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  1. Gannon

    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
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    Manchester, England

    Short Story Contest (32): Theme - Descent Into Madness - Submission & Details Thread

    Discussion in 'Bi-Weekly Short Story Contest Archives' started by Gannon, Oct 30, 2008.

    Short Story
    Contest 32
    Theme: Descent Into Madness​

    Open to all, newbies and established members alike. Please post your entries in this thread. At the deadline I will collate all entries and put them forward for voting in a seperate thread. Sadly there are no prizes but honour on offer. The winning entry will be stickied until the next competition winner.

    Theme: Descent Into Madness (courtesy of member Fluxhavok). Try to chart the transition from sane to insane.

    Suggested Wordlimit: 500 - 3000 words.
    Deadline for entries: Novemeber 12th 2008 16.00 (UK local)

    There is a 10% leniency with regards to the wordlimit. Please try to stick within the limit. Any piece outside of the suggested limit will still be entered into the contest but flagged as such, and eligibility determined by vote alone.

    The next contests will be themed: A Regretted Lie and Coming To Terms With Mortality if you wish to prepare an entry early. The word limit for these contests is 500 - 3000 words. Do not submit entries for these contests until instructed to do so.

    Try to make all your stories complete and have an ending rather than be an extract from a larger one and please try to stick to the topic. Any piece seeming outside of the topic will be dealt with in a piece by piece manner to decide its legitamacy for the contest.

    Submissions may not have been previously posted on this site, nor may they be posted for review until voting has closed.

    Please try to refrain from itallicising, bolding or indenting any text to help avoid disappointment. These stylistics do not reproduce when I copy-paste them into the voting thread.

    Please remember to give your piece a title and give its word count in brackets at the top of your story.

    Thanks and good luck.
  2. Heather Louise

    Heather Louise Contributing Member Contributor

    Dec 10, 2006
    Likes Received:
    Cleaning out my Closet
    (1066 words)

    Monday Morning. I hate the rain, yet it is pounding from my window pane like it wants to break inside. Why could it just not be sunny today?

    My alarm hasn’t gone off, yet I’m awake. I wonder why? My room is silent, the sort of silence that eats up every other sound so there is just, silence. It’s dark too.

    Reluctantly, I pull myself up in bed and throw the covers away: if I am cold I will be more likely to run for the shower. It works, within minutes I am standing in the bath basin with scolding water pelting my back. I feel every bead washing over my body, cleaning away the impurities. A cliché, I know, but I can feel it. Today feels strange; there is something about it which tingles. Like when you have forgotten something and it niggles at the back of your mind. Shaking free the feeling and some of the water droplets, I dry myself, thinking only of breakfast.

    The drive to work seems to be taking longer than it usually does. It is strange; there is no traffic. The streets are empty, the road devoid of life, yet each minute seems to flick by like a second, and I haven’t moved. I hate my work.

    As I pull into the car park, eventually, the hospital looms over me like a concrete giant, ready to pounce. I can already feel the ill; smell the insane. Feel death crawling along my skin. As I lock the car door and head for the hospital, I can feel it pulling me in with icy fingers. It won’t let me leave tonight.

    The sick are waiting just inside the door, perched on plastic chairs and mothers’ knees’. A Pepsi machine flashes “empty”, causing confusion and annoyance among the waiting. They are all waiting.

    “Doctor Swash, Penelope Hanker is waiting for you in your office,” the receptionist informed me as I walked down the same corridor I had walked for the last seven years. I nodded.

    “Good morning Penelope,” I chirped as I entered my office. It was large and spacey, with large windows allowing light to force its way inside. My desk sat tucked against a far wall and several chairs and a couch sat snugly in the center of the room. Yet there is a dark hole, something malice in here with me. She sat on a chair near the window, her knees tucked neatly under her chin, her dark eyes watching me like I was a poor little rabbit. Her prey. I take a seat opposite her.

    “How are you feeling today, Penelope?” She stared. Blinked. Her lank hair hung over her gaunt face, lifeless, like her soul. Yet another cliché facing me today; the typical insane woman.

    “Nurse Paula informs me you have been effusing your medication. Why is that, Penelope?” Again, she just watches, observes. Her ignorance is infuriating.

    “You do understand that you must take your medication, don’t you, Penelope? Remember what happened last time you were ill. Do you remember?” My mind flashed back to another rainy morning three years ago. Penelope looked pretty much the same; her hair still unwashed, her skin sallow, her aura cold. Both her wrists bled, a crimson blood which clashed horrifically with her skin. Her face smiled, a cruel laugh emitted from her lips. An empty pill bottle lay upon the floor next to her.

