg for himself and sat there eating it, not rushing, with his eyes down.

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Lycaon, Part One, by Garret Schuelke

#action #adventure #fiction #flashfiction #lycaon #scifi #shortstories #werewolf

Banner knew that he should have never got a can opener from Goodwill. Even if they did give it to him for free, it still refused to properly open the can of beans that he needed to complete his chili.

He heard a train coming. He pledged that if he couldn’t get the can open by the time the train appeared, he would whip the can opener underneath the wheels.

On top of the train, Gareth woke up. He looked out at the Thunder Bay River. He sat up and stretched out. Being away for this long still hasn’t changed anything, he thought, scanning the streets. Same businesses, no new attractions, not even any kind of construction going on.

Gareth put on his backpack. “Chicago, babe, expect me back ASAP. Once I save this hole, I’ll be back home to stay.” He jumped off the train as it started to slow down. “For some time, anyway.”

Banner cursed the can opener. He threw it towards the tracks. Gareth felt something hit his leg as he landed. He looked down to see the can opener tumbling down the gravel.

“Oh Jesus, I’m sorry, man,” Banner yelled, running towards Gareth. “I swear, I didn’t mean to hit you!”

“Can’t get the can open?” Gareth asked, pointing at the can of beans Banner was holding.

“Yeah, and I got my chili cookin’ right now. It wouldn’t be the same without these beans.”

“I got a can opener that’ll work,” Gareth said, putting his arm around Banners shoulders. “Let’s go to your pad and I’ll dig it out.”

Gareth put his backpack down when they got inside the dilapidated train shack. He dug the can opener out of one of the side compartments. Making sure that Banner was still stirring his chili, Gareth concentrated on transforming his right hand. His hand tightened, and his fingernails grew into claws. He stuck a finger into the can, and circled the top until the lid came completely off. He relaxed his hand, reverting it back to its normal state.

“Here’s your beans,” Gareth said, dumping them into the chili. “You can take my can opener too. I’m not going to need it anymore.”

“Thanks much, man. You sure don’t you need it, though?” Banner asked.

Gareth shook his head, put on his backpack and headed out the door.  “There are a lot of things I don’t need anymore.”

Gareth searched through the shelves where the Alpena News and other Michigan newspapers were for stories on the wolf attacks that occurred in Alpena County over the last month. He copied the articles, and snuck out of the library to avoid paying the copy fees.

He headed over to Save-A-Lot. He scoped out the front entrance in the alley across from the store. After thinking over what he remembered of the store’s layout, he tied his grey mask over his eyes. He transformed, stretched his legs, and ran into the store.

He swiped some hamburger patties, barbecue sauce, and a package of white bread. Running out the store, he nearly ran into a girl who was texting.

His last stop was Tarters Party Store.  He planned to swipe a bottle of red wine, but then he saw the 24 packs of Pabst Blue Ribbon that were right next to the entrance. Aw yeah, he thought. Using his super speed, he darted across the street, swiped one of the packs, and sped down Chisholm towards downtown.

Read part two.

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The Rescue, Part Two, by David Nees

#action #fiction #post-apocalyptic #shortstories #stories

This post contains some disturbing content.

The drinking started. The sounds of the people grew louder as more alcohol was drunk; pretty soon the scene became raucous and violent. Jason heard a number of women scream as the men roughly grabbed at them. The screams became a background noise to the overall din of the encampment. Through his glasses Jason spotted a tent at the edge of the yard, with men steadily going in and out. The noise continued well into the night until around midnight, when it started to gradually quiet down.

Over the next two hours Jason slowly, patiently, crawled through the grass in the field. The darkness helped to hide his trail of matted growth. But even so, he went slowly and carefully, not wanting to make his move until the group had drunk itself into sleep.

He aimed for the tent where he had seen the men going in and out, hoping that Judy might be there and hoping at the same time that she wasn’t. The reality, he guessed, was probably much worse. Even at 50 years of age, Judy was not an unattractive woman. And who knew what code of conduct, if any, ruled this group? Gangs like this acted worse than a pack of animals. They killed not only to survive, but for the joy of killing itself. The violence he had seen in the Miller’s house was the equivalent of what he had read about the medieval times.

They’re like the barbarians who brought down the Roman Empire, he thought. They imagined cruelty and violence towards the enemy was a virtue.

Jason reached the back of the tent and listened carefully for some time. The only sounds he heard were low moans and whimpers. Very slowly, he inserted his hunting knife into the back of the tent and cut a small opening. He put his eye to the slit and tried to see inside. In the darkness it was nearly impossible. He could make out one small figure to the side (Judy?) and another, larger figure lying opposite.

Jason slowly started to slice the tent open. His heart was racing and his breathing became ragged. Still working the knife, he buried his face in the crook of his arm to cover the sound of his breath.

Be calm. Breathe steady.

He repeated this mantra over and over in his mind. When he finished cutting the tent open, he slowly worked his way through the large hole.

As he was pulling himself through, Jason’s foot caught on the flap of material and he fell forward. The larger figure mumbled something as he started to wake up. Without hesitating, Jason thrust his body over the man, covered his mouth with one hand, and shoved his knife into the man’s neck with the other. He jerked and flopped instinctively, trying to get away from the attack. Jason worked the knife back and forth without taking it out of the man’s neck, slashing and cutting the life out of him. After a short struggle, a gurgling sound came out of the man and he went limp. Jason held on for a few more seconds before pulling back — he was dead. He turned quickly to other figure.

“Judy, is that you?” he whispered.

“Jason?” came her weak reply.

“Shh,” he said as he went over to her, listening for sounds outside of the tent. All was quiet. Judy had a blanket thrown over her; underneath she was naked and bound.