    “Nurse, someone help!” I screamed as I pinned her to the bed. “Nurse!” I shrieked again, tears burning in my eyes. Penelope needed her stomach pumped; I had never performed this before. Panic flooded through my body, hot then cold, indecisive.

    “Move,” a nurse commanded as she rushed into the room and busied herself over Penelope. I watched helplessly, wishing, praying to God in whom I did not believe.

    Penelope shifting in her chair brings me back to the present. My teary eyes search her wrists; the scars have been newly opened. I swallow.

    “Penelope, have you been self harming again?” I ask, my tone as steady as I can muster. A thousand thoughts are pulsing through my mind, a cold Penelope, blood stained sheets, my mother lying, motionless upon the kitchen floor.

    “Penelope!” She stirs, shaken at my outburst. Her eyes, once empty, now show nothing but malevolence.

    “He won’t stop,” she said, her voice hoarse, unused. My mother once said the same thing. “It makes him stop.”

    “What does he say to you, Penelope?” I force myself to ask. She sniffs.

    “He wants me to hurt people. He says it will make them better people.”

    My mother’s voice rang through my mind, her insistence that it was for my own good. That her beatings would help me grow as a person. “Starvation helps the soul,” she would say.

    “But you do not want to hurt people, do you Penelope?” She shakes her head fractionally. “So you hurt yourself instead, hoping it will make him happy.” A nod.

    “Doctor,” she whispers, her voice barely audible over the humming radiators. “I have done something.” A spark ignites in my mind. Curiosity.

    “What have you done, Penelope?” She swallows, I can see her throat pulsing, pausing.

    “There was some tablets on the nurses desk,” she says, her eyes still focused upon me.

    “You stole them didn’t you?” I ask, encouraging her on. Again, she nods. “And did you take them, Penelope?” Another nod.

    “Help me, doctor. Please,” she pleads. For the first time, her eyes swim with tears, glistening, real tears. Like she had those years before, like my mother used to as I wept on the kitchen floor, I laughed. Penelope’s skin shines with a dim yellow glow: jaundice. Her liver is failing.

    “Doctor,” she stammers once more, her lips cracking, her eyes turning inwards. Leaning forwards, I place a hand upon her knee.

    “Penelope, this will make you a better person.”

    Monday night. It was a long day at work and still, when I left the hospital, it hadn’t stopped raining. Yet there was a little spec of light shining through the clouds as I drove home, and now, as I sit and watch television, I feel something in my heart. Not a sorrow for the life lost today. Not guilt for not helping the defenceless girl. No, I feel something much more powerful.

    Happiness, for making Penelope a better person.
  3. Silque

    Silque Member

    Jul 7, 2008
    Likes Received:
    The Old Boiler House by J.L Shelley - (3,036)

    The snow crunched softly underfoot, as I made my way across the field to the old boiler house that sat just on the edge of the woods. An icy breeze floated across the sky, biting voraciously at my cheeks, leaving a tingling sensation as it sped past. My eyes had begun to tear, and the breeze had been the final jolt in pulling the rolls of liquid over the brim of my eyes and down my face. It hadn’t snowed here for around six years, but in the space of just a few hours, the heavens had opened and the ground had been carpeted in a soft, white felt.

    The sky was a rich rainbow of colour, with dark reds mixing with soft reds, which in turn mixed with yellows and gold and purples, to form a magical mosaic, wrapped up in a cool blanket of darkness, just overhead. The sun had just fallen below the trees, which meant that the snow covered ground was a mix of dark orange and no colour. Pretty soon, the sun would be gone, and I would have to find my way through the snow going only by the soft glow coming from the whiteness of it all.

    Looking from side to side as I walked, the wind pulled up freshly laid powder, and swirled it around in a beautiful maelstrom. The snow was relentless, and coupled with the bite of the freezing cold wind, I was fairly certain that I hadn’t worn nearly enough layers. My teeth began to chatter, and after a few minutes, my jaw began to ache.

    I walked for some time longer, until I came to a little clearing where the snow had been blocked from hitting the ground. It was the first colour of brown I’d seen since I had set off from the house around twenty minutes ago. It seemed a little strange, that only here should the snow have been stifled. A circle that was no bigger than a tractors wheel, with only stones and dirt inside it, not a patch of snow anywhere but around it. I walked tentatively into the circle, my feet crumbling the stones and dirt that lay underfoot. The area felt warm, and peaceful, and for some strange reason, the snow and wind and the bite that came with it, ceased to pass through this tiny little area.

    I stood there, for a few minutes just embracing the warmth. The oddity of it all never struck me, until I set off walking again some moments later. At first, my only concern was soaking up the warmth that the circle encapsulated, then, as reality began to set in once again, the weirdness kind of freaked me out. Why was it there? Why was it warm? What the hell was it?

    I didn’t look back as I made tracks once again across the field. The boiler house was almost in sight now, and I desperately needed to get there. As I continued across the field, I noticed something up ahead, a white shape of no real description moving swiftly across the field. The shape continued until ‘It’ was merely a blur in amongst the falling snow. I thought no more of it, until I drew close to the area in which I had seen the shape, and felt the slight tingling of fear creep upon me, as I saw the tracks that had creased the snow ridden ground.

    They were neither hooves nor trotters, but a strange mixture of both. In amongst each one, droplets of red were sprinkled on the snow like strawberry syrup on vanilla ice cream. I dare not hazard a guess as to what the substance was, but I was pretty sure it wasn’t strawberry syrup. The tracks were spaced around a foot apart, and lead off into the direction of the boiler house, which was now some thirty feet away. I stood, staring solemnly at the tracks, then at the boiler house, and then at the tracks once again. Combined with the strange circle that I had encountered only fifty yards back, things were starting to take a shift to the weird side. I started forward, following the same path as the tracks in the snow.

    The strawberry syrup (or so I hoped) continued to align itself with the tracks, and the further I walked, the thicker it got. It suddenly began to form a small river, only metres away from the old wooden door of the boiler house.

    I crept up to the old door, where a small beam of light pierced the wood and hit the soft, cool snow of the field. As I got closer, a foul odour began to singe my nostrils; it didn’t smell natural, and despite the efforts of the ferns, trees and crisp fresh snow; they couldn’t over power it. Holding my nose, I crouched down, and pushed my face up towards the crack in the door, eagerly anticipating, yet fearful of what I might see. Despite the boiler room being some 400 years old, the inside appeared to be in full working order, save the odd cobweb and pile of dust. Two men stood silently at a table in the distance, and appeared to be working on something. From my spy hole, the men appeared to be very tall and broad, and both wore clothes that looked like they had been plucked from a Victorian market stall. I could hear them grunting to one another, their words sounded slurred, but they responded to each other almost instantaneously. The taller of the two motioned towards something on the table at which they were stood, and again, almost lightning-quick – the small one passed him what looked to be a hammer. I altered my position to alleviate the on setting cramp in my calf; the soft grass was a welcome relief to my throbbing thighs and ankles. The grim interior of the old boiler room was in stark contrast to its beautiful surroundings. A crystal clear stream that had been freshly crystallised by the frost and ice, ran parallel to the old building and gurgled its way through the rocks and reeds, and provided home to an abundance of creatures; notable by their choir like effort to ignite the silence within the little area that lined the field with trees. The boiler house, the trees, the stream, the few birds – all read like something out of a Robert Frost poem; it was nature at its finest, meeting human will at its best. The men, who were still standing at the table had been discussing something for a few minutes, and the hammer in the hand of the taller one hadn’t seen any action as of yet. As if the man had read my thoughts, he brought the hammer down towards the table with a powerful swing, ‘Crunch’...

    It wasn’t the sound I was expecting. It was as if the hammer had just connected with a coconut and not the materials commonly used by boiler house workers.

    The loud crunch made me jump, and as a result, my balance was lost and I toppled sideways into the wooden door. Scared and trembling, I looked through the small crack in the door once again. The two men hadn’t heard my clumsiness and were still working vigorously at the old wooden work bench.

    I knew I shouldn’t have left the house. Aunt Evelyn had warned me not to venture into the field or the woods, but as per usual, my curiosity had gotten the better of me and here I was, sitting outside a lonely old boiler house, trembling; half through excitement and half through fear.

    I rose slowly to my feet, and crouching, started to move stealthily around the side of the building that faced the icy cool stream. The warmth from the window was a glorious remedy to the biting wind that had been scorching my skin. I shuffled slowly through the long grass that pierced the snow, dodging old piles of wood and unused tools. There was only one window on this side of the mill and I didn’t want to be seen. There were several vents, close to the roof, but they were too high to peer through. I traced the wall of the building right down past a well that was crisp with frost, until the wall ended and I came to the far corner. Things seemed a lot quieter here; not a whisper could be heard. Even the stream had gone quiet. My heart started to beat furiously, as I peered slowly around the corner of the mill. A man stood at what appeared to be a table. Bowls and plates were scattered everywhere and a pungent smell floated on the cold breeze. I watched silently, as he reached into one of the bowls and pulled something out, something red, and stuffed it into his mouth voraciously. Unsure as to what it was he had devoured, I squinted into the darkness to get a better look, but I couldn’t see a thing. The man suddenly stopped, and turned around with lightning quickness. I ducked down beneath an old barrel, and hoped to God that he hadn’t spotted me. I heard footsteps approaching, crushing the fresh snow to the dry earth below. I could feel his presence, but within seconds of his approach, and subsequent scout – he turned around, and retraced his steps.