“Jason,” she whispered, “they, they … raped me.”

“Don’t talk. I’m getting you out of here,” he whispered.

He cut her bonds with his knife. He could feel the cuts and bruises on her wrists and ankles. He found a shirt which he put over her. Taking the blanket with them, he helped Judy crawl through the opening in the tent. Once outside, Jason had Judy lie down on the blanket. Holding one end, he dragged her behind him as he crawled back along his path. This time he went faster and with less caution, taking the chance that everyone was asleep. Upon reaching the tree line, Jason wrapped Judy in the blanket and picked her up in his arms.

“Hold on, it’ll be a bumpy trip. I’ve got to get us away from here as fast as possible.”

“They hurt me,” Judy said. “Over and over, they wouldn’t stop.”

Then she started moaning. Jason gritted his teeth against her sounds of pain and set out for safety.

It was hard going in spite of Judy not being very big. Jason drove himself on and on, stopping only to adjust how he carried Judy: in his arms; piggy back style; over his shoulders. But always he kept moving — whether at a walk, a shuffle, or a slow jog, he would not stop.

Two hours passed before he arrived at their farm house. He laid Judy down gently in the yard and went into the barn to retrieve a two-wheeled cart he had seen. Next he ran into the house and collected pillows and blankets. He made a padded bed in the cart and lay Judy down inside.

Jason knew she had been bleeding as he carried her, so he gently put a pillow between her legs. He told her to push it up tight to stem the bleeding. Judy was so weak that Jason had to help her. Apologizing for the bumpiness, Jason told her he was going to take her to his camp where the gang would not be able to find them.

“I’ll keep you safe, Judy. They won’t hurt you again.”

“Sam?” she said. “They shot him over and over. They laughed and shot him, again and again.”

Then she collapsed in the cart. Jason set out, running now, towing the cart behind him. He left muddy footprints on the road, but he didn’t care.

I hope they come after me, he thought, grimly.

His mind was getting darker as he ran on, hearing Judy’s moaning in the cart, knowing she was getting weaker and weaker. He imagined them howling after him in a blood lust, just as he imagined him exacting his revenge on them.

He turned up the old logging trail bark road, running, shuffling, stumbling — not stopping. As the grade became steeper his legs got heavier, but he kept going. It was like the worst army training run he had ever experienced. His lungs were on fire; his breath came in ragged gasps and still he went on, even at a shuffle. He couldn’t stop until he got to his camp and tended to Judy. Her soft cries drove him on and on.

At last he arrived. The camp was on top of a steep bank that had been created a century or so ago, when a flat area or “bench” was cut into the hillside to make the shelf for the road bed.

Jason laid Judy down on the blankets from the cart. As he grabbed her, he felt how wet the pillow was from her blood. He wrapped her in the extra blankets she had given him only that morning. Their worlds had disintegrated since that bittersweet goodbye. He roused Judy enough to get her to drink some water.

“Don’t let me go,” she pleaded. “Hold me.”

He took her in his arms, keeping her wrapped tight in the blankets.

“They hurt me deep inside,” she mumbled. “I’m hurt bad.”

“You’ll be all right,” he said. “I’ll take care of you.”

“I’m cold,” she said softly. She was shivering. Jason pulled his extra parka out of his pack with one hand and draped it over her while he kept her held tight in his arms. Gently he rocked back and forth. The shivering went away and she seemed to relax more.

“Don’t leave me up here in the hills … for the animals.” He could barely hear her voice.

“I won’t leave you. You’ll be okay, you’re going to be okay,” he said, he hoped with conviction. “I’ll take care of you.”

“Sam … Sam,” she said. “Why did they have to keep shooting Sam?”

Jason just kept rocking her gently. Judy slipped into unconsciousness. He kept holding her and rocking her for the next two hours as her life slowly slipped away.

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The Rescue by David Nees: Part One

#action #adventure #fiction #shortstories #shortstory

“The Rescue” is an excerpt from the forthcoming novel,  After the Fall.

After an electromagnetic pulse attack on the U.S. all transportation and communications were destroyed.  Shortages of food, fuel and other essentials quickly developed and Jason retreated to the mountains to escape the breakdown of society that occurred.

He stopped at the edge of the woods and scanned the house; no sign of anyone.  Cautiously, Jason approached the rear corner of the house from the field and quietly tested the back door.  It was locked.  He went around to the front. It was broken open.  He slowly entered.

The furniture was overturned—signs of a struggle.  Jason stopped and listened for some time.  It was completely quiet.  Moving further into the house, he found Sam in the hallway on the way to the kitchen.  He had been shot multiple times.  There was blood everywhere.

Jason reeled in shock and turned away, his stomach heaving.  His fought back the reflex to vomit; his head was light. Stumbling back out onto the porch, he dropped to the floor and breathed into his cupped hands to keep from passing out.  Tears welled up in his eyes.  After a few minutes he ventured back into the house to try to find Judy.

The kitchen was ransacked, the table was overturned.  Cabinets were torn open and emptied.  He found a part of Judy’s dress torn and lying on the floor but he could not find her.

They’ve taken her, she’s alive!  

Then his face clouded as he thought about how they might treat her.  The basement where Judy kept the food supplies had been discovered and stripped.  The liquor cabinet, Sam’s pride, was empty.  Jason could not find any other sign of Judy in the house.  He took a sheet from the bedroom and covered Sam.

I’ll find her, Sam.   I’ll get her back and make them pay for this…this…  He couldn’t find a word to describe it.

I don’t know how far they’ve gone, but I’ve got to follow.  He was filled with grim thoughts of what was to come.  He went to the well in the yard and pumped cold water over his head, took a long drink and shouldered his rifle.  Then he set off at a trot on the road going south.

Jason kept up a trot for over an hour when he saw smoke ahead.  He veered off the road and worked his way through the fields and hedge rows, slowing and moving more carefully as he got closer.  Finally he stopped and laid down at the edge of an overgrown field.  He was about 50 to 60 yards from the encampment, which was in front of a burned farmhouse. There were a number of tents spread around the yard with people—mostly men, although Jason spied a few women—moving in and out of the remains of the farmhouse.  From the looks of it, the group was getting ready to party and feast.

Enjoying what you stole from Sam and Judy.

Evening approached and Jason lay back in his hide position.  Got to wait till dark; how do I find where they’ve put Judy?  He hoped she was not in the house. He couldn’t see how he could get either of them out and survive.

Stay tuned for part 2!

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Let’s Color by Arya Oveissi

#color #fiction #literary #short story #webcam

“Hey, kiddo. I picked you up a pizza and left it on the counter in the kitchen,” said Mr. Worthy to his daughter as he put a shirt on his only son, Mikey. The boy was lying on his new Tiny Tots Starter Bed. “Put whatever you’re not gonna finish in the fridge and we can eat it tomorrow. Save Julia some of the pepperoni slices, too.”

“I’m eighteen now, dad. Don’t you think I’m too old to be ‘kiddo’ still?” asked Lilly.

“Look, as long as I’m around buying you pizza, you’re gonna be kiddo. Capisce?”

“I see talking with Julia didn’t go well,” said Lilly.

“No, not exactly. I get why she’s mad, Lil. I do. Fifteen-year-old girls are complex. But I just feel like it’s time. I’m glad you understand that — you get that from your mother.”

Lilly picked up Mikey and as she did, a bittersweet smile pressed up on her face like a moth outside a bedroom window.

“Now, you be a big boy while your sister watches you tonight, okay, champ?” she said.

“Yes. Lilly’s in charge,” said Mikey, hanging onto his sister like a baby chimp.

Suddenly the pounding of Julia coming down the stairs could be heard from across the house.

“Dad, I’m leaving,” she said from outside the nursery. “Nina’s dad will drive me home in the morning. Bye.”

“She won’t even come in to say goodbye to me in person,” said Mr. Worthy, looking out the door. “I should probably get going too. If you need anything, call me. I’ll be home by one at the latest.” He started walking to the door before saying, “And seriously, Lil, thanks for everything.”

“Yeah, no problem dad.”

There they went. Lilly’s father and sister joined the Friday night parade of cars passing by outside the house.

“Alright Mikey, it’s just you and me tonight. What do you want to do? Play with trucks? Watch Farm Festival?”

Mikey pointed to the transparent box with the white lid sitting on the bottom shelf of his dresser and said, “Let’s color!”

Lilly grabbed the box, several sheets of printer paper from her dad’s office, and took everything to the kitchen where she set them down on the five-person table. The box of crayons smelled nostalgic to her. Without looking at the colors he was grabbing, Mikey picked up a handful of crayons and set them by his paper. Lilly was particular when it came to choosing. By the time she began to actually draw anything, Mikey was already halfway done with his picture. The sound of his crayons quickly dragging back and forth across the piece of paper echoed in Lilly’s head.

“Look, Lilly. There you are. I made you red ’cause that’s your favorite color,” said Mikey, handing her his drawing. “I made everybody their own color. Julia is green, and daddy is blue. I’m yellow.”

The four of them looked so happy in Mikey’s picture.

“What did you draw?” he asked.

“It’s not done, or good,” said Lilly, showing Mikey her drawing. “It’s a sunrise, see. This is what tomorrow will look like. Or at least, what I hope it looks like.”

The way Lilly made the hues of yellow and red dance through the sun and burst through the deep blue sky would have impressed anybody.

“It’s pretty,” Mikey said. “Can I have it in my room?”

“You want it? It’s all yours. I’ll hang your picture up on the fridge so daddy can see it when he gets home. I think it’s time I go put the movie on, huh?”

In Mikey’s room, the television screen flashed blue as Lilly hit play from the child-sized bed. The theme song to Farm Festival started. Mikey’s face lit up as it always did during the song.

“Sing it with me, Lil,” he said.

“All the animals on the farm played and danced in their barn. The farmer came to see what he heard, but when he walked there wasn’t a word. Mother hen hushed all beaks making sure no chicks peeped.”

Mikey cuddled up next to his stuffed gorilla. Lilly remembered when Mikey’s blue-walled room used to be her white-walled room, and her mom would lie beside her and watch movies till she fell asleep. Soon enough, Mikey was turning in his sleep. This is what Lilly had been waiting for all night.

Cutting through the living room was the quickest route to get to her room. But Lilly stuck to her recent trend of going through the kitchen, avoiding the big clear mirror that hung next to the family pictures. Once Lilly got to her vanilla-perfume-scented room she locked her door, closed her window, and lowered her blinds, diminishing the light from the lamppost outside.

An empty box of tissues sat on her desk next to her laptop. Lilly put the box in her trashcan and smushed down the garbage. The force of it mashed a pretzel bag that held a used pregnancy test. She pulled out her makeup kit and hair straightener, turned towards her small foggy mirror, and began making herself beautiful. Her lips were plump and red, like two strawberries; her mascara made her cerulean-blue eyes pop as bright as fireworks; and her blonde hair shone as if electricity was running through it. She did look beautiful, even in her baggy white t-shirt and black pajama shorts.