    I held my position for a few minutes longer, not wanting to bring about any unwanted attention to myself. I peered around the corner of the barrel; no one was about. The table still stood where it had; still adorning the multitude of cutlery and freshly glazed with an icy top. I watched for any movement. Nothing stirred. Just the cool breeze, ruffling the damp leaves in the old Oak trees.

    I sat with bated breath, not wanting to move for fear of been heard or seen by the men in the boiler house. I was forced to shift positions, as my jeans were started to sodden, as the snow underneath me melted into a brown slush. Crouching, I retreated back to the corner of the building. Once there, I peered again in the direction of the table at which the man had stood only minutes earlier. All was still. I had to get to that table, I had to know what the man had been eating, and what they were doing in that boiler house, and what in the hell that white shape was that had lead me on a bloody trail straight to this building.

    Despite the coolness of the air; sweat droplets began to form on my brow. Within seconds of their formation, a screen of frost began to transform them into tiny little domes that covered my pores. Still crouching, I slinked my way over to the table, my head on a swivel as I approached. The bowls were all empty, and not a drop of red was splashed anywhere. It didn’t make sense. The man I had seen had clearly stuffed something red into his mouth. I saw it, as plain as day. Next to the bowls was a shining, silver knife, with an ivory handle that reflected the rising Moon, beautifully into my path. I picked the tool up tentatively. I’d always had a phobia of sharp objects, ever since I was a small boy. Still, I forced myself into picking up the knife and when I looked down at it again, it was covered in thick, red blood.

    The blood dripped quickly from the blade of the knife, dropping gently onto the snow below. I looked at my hands, nothing. Then, I slowly caught sight of my wrists. Both of them had been sliced deep, and blood poured out of both wounds with gushing enterprise. Shocked, I stumbled sideways towards to the door of the building, my vision becoming blurry and my legs beginning to tingle beneath me. I staggered into the door, which was ajar, and with little effort fell in wards onto a cobbled floor that was sprinkled with hay. I could hear no sound, and the silence scared me.

    With great effort, I managed to pull myself up slowly, and leaning against a wooden beam that held the building up, began to drink in my surroundings. The picture began to clear slowly but surely. The blur of the lantern that hung from the ceiling, turned from a hazy gold, into a clear burst of yellow. The brown walls transformed from blocks of molten chocolate, into tangible entities. And standing no more than 10 feet away, the three men, tall and broad, eyes like burning coals and oily disfigured faces, all stood, staring menacingly at me.

    It was the tallest out of the three that made the first move. His skin looked like the surface of the Moon, with pock marks devastating his pores, and making him look even scarier than the situation permitted. He walked slowly towards me, not making much of a sound, save the odd grunt and wheeze that erupted from his chest. I shrank back into the corner, covering my head with my hands, hoping desperately that the man wouldn’t harm me. Why the hell had I come here?

    The man’s hand came down towards me, blocking out the rays of light that filtered through the dusty air from the old lantern. He grabbed me by my shoulder and with his other hand, picked me up and led me across the room to the old wooden bench that was the main feature of this grim place. The other two men stood, watching as he placed me on the bench, and tied me down with leather straps – one on each of my wrists and one on each of my ankles. I’d seen plenty of horror movies, but one can only believe so much. With a stomach full of candy and highly powered sugary drinks, the mind plays tricks. Now, I was playing the starring role in my own horror blockbuster.

    The last thing I remember was the lantern, swaying rhythmically as it hung from the beam that intersected the roof. Then, the wheezing from the ugly faced man and all went hazy again.

    “Why are you doing this to me? I whimpered.

    No reply.

    “What have I done wrong?” I continued softly.

    The man picked up a long syringe, and came towards me, not saying a word.

    “No, please, don’t...”

    He stuck the needle into my arm, and within seconds I could hear, nor see, nothing.

    When I finally opened my eyes, three nurses stood staring down at me. One was beautiful. She had long, chestnut air and deep emerald eyes that sparkled as the sun filtered in through the venetian blinds that hung at the window. They were chatting quietly amongst each other. I couldn’t hear what they were saying.

    My arms were still bound and my legs too, but not in leather straps, there were bandages around my wrists and also my ankles. But where were the men? And where was the boiler house? I was in a bed. A lovely room surrounded me, with a vase of carnations at on a dresser near to the door and a picture of Florence hung from the wall that faced the bed. The nurse walked over towards me. What was going on?

    “How are you feeling young man?” she asked, in a beautiful voice.

    “Where am I?” I replied, quizzically.

    “You had another episode. The janitor and two of the kitchen staff found you creeping around in the basement. They weren’t sure why you were down there, or how you’d gotten out of your bed, and your room, I'm afraid to tell you, that you had another nasty accident. So we've had to bandage up your wrists. Your lucky to be alive”

    “Basement? No, no, I was at my Aunt Evelyn's. I’d gone to the old boiler house because our water had suddenly turned off. Where am I?"

    “You’re in the Psychiatric unit. You’re probably just weary from the medicine. It’s a common side effect”

    “No, you don’t understand. I was in the old boiler house, there were three men there and it was snowing heavily”

    “Ha-ha, oh you do please me with your stories. They are quite wonderful. Imagine that, snow, here in California. Why, it hasn’t snowed here for six years”

    I lay in the bed, staring up at the ceiling, confused, tired and frustrated.

    “We’ll leave you to rest a little” the nurse said softly.

    I turned my head towards the window, and allowed the golden rays to wash my face with multitudes of colour.

    The three nurses started towards the door. Again, they were chatting quietly amongst themselves, but I couldn’t hear what they were saying. I wasn’t too bothered. I needed to rest. To sleep off the drugs they had administered to me in the boiler house. Why wouldn’t they believe me?


    “Oh, he does come up with some wonderful stories” said the head nurse to the others.

    “Yes, it’s just the medicine. It will wear off after a while” replied the small nurse

    “It’s strange why his bottom was so wet, and his feet too. It’s as if he’d been out in the rain all night”

    “Don’t be silly, it hasn’t rained here for years. I think he’d lost all control and urinated on himself”

    “Ah, yes, very plausible”

    “He’ll be fine by this afternoon”


    I awoke out of a very nice sleep. The room was dark now, and save a golden beam of light that shone in under the door, I couldn’t see much of anything.

    Something started to move in the corner of the hospital room. I was sick, I know that now. And the dreams that I had been having were so tangible that they were like living a second life.

    There was more movement in the corner of the room.

    The medicine helped calm me down, if I ever got too out of hand and wondered off into the hospital. I was a sick, sick person. I hurt myself at times too. But I was getting better.

    A shadowy figure started towards me from the corner of the room, I couldn’t make out who it was.

    “Nurse?” is that you I called softly.

    No reply.

    “Nurse?” I called again.

    Suddenly, some noise crept out of the mouth of the figure.

    A grunt, followed by a deep, sickening wheeze...
  4. Teele

    Teele Contributing Member

    May 30, 2008
    Likes Received:
    Cold Lake, Alberta, Canada
    Prisoner (826 Words)

    I was hauled roughly by the arms, dragged deeper into the darkness of the palace dungeon. Always deeper. Always darker. The light of the torches became the only reprieve from the darkness. It flickered in flashes of dim orange and yellow across the walls. Time seemed to drag ever onward as the guards shoved me roughly down flight after flight of stairs. Several times I fell, my body connecting solidly with the rough black stones from which this hell had been made.

    One final push, and then the slam of a door, and I was free of them. I heard the click of a lock, and I sat down on the ground, letting out a breath. Finally, they had left me in peace. For a time, I was content simply to sit and heal and think about the things that had happened to me. It was indeed a strange twist of fate that had brought me from the towers and pinnacles of a rich life of contentment down to this place.

    But the fact still remained that I was here, and would be here for some time. What lay before couldn’t be brought back, however much I wanted it. My eyes slowly grew accustomed to the darkness, and through the small barred opening in the heavy door, I could see the firelight flickering.

    It must have been hours later when I heard footsteps. A small compartment at the base of the door lifted, and a plate was shoved inside. I got up and walked over to it. Exactly what it was, I couldn’t tell, but I grimaced slightly as I bit into it. Stale bread. There was a cup of water with it, which I appreciated much more. I choked down the rest of the bread. I imagined I would get hungry enough not to care.

    For the first day, I was able to busy myself with my own thoughts. After that, I became hopelessly bored. And with that, I was annoyed, since I knew I would be spending much more than a day in here. As they drew on, the two meals became the daily highlight. Often, I paced about my cell, or swept up the dirt on the floor with my hands and organized it into neat piles, or felt about the walls and counted the stones.

    I was bored, but I never really began to become fearful until the fifth day. They brought in about two dozen prisoners, most yelling and screaming. I went to the hole in the door and looked out. Dark faces passed by, followed by those of the guards. I recognized none. Slowly, the quiet descended again as they were all locked in their own cells. At first, they were quiet; some whimpering softly, some talking across the hall in hushed tones.