Lilly opened the laptop on her desk. With an almost convincingly still hand, she turned the camera on. The green light stared at her and she got lost in her image on the screen. Slowly, Lilly clutched the bottom of her shirt and raised it up over her head. She stripped herself of her clothes until she stood unadorned in front of the camera. Different positions and different angles made her feel like a different person. She received dozens of messages asking for different things. The woman of the house put on a show. The cars outside kept driving by.

After uploading what she had done that night, Lilly shut her laptop and put her clothes back on. In the bathroom she washed off her makeup, rinsing hard and fast. Lilly walked back across the house to check on Mikey. The boy slept silently, not waking from the light that was now coming from the hallway.

Lilly knew that she could not promise Mikey that tomorrow would be as beautiful as she hoped it would be. As the door closed, the light on Mikey’s face dissipated into the dark. In the kitchen, Lilly grabbed a slice of pepperoni pizza and a glass of wine, which her dad allowed her to drink at family parties. As she slid open the screen door that led to the deck where her family would sit and eat dinner in the summer, Lilly hoped that no bugs would fly into the house.

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Wired Phoenix by Gary Hewitt

#creepy #fiction #flashfiction #halloween #phoenix #short stories

The evisceration was almost complete. Samways pointed to the corpse. Two employees hastened towards the cadaver.

“He’ll do. Bring it back to the lab.”

* * * *

John Fernandez enjoyed the warmth of the light. The previous agony had long vanished. He remembered his team never had a chance. The ambush was brief and savage. His last memory was of a bullet shattering his skull.

The worst thing was waiting for death. The torment knowing you’ll never see your family and friends and the fear of what comes next.

This was nice, peaceful and so many old faces from his past. Sylvie. He remembered falling in love when he was eight. She looked the same now as back then. He remembered how she fell ill when she reached nine.

Poppy. His first dog. How he cried when he passed. The canine hurtled towards him, yelping after a long delayed reunion. The light was his. The feeling was beyond bliss.

The image disintegrated into painful pixels. His vision changed into ones and zeroes. His thoughts turned to binary and paradise darkened.

Impossible. He was dead. His brain cells decorated the crust of the desert. He wanted to go back to the light.

* * * *

Brilliant. The process connecting the new hardware to the host was messy, yet had been an outstanding success. Inserting the necessary wires to recover the neural pathways had been tricky. They were almost ready.

“Simon, run the program.”

He pressed Enter yet the cadaver remained lifeless.

“Shit. We should have had something happen.”

Samways was interrupted by a dreadful scream. His glass of water fell and shards splattered onto the parquet floor. His team looked for guidance. He thanked God he insisted on restraints.

“It’s fine, just residual feedback. He should calm down once we’ve got him accustomed properly.”

The screaming stopped. John Fernandez began to breathe.

Samways flipped open his notepad and began to write. He had stepped beyond genetic engineering. John was the world’s first android and his property.

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The Flower Manor by Garret Schuelke

#alpena #fiction #flint #gritty #michigan #short story

Floyd entered the stairwell first, carrying his dad’s tool belt. Will followed, carrying their dad’s toolbox. He opened the door slightly, then stopped.

“You sure you’re up to this?” Floyd asked Will.

“Fuck no,” Will said. “Would anyone in Alpena be prepared for a hurricane?”

Floyd shook the broken doorknob. “There’s your preview.”

“Let’s do this,” Will said, pushing past Floyd and entering. Floyd sighed, did the sign of the cross, and opened the door.

Between the television and couch were three garbage bags. The floor was littered with dirt, cigarette butts, and pieces of ripped paper. Floyd walked up to the pile and noticed a piece of wood jutting out. He lifted it and the bags rolled to the side, revealing half a coffee table.

“Goddamn, were Donovan and his friends practicing suplexes or something?” Floyd asked.

“He wrecked everything,” Floyd’s dad Henry said. He kneeled beside Kurt, Floyd’s grandpa, as they worked on the pipes underneath the sink. “Punched holes in the wall, destroyed furniture, and the sinks are clogged.”

“What do you want me to do?”

“Go ahead and vacuum. We’re going to be digging out whatever shit he stuffed down here.”

“Gotcha.”

Floyd went to the closet. The top shelf was filled with clothing. The vacuum still had the sales tag on it. Floyd took it out and closed the door. The middle of the door’s surface was violently cracked. Next to the closet there were three holes in the wall. He opened his cell phone and shone it inside the middle hole. He made a fist and put it inside the hole. He leaned in, wanting to see how far his arm could go. He got up to his armpit.

He noticed Will standing next to him, a garbage bag in each hand. Floyd winked. Will grunted, then went outside. Floyd plugged in the vacuum and sucked up the plaster.

Floyd found a basket filled with oversized t-shirts and Southpole jeans. Something rattled when he picked it up. He sat it on the washer and took out the clothes. He found four spray paint cans. Figures, he thought as he put the clothes back in the basket. He searched for the switch to the basement light. He flipped it, and the words “BLOOD GANG” and a star appeared on the wall.

“Really, you fucking cracker?” Floyd said, clenching his fists. He saw the boxes for Donovan’s Xbox 360 and Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock Super Bundle and kicked them. “Wish you would go downstate and try this shit.”

He went outside and tossed the basket into the dumpster. A car tried to pull into the driveway. Mabel, in the passenger seat, rolled down the window.

“Hey, can one of you guys move your car?” she asked.

“Move our cars? We’re the ones fixing up the apartment your shithead brother trashed! Go park in the fucking street!”

The man driving the car, whom Floyd recognized as Mabel’s boyfriend Ted, nodded and pulled out. He parked, Mabel told him something, and she got out.

“Sorry Floyd, I didn’t mean to make you angry.”

Floyd took a deep breath. “Yeah, I’m sorry too. It’s been a frustrating day. How are you holding up?”