    Time went on, and the voices were always there; whether quiet or loud. And as the monotony of voices and boredom droned on, I slowly began to see things. Suggestions and moods spoken by the voices became real in my mind. These images became slowly more disturbing. Cries for mercy; threats of gruesome death; the final cries of tortured men…

    I couldn’t sleep. Nightmares would plague me, driven on by the endless voices. Images of the things they spoke of became horrifyingly clear in my mind’s eye. People were killed and tortured and left to rot. Slowly, the things I used to know became nothing to me. Not even the remnants of a fleeting dream. Slowly, I became one with the darkness that tormented me. And all I knew were the voices, and the images. Nothing I could do would give me any relief. I screamed back at them, I tried to run from them, I tried to fight them. But always, all I accomplished was to weaken myself before them. And they would laugh and taunt and jeer. Time blended together into a never-ending stream of torments. I could see no end. I could remember no beginning.

    The young guard walked down the stairs, his brow furrowed in apprehension. How long had it been since anyone besides the feeders had been down here? He clutched the torch in his left hand, and kept a firm grip on his sword with his right. He took the last step down to the dirt floor. He came to the first cell and peered in through the small barred opening.

    “Hey, in there.” He saw a glint, and then a flash of movement, and then the wasted, wrinkled face of a man was pressed against to the opening, screaming nonsense and obscenities. The guard took a startled step back, the fear swelling in him. The man was old and scraggly-haired, and there was no reason or sanity in his eyes.

    But, the young guard realized, were this old man’s face younger, and his eyes free of the torture that had beset them, he would look just like him.
  5. R J Parkinson

    R J Parkinson Active Member

    Sep 17, 2008
    Likes Received:
    From Haven to Hell (1374 Words)

    After rising from my bed, I sat on my chair and waited for breakfast to be delivered.
    This was my favourite time of the day because it was so quiet and serene, and I could think my thoughts before the distant sounds of televisions and radios broke the silence. This was also my favourite time of year too. How wonderful the Copper Beech trees looked in their glorious splendour of umbers and reds, swaying gently in the breeze.

    It was a soft knock this morning, which meant it must be Nurse Janice.
    I tested my assumption, “Come in, Janice.”
    “Good morning Frank, how are you today?”
    “Very well, thank-you Janice. I was just looking at the trees, aren’t they beautiful.”
    “Yes, they’re lovely, same colour as your pyjamas.”
    “Ah yes, but I’m not quite in my autumn yet.”
    Janice smiled.

    I took the tray, and smiled back, “Thank-you.”
    “Don’t forget you’ve got your meeting with Doctor Hensworth this afternoon.”
    “I won’t, two o’clock sharp.”
    “Enjoy your breakfast Frank.”

    As Janice opened the door I could hear in the distance that someone had just switched on a television, or radio, and I let out a little sigh as the door clicked shut. I returned my gaze to the window.

    * * *

    “Good afternoon Frank.” Doctor Hensworth glanced at his watch, “Right on time, as always.”
    “Of course Doctor, punctuality is a virtue in my opinion.”
    “Absolutely. Please take a seat. Actually, opinions are what I’d like to talk to you about today,” he shifted his position and leant forward on the desk towards me, his hands locked together.

    “How do you feel, Frank?” He looked over the top of his wire framed spectacles, which were perched on the tip of his nose, his eyelids were crinkled with age.
    “I feel great Doctor, never been better.” It was true.
    “Good, good.” He nodded in agreement and uncrossed his thumbs, pressing the pads together.
    “When you were brought to us Frank, you needed help. You were very unstable. I believe that the stress you were under at that time was very much to blame for your problem, and actions.” He leant back in his chair and gently removed his spectacles.
    “My opinion, is that you no longer have that problem; that you have benefited from the help you have received here one hundred percent.”
    “Yes Doctor, everyone has been so wonderful, I feel very lucky.”

    He placed the spectacles on the desk, “You have satisfied any question I have about your mental stability, and I’m very pleased to give you a clean bill of health.”
    “Thank-you Doctor, thank-you very much.”
    “So, the time has come for you to leave us.”
    The mantle clock ticked a few moments into the past, and I felt a very slight shift in my being.
    “What do you mean, leave?”
    “It’s time for you to re-integrate into society; to begin your life afresh.”
    I only stammered when I felt nervous, “But I don’t want to leave, I like it here.”
    “Frank,” Doctor Hensworth leant forward again, “You’ve shown every sign to us that with the right support, you can lead a very fulfilling life without being committed here. You no longer need your medication, as you’ve proved, and you have healthy interests and hobbies, you are physically and more importantly, mentally fit.”

    I blinked erratically as I tried to digest the Doctor’s words, “Where will I go?”

    “There are some very comfortable half way houses, where you can ease yourself back into a routine. You’ll get simple access to therapists, if you require, and you will have the benefit of state financial support. You could, in time, even start looking for work if you so wished. The main thing is to lead a life without stress and I believe, in my professional opinion, that you’ll be fine.”

    “Go to work?” I remembered; I used to be a carpenter, before I started seeing, them.

    “Of course. You have skills that are very valuable, a little re-training and I have every confidence in you. I’m going to sign your release papers today, to be effective from the beginning of next week. The institution will arrange your transport to your new home and I sincerely wish you all the best of luck for the future.” He smiled, and put his spectacles back on before turning his attention to some paperwork.

    I rose, unable to speak an argument against the Doctors wishes as shock held my tongue. I was so happy and safe here. I hadn’t seen a single one of those, things, since I had arrived; this was my haven, my home.

    As I walked along the stark corridor, wringing my hands, I started to remember. They used to be everywhere, they used to haunt me, that sound they used to make…
    When I got to my room I curled up on my bed.

    Monday came too soon.
    The words and cards of congratulations had done little to stem my increasing apprehension. No appealing had won favour of me staying, and encouragement replaced the sympathetic understanding I desired. After all, I had a clean bill of health, certified by Doctor Hensworth.
    My breakfast remained uneaten. I had reluctantly packed my suitcase and placed it on the bed and no sooner had my familiar chair relieved my weakening legs there was a hard knock at the door.

    Renewed shock hit me again
    Don’t answer it.
    “Frank, are you ready?”
    Don’t, answer it.
    “Frank, your taxi’s here.” The door opened halfway and John, the institution porter, peered through.
    He slowly walked over and sat on the bed next to me, “Come on Frank, you’ll be fine. There’s nothing to worry about, honestly. I’ll be coming with you to settle you in, it’s a nice place.”
    I stood up slowly, and my instinct was to run, but I was rooted to the spot. I needed a defence, an argument to stay. If only the shock would release my tongue, then maybe they could be persuaded at the last minute, but all I could do was begin to shake my head.

    John’s hand on my back forced me to shuffle forward and his stocky frame didn’t labour as he carried the suitcase. I was conscious of each yard of the corridor floor as we got closer to the front doors.

    And them. I was now very conscious of them.
    They were near. I could feel it like a sixth sense. I was sure that if we stopped, and I held my breath to amplify my hearing, as I used to do when I felt them close, I would hear that sound again.

    But we didn’t stop, we continued through the doors and onto the gravel of the driveway. If only everyone knew that the taxi cab parked there, was about to take me straight back to hell.

    There! I saw you, behind the tyre. I saw your eyes in the shadow you bastard. The shadows don’t hide you, I know your games.
    A scaly tail slowly slithered around the back of another wheel.

    I closed my eyes, and felt tears behind my eyelids, “No, no, no, I can’t do this John, I can’t!” My hands were trembling and wringing.

    I heard John pull the taxi door open, “You’ll be fine, come on Frank.” He gently manoeuvred me into the back seat and forced me to nudge along to let him sit. He slammed the door, “Cheers driver,” he prompted, and I felt the taxi pull away, crunching the gravel as it went.

    The only thing I could think of, was to run. As soon as the cab stopped, I was going to open the door and run as fast as I could. It was the only option I had, I just knew they were close.

    My nostrils abruptly filled with the putrid smell of rotten carcasses I had long ago forgotten about, and I jerked my eyes open. As my body started to seize and shake, I forced myself to look down.
    There in the foot-well, must have been twenty of them around my feet, staring at me with their glowing yellow reptilian eyes, their razor toothed grins widening as they started to hiss and jeer. Writhing and slithering, their scales rasped together causing that sickening sound.

    I filled my lungs with air, and screamed as loud as I could.
  6. Scattercat

    Scattercat Active Member

    Aug 28, 2008
    Likes Received:
    Under there.
    Succubus (1126 words)

    When Christina came back, things were a little strange at first. I wasn't sure what to say to her, or how to act around her. It had been so long since I'd even seen her.

    I’d nearly tripped over her. She was just sitting on the back stoop, her hair hanging over her face, her clothes soaked. It had stopped raining sometime yesterday morning, but she was as wet as if she'd just climbed out of a swimming pool. She was cold, too, icy to the touch. I found her there when I went to take out the trash. She didn't see me at first, and she seemed surprised when I threw my arms around her. Slowly, she reached out and hugged me back, and I knew it would be okay.