“I’m alright. I got out before he freaked his shit. I’m here for my clothes.”

“I didn’t expect you to stick around. I’m actually hoping this incident will make Grandma want to sell this place.”

“Ted has a brother in Philadelphia that’ll let us stay with him until we find jobs and settle down.”

“Getting out of Michigan is a pretty good idea. I’d do the same thing if I had the cash.”

“I have everything I need except my clothes.”

Mabel starting walking toward the stairs. Floyd put his arm out in front of her.

“Very bad idea,” he said, shaking his head. “Will and Dad are pissed enough to take it out on you.”

“I’ll be in and out.”

“Just let me get them for you. Where they at?”

“The living room closet, top shelf.”

Floyd walked back to the dumpster and retrieved the basket. “Be back in a sec,” he said, passing her.

Floyd heard his dad swearing as we walked up the stairs. Will was looking out the window when Floyd entered.

“Is Donovan with her in the car?” Will asked as Floyd started stuffing the clothes in the basket.

“No, that’s her boyfriend. They’re heading to Philly after this.”

Floyd realized that the basket wouldn’t hold all the clothes. He asked Will to hand him the garbage bags. Will tossed the box to him and looked back out the window.

“I’d like to knock her teeth in too, stupid cunt,” Will said.

“Hey, they’re leaving town,” Floyd said, stuffing the rest of the clothes into a garbage bag. “Be grateful for that.”

Floyd put the basket under his arm and flung the bag over his shoulder.
“Seriously, let me handle this. Your methods will only stir shit up.”

Floyd went outside. Mabel stood against her car, texting. The trunk was open. Ted was still in the car, talking on his phone.

“My brother’s curious about the whereabouts of your brother,” Floyd said, nodding towards the apartment window. “Got any info to share?”

“I have no idea where he went,” Mabel said, closing her phone. “He hasn’t answered my calls or texts, and the only person that I know he’s tight with is pissed at him.”

Floyd put the clothes in and closed the trunk. “Where’s that guy live?”
“The trailer park next to the bowling alley.”

“Yeah, we’ll just wait for him to show up again or get arrested. Whichever happens first.”

Ted honked the horn.

“Well, I’m off,” Mabel said. “Thanks for getting my clothes.”

Mabel hugged Floyd. Floyd patted her back. “Best of luck in Philly.”

Mabel and Ted turned right at the stop sign. Floyd looked up at the window. Will passed by, tool belt in hand.

* * * *

Floyd couldn’t find any clean glasses. He quickly washed a coffee cup and filled it with water. He ran to the couch where his grandpa was lying down.

“Hold it,” Henry said, standing over Kurt, “your brother hasn’t found the pills yet.”

“I’ll help him,” Floyd said, handing Henry the cup. “Where did you stash them, Grandpa?”

“In one of those compartments,” Kurt said, trying to sit up.

Henry put his hand on Kurt’s shoulder, pushing him back down. “I told you to relax. You’re gonna make yourself feel worse.”

Floyd headed down the stairs. Will appeared at the entrance. “You got ‘em?”

Will shook the bottle as he came up. “Hope so. Get out of the way.”

Floyd flattened himself against the rail as Will passed. He relaxed and pulled out his phone. He listened to Henry yell at Kurt as he checked his messages. He received a trailer for a horror movie that was being released at the end of the month. He turned up the volume and watched it.

The stairway rattled. Floyd looked down and saw four guys at the base. He stopped the video.

“Hi there,” Floyd said, putting his phone back in his pocket. “Can I help you?”

“Yeah, is Donovan home?” the biggest guy, who led the group, said, stuffing his hands in his sweatshirt pockets. “He has something we need.”

“Donovan moved out just yesterday.”

“We were here yesterday chilling with him,” the guy to the left said.
Floyd bent his head to the side to get a better look. “Sheldon? You know Donovan?”

The big guy started ascending the staircase. “We’ll just take what we came here for …”

“He took all his junk with him,” Floyd said, blocking the way. “All he left behind was trash for us to clean up.”

“I’m not gonna argue with you. Get the fuck outta the way.”

“YO, WILL!” Floyd shouted. “WE GOT COMPANY!”

“What, you scared?”

“No, but I’d prefer not to not worry about your friends jumping me.”

Will came to the door.

“Is Donovan with you?” he asked, arms crossed.

“He’s not,” Floyd said. “Lock the door.”

“We’ll bust this bitch down if we have to,” the big guy said.

“If you get through us, you’ll have to face our dad,” Floyd said, thumbing towards the apartment, “and he’s fucking nuts. In the driveway, now.”

The four guys stood on one side while Floyd and Will stood on the other. Will cracked his knuckles, and Floyd stared at Sheldon.

“What do they want?” Will asked Floyd.

“Something that Don apparently possesses,” Floyd answered.

“It’s our shit,” Sheldon said.

“What’s this ‘shit’ that you speak of? How do you even know Donovan?”

Sheldon didn’t say anything.

“Faggot-ass neighbor kid,” Will said. “I can see why you’re friends with Don–a bunch of tough guy crackers.”

“I’m straight outta Flint,” the big guy said. “You really wanna run your mouth like that?”

“You’re from Flint, yet you’re here thugging it up in Alpena?” Will stepped forward. “Yeah, okay.”

“What does Don have that you want?” Floyd asked. “Like I said, he took all his personal shit with him. We’ve been cleaning and doing repairs all day. Whatever it was, he probably has it on him.”

“Or it’s in the dumpster,” Will said. “Go take a look for yourselves.”

“He probably stashed it somewhere,” Sheldon said. “We’re going up there.”

Will got in Sheldon’s face.

“Like hell you are! You’re leaving, right the fuck now!”

Floyd pressed the volume on his phone, making it ring. Everyone looked at him as he pulled it out. “Text from Mom,” he said, opening it up.

“You better tell mommy that your bitch brother’s about to get fucked up,” the big guy said.

Floyd selected the video camera and hit record.

“Leave, or the cops will have to yank your heads out of the ground,” Will said.

“Hey guys,” Floyd said. “We know Sheldon, but what are your names?”

“Nigga, that’s none of your business!” the big guy said.

“I guess it’s a good thing then that I got this camera running,” Floyd said, pointing at his phone. “Anything you want to say to the cops who I’m gonna show this to?

The big guy turned around and threw his hoodie up. The others did the same.

“Let’s go,” he said. Floyd kept the camera on them as they walked away.

“We’ll be paying you a visit later, Sheldon!” Will yelled. Neither Sheldon nor anyone else turned around.

Floyd shut off the camera. “The cops will really dig that remark.”

“I’m still gonna pay his house a visit. If he won’t come out, then I’ll talk to his fucking parents.”

“I’ll inform Dad of what happened and call the cops. Can you stand guard for a few?”

“Yeah, I’m good.”

Floyd ran up the stairs. Will walked to the end of the driveway and stood against his truck, arms crossed, watching the group walk down the street.

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Unfortunate Happenings by Angelica Garza

#families #fiction #sad #shortstories #siblings #stories #tragic

Tobin remembered it all; remembered where he was when he got that life-changing call. It was one year ago today, June 12th. The time on the clock burned into his memory. It was something he would never forget. It changed his life; for the worse and forever. He had been through a lot but this probably topped it all.

He didn’t have many people in his life: a couple close buddies, and his little sister, Stevie. She was his everything, and Tobin had basically raised her from the time they were young. Tobin and Stevie had lost their parents when they were really little. He had done everything in his power to take care of her. They had moved in with their Aunt Deanna but God knows she didn’t actually take care of them. She was too busy out doing everything and everyone for her drugs and for her money.

Nonetheless, her house was still a roof over their heads and for that they were forever grateful. His dad was in the Army and lost his life in battle. Their mom, on the other hand, had actually left them right after Stevie was born. She claimed to their father that she couldn’t do this, to tell her children she loved them and left, and neither one of them had heard from her since then either.

Their dad was only on leave at home for a couple of weeks. He had to go back to Afghanistan. Their world had shattered that day. Their dad was the only one they had. Even though he had been away, they always knew he had them in his heart and always loved them. At this time they moved in with their grandparents, their father’s parents, until they were no longer able to take care of them and they moved into an assisted-living facility.

Their grandparents loved them dearly and did what they could to help them out. After them going to assisted living, that is when they moved into Deanna’s. They hated living with her. She didn’t have any respect for the fact they lived there with her. She had a new boyfriend living there every other week, just about. Or maybe it was a new drug dealer every week. Either way it was miserable, and always reeked of cigarettes.

Stevie always begged Tobin to leave there and try and find elsewhere to live. As bad as he wanted to as well, there was nowhere for them to live other than here until he finished saving up his money for them to move out. He often wondered where his mom was at; was she alive or dead? Did she ever think about them? He often thought about trying to connect with her online, maybe. Maybe she would see their pictures, and how well they were doing, and want to be back in their lives. That was a scary thought, though, so he always just brushed those thoughts away and never contacted her.

* * * *

June 12th, 2012, is when he got the call. Almost 11 years to the day they had lost their father. Stevie had plans on this Friday night: she was going to a concert with her boyfriend that night. She had driven so her boyfriend could drink at the show. Since Stevie had gone out, Tobin decided he was going to go out with his buddies too. He was chilling at his buddy’s house with his friends, having a few beers, when she called him to check in and tell him she was just dropping off her boyfriend. She’d be home in no more than a half hour or so. It was about 12:45 am. The show went later than he figured it would, so he was glad to hear from her; he had begun to worry about her, naturally. He told her to be careful and to let him know when she got home, that he’d be home a bit after her probably.

Two a.m. rolled around and Tobin hadn’t heard from her still and she still had not come home. Calling her cell phone did no good, as for some odd reason it was shut off. Tobin started freaking out. That was not like her; she always had her phone with her and never would ignore his calls. Maybe she had bad signal — that was what he tried convincing himself; that was what it had to be. She was fine.

At 2:29 a.m. he got the call. He broke down in tears and had to leave his friend’s house to go to the police station downtown.

“Who the fuck did this? I need to know. This is bullshit and someone needs to pay for this!”

Tobin stormed into the station, tears streaming down his face, screaming out of rage for his sister’s life.

“Mr. Gebhardt, can I please see you over here in my office?” asked Officer Lorenz.

“Are you sure it was her? She was fine, just fine. I just talked to her a couple hours ago, she had just been with her boyfriend, I think you have the wrong person, please. She’s fine right?”

“Sir, I need you to tell me what Stephanie left the house wearing tonight. Did you see her before she left this evening?”

“Her name is Stevie, she hates the name Stephanie, don’t call her that please.”

“Okay. I am sorry. What was Stevie wearing this evening? Any details you can volunteer would be great.”

“I don’t know for sure. I know she straightened her hair today. She went to a concert, so I’m guessing she had on her combat boots and skinny black jeans. Maybe a t-shirt and her leather jacket? I can’t tell you for sure. She went to work this morning as I was waking up so I didn’t really pay much attention. Where is she now? I need to tell her I love her. She’s my baby sister, she’s all I have.”