    Brad and Jenna couldn't believe it either. They'd talked to the police, too, all those months, and they'd been told the same thing I had. "After this long in a missing person case," Officer Trent had said, shaking his head and tugging at his earlobe, "well, it's best not to keep your hopes up." But he'd been wrong. They'd all been wrong. Christina had come back to me. I'd always known she would.

    She took some time to get back into the flow of things. She'd been traumatized. She couldn't remember some stuff. Like the bed. She wouldn't sleep on the waterbed at all, but just spent hours pressing it and watching the ripples. It seemed to calm her. I opened up the fold-a-bed couch and we slept there. And hamburgers. They threw her for a real loop. She screamed and hid her face when I brought them home. I gave her my fries so she wouldn't be hungry, but I had to eat my burger locked in the bathroom. She sat on the floor outside and sobbed until I finished.

    Her eyes were different. Brad was the first one to say something, but I'd already noticed. You can't expect someone to go through what she went through without any changes at all. Brad was really intense about it, though. I think he was still a little weirded out by Christina's disappearance; he hadn't quite gotten used to her being around again. He pulled me aside one day and whispered to me. I think he was scared of her overhearing. I told him not to be ridiculous, of course. Even if they weren't the same, I liked the new eyes just fine. The shade was very becoming on her, especially with her skin so pale. I think she'd been out of the sun for a long time. She never did get her tan back.

    She still loved the beach. She didn't spend any time sunbathing like she used to, though. Instead, she was in the water constantly. It used to be all I could do to get her to stand in the surf up to her ankles while I swam, but now she was always pulling me further and further out, until the lifeguards started blowing their whistles at us. You could feel the cold radiating up from the water, out where she swam now. Once I saw a fin that I swear was a shark.

    I was happy to have Christina back. I was even happier that we had more in common now. I can’t understand why Jenna started acting so weirdly. She and Christina used to be so close; shopping trips, lunches, vacations to the island. I thought maybe she was just trying to give Christina some space, but now I think maybe she was just a little jealous. I know it’s harsh, but Jenna’s never had anything on Christina when it comes to looks. Everyone knows Brad was pissed at me for getting Christina first. He settled; she knows it, I know it, and Christina knew it. She never made an issue of it, though. Christina was always so kind. Jenna couldn’t stand having her rival come back; all new and improved, no less. At any rate, she started avoiding Christina. She stopped coming by to take her out to buy clothes. She stopped calling on the phone. She even came by one day when Christina was out on her own – she did that sometimes, now that she’d came back – and gave me an earful. “It’s not Christina,” she said. “She’s not the same.” I told her she was being just as silly as Brad. You can’t expect someone to come out of such a harrowing experience exactly the same as she went in. Now THAT would be crazy.

    Jenna must have gotten Brad on her side. Probably played on that eye-shape thing that bothered him so much. Or maybe he was jealous, too; I told you how he’d always wanted Christina. “Where was she all those months?” they said. “What was it that really happened to her?” I told them we’d find out when Christina was ready to tell us, but they had to push it.

    You can’t blame Christina for what happened. She’d been through a lot. I told them not to interfere. I told them how happy we were together. I didn’t tell them everything, of course. I didn’t think they’d understand about all the differences of the new Christina. Besides, some things are private.

    I tried to keep them from poking around and upsetting her, but they did it anyway. I wish they hadn’t. I wish I’d been there. I could have stopped them. I could have saved Christina. Brad is the one who did it; he managed to get a shot off with that shotgun after she bit out his throat. He’d noticed her new allergy, too, and he’d loaded the gun with some custom shells. He was always a big firearms geek. He had a huge collection of Guns’n’Ammo. I think Jenna had gone in first, because there was less of her left.

    I hid the bodies, or at least the parts Christina hadn’t eaten before she died. Christina had made the perfect place for it, too. I tucked them all into the concealed closet, down in the nursery. The crib was still in there, from before Christina had disappeared. We’d been so happy, knowing our child was on the way. We still were, of course, though it was children, plural, now. I like to go in there at night and watch all the little bodies in their translucent sacs, glued to the wall and to each other with that foamy yellow gunk. They’re starting to move, now, and you can see the tiny, needle-like teeth. I wonder what they’ll be like, our children? I know you’ll be proud of them, Christina. They’ll be proud of you, too.

    I can’t wait for them to be born.
  7. Gamecat

    Gamecat Member

    Aug 18, 2008
    Likes Received:
    Heads I win (867)

    The coin arched gracefully through the air and landed in my outstretched hand with a satisfying smack.

    I could feel my heart begin to hammer a staccato