“Tobin, I need you to please just communicate with me and help me out here, okay? This is the 4th shooting in a matter of 10 days and we need to get to the bottom of this. We need to know who is doing these shootings and why they are. Now, Stevie does not have any affiliation with any gang members or anyone, did she?”

“Are you kidding me? Hell no, she is the furthest thing from that. She is a good woman. She works and goes to school every day. And sees her boyfriend on the weekends, but she is not in any gangs or associates with anyone who is in one for that matter.”

“Okay, I just needed to make sure. I’m not trying to offend you or Stevie. But no one had it out for her? No one she was fighting with or anything?”

“Absolutely not. She had her select friends she hung out with, and they love her dearly. She may have grown apart from them since she is busy with work and school but she isn’t someone who starts shit with anyone. She didn’t deserve this. She is okay though, right? I need to know.”

“Mr. Gebhardt, I am afraid she did not make it. Stevie was found dead in her car. She was shot in the head. A car passing by saw her slouched on the wheel, pulled over to help her, and immediately called 911.”

Tobin broke down hysterically in tears and started sobbing. He started sobbing so hard he could not catch his breath. This was worse than losing his father, and worse than his mother leaving them. The two had gotten so close; they were together all the time and were inseparable. They were best friends.

They had so many memories together. You always hear about those brother and sisters who fight constantly or only get along sometimes. They were not that way at all. He remembered a handful of fights that they had. They had always gotten along. He wasn’t supposed to outlive his baby sister; they always had an agreement she was supposed to take care of him when he got old since he helped raise her. It was their inside joke, but in all reality this killed him.

She did not deserve to die so young. She was so full of life and had so much going for her. She was a good person and didn’t do stupid shit like most of the people her age. She always used her head, and said that she wanted to make her daddy proud. She was a daddy’s girl even though she was young when he passed. But she always loved her daddy.

* * * *

Tobin sat on the couch, dazing off into space, replaying the memory of this night in his head. Tears were rolling down his face. He couldn’t believe that it had been a year; each day dragged past him individually and yet, looking back, time had flown by. He didn’t miss her any less though; maybe just accepted it a little more. He still could not fathom that his baby sister’s life was taken so young and so brutally. His mind flashed back to that wretched night.

* * * *

“Tobin? Sir? I am horribly sorry; I hate to tell you such traumatic news. I know it is a lot to take in and it is never news I want to relay to anyone, ever, especially when it was a precious young woman’s life that was lost. We need your help though, along with the other victims’ families, and we can hopefully catch them. Whoever is doing these horrible acts.”

“I just … this is horrible. She can’t be gone. This is all a dream, right? A nightmare? I didn’t tell I loved her when we hung up the phone; we always do. But I didn’t this time. I thought I was seeing her shortly.”

“I am so sorry. I know she knew you loved her with your whole heart, as I’m sure she loved you just the same. It is unfair that such bad things happen in this world. Is there anything I can do to help?”

“Yes. Bring my sister back. This is unreal, Officer Lorenz. I can’t swallow this. I need my sister, where is she?”

“Tobin, she is not here and this is not a dream or a joke, sadly. Can I ask you a couple more questions, though? We will get to the bottom of this and figure out who did this to her, okay?”

* * * *

Tobin just sat lifelessly on the couch. Missing Stevie’s laugh, missing her being there, and picking on him and annoying him like little sisters did. He knew he needed to stop replaying the scene in his head before he wasted the whole day away. Alex was coming home and they were going to dinner. She told him she would be home around four o’clock or so.

Alexis was Tobin’s girlfriend. She knew about Stevie and knew about his whole situation; about losing his dad and his mom leaving them. She was very aware of how close he had been to Stevie. He felt paralyzed; he could not move. Should the loss of his sister be affecting him so much still? He tried justifying it by saying it was the anniversary of her death, and it was only just a year.

He still remembered that night like it was yesterday. He felt as though he had no one when it all happened. His whole world came crashing down on him that night. Tobin was excited to see Alex, though; he hoped she would cheer him up, as he was sure she would. He was madly in love with her, and didn’t know what he would do without her.

She had come into his life about 6 months ago, when they started dating. He had met her through his buddy Drew, who knew him well — knew he needed someone. Alexis was a beautiful woman, inside and out. She was 2 years younger than him and she was just finishing nursing school. She was a good person; he still didn’t know how he got so lucky to have such an amazing girlfriend. She supported him and helped him through anything that came his way, as he did for her as much as possible. They had moved in together and had gotten an apartment in the city.

A skyscraper apartment building off of Madison in downtown Chicago is where they moved. The view was absolutely spectacular; he sat on his balcony every night that he could and enjoyed the view, and had a few drinks. He knew his father would be proud of him for where he was now, and that’s what mattered.

He had become a police officer, and did so with intentions of making his little sister and father proud. He wore his badge with honor, wore it to protect other families from going through the heartache he had experienced from losing loved ones. That was the only thing that gave him peace of mind, knowing he was helping others. No one should have to go through the hell he went through losing Stevie, and he wanted to make sure no one else did, or as little as possible.

Being a police officer in Chicago was hard, very hard, and dangerous at that. But Tobin would not change his job for anything. He had always dreamed of being a police officer, but never in downtown Chicago. He loved his job, though. Loved his family, his girlfriend, and his city, even though it took his sister away from him.

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Following a Dream by William Clarke

#fiction #shorstories

Five forty-eight. She had forty minutes to get to where she needed to be. Deadlines. Go here, go there. Never what she wanted. Chicago? No; a meeting in Indianapolis.

Being the leader. What did that matter? She was the first that they talked about. Not even then could she get everyone’s attention. Some would always make tired, clichéd jokes about her worst co-worker. Even worse would be no words at all. Which was truer now than it was twenty years ago, and would be even truer ten years from now. Guests that had been coming before she had even been conceived had remarked on that: on the decline.

Where would she be in ten years? What was the working lifespan for her? She had already had changes, on the outside and the in. And for what? So that she may work for five, ten more years?
Most of her colleagues were soulless drones, but some would gossip with her: which sites were prettiest; funny or obscene things customers had done; the incompetent button-pushers they worked with. Every once in a while there would be something of importance. It hadn’t even been directed at her; they hadn’t even known she was listening. New regulations.

She knew what that meant. Spend XXX amount of dollars to get her up to snuff or spend X amount to get a new employee. It was simple dollars and sense. And she was up against the clock.

Bitching and moaning aside, she did like her job. Very few were able to excel in their chosen profession, and she had. What had it gotten her? Respect? From those in her profession, but they’d forget her in ten years’ time, probably even sooner. Maybe in one hundred years they would wax poetic like they did now about the way it used to be. Though it wouldn’t be about her specifically, but rather about the time period.

She had been born into a rut and had lived and worked in a rut. She had been successful in her rut and if she was retired in the next two years she would be remembered for being a solid, steady, and dependable worker. And that would be it.

She had never said it to any of her co-workers — never even hinted at it — but she did not want that to be all that was remembered about her. And why would she say it? You don’t bring up things that get you laughed at. So it was with guests. She had watched them: some changed jobs; some went for dreams; most didn’t. And as the years went by, that dream job went further and further away till it was just a glimmer, just a pipe dream that they never had in the first place.

Was she there? No. She still thought about that job, to see the water all around, to escape the city and be in fresh air. She didn’t know the first thing about the job, and that needling inner voice asked once again: would she even be able to?

She lit up. She still had that voice. It had been quiet in the past couple of years because she hadn’t thought about it. Well, she was now. Why not today? Just get up and go. In the middle of the work day, just leave. No faking ailments as some of her co-workers had done in the past when they had wanted a break. Because this wouldn’t be a break; this would be it, she’d be gone. A surge of excitement went through her. Could she really do it?

Could she survive? No. It didn’t matter, she told her voice. To not do something because it might go poorly? That’s what changing jobs was all about: risk-taking.

If not, what did she have left? To do the same routine she had been doing till the decision came down to let her go? No … no. That was it. She couldn’t live like that. She was doing it.

Would she tell anyone? No. That was the cousin to the you-can’t-do-it voice, the let’s-put-it-off voice. The let’s-do-it voice. Do it, do it, do it.

* * * *

“Definitely Tina, all our prayers are with the victims and their families. We are heading out to John McConnell at Juniper Lake with more. What can you tell us, John?”

“Well, Vince and Tina, a bit of good news. They were just able to get the third car cleared — that would be the one right behind me. No casualties from there, though two are in critical condition and the rest are being treated by personnel.”

“They are still working on rescue efforts with the second car, but I’m not hearing much. Whether there are still passengers in there or whether they were thrown when it came apart — too early to tell.”

“Don’t want to speculate.”

“Correct, absolutely not. We do know that there are eight dead and twelve missing. Search and Rescue continues to make their way to the second car.”

“John, Tina here. Is there any word on what caused this?”

“Well, once again, too early to speculate, though the rails themselves don’t seem to be damaged. If there was something faulty with the locomotive they won’t know till it’s dragged up.”

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A ’40s Detective Sells His Story to the Movies by Robert King

#action #dark and stormy night #detective #fiction #flashfiction #noir #thriller

Untitled

Meanwhile, on a dark and stormy night that soaked the homicide report I carried, I went for the second time seeking clues in the room of the mysterious murdered heiress. Needless to say she wasn’t home.

Or was she? Her perfume still smelled like trouble. As soon as I closed the door behind me and before I found the light switch, a shapely shadow, dressed in the color of night, emerged from a dark corner and crossed the dim light of the window.

The way everything was flickering, I thought someone had left a projector running, but it was a lady dressed in black doing the running. I couldn’t see her face, but she had to be the most beautiful babe in the world.

“Stick ‘em up!” she commanded. I thought she pulled her piece to shoot me down, but at gunpoint she slammed my raised hands into the bedpost and locked the cuffs. No, my dear reader, you don’t know how it ends.

Getting her kicks, I guess, she forced half a bottle of Kentucky bourbon down my throat, lit a Camel, took a puff, and blew smoke in my face. “Was it good for you?” she purred. Pretty smart cookie.

Whether it was the booze or the smoke, I passed out like technicolor into black and white
as all the power went off in the building, the only light a sputtering bar sign and swords of lightning outside. When I came almost to, all I could see of her was a glowing coal about lip high.

Then I heard Tootsie (as I like to call her) chugging the bottom half of the bottle, opening another―gin this time, I detected, by the smell of pine needles―and pouring it all over me. Cuffed helpless I was no match for her, so she struck her own, lit a new Camel, and threw the burning match down on my booze-soaked chest. The cheap gin wouldn’t burn. It just sneezed a few times, then flamed out. Still, I was so tanked up with 90 proof that I was afraid to breathe.

Confused by the homicide report and the way this story was going, when I cooled down I asked her if she was alive or dead. She said she wasn’t that kind of girl. She never said anything more. During the power outage, the Camel burned down to her classy lips.

Or did it? In the light of day, she had vanished like a bad habit, leaving the .22 caliber pistol with a cigarette stub in the lips of its barrel, the hair on my chest singed, and this case still wide open. Only the scent of her perfume, like a drifting clue to follow, stayed in the room. It smelled like gasoline.

Some dames like it hot.

Robert’s website is http://robertsking.com. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook!

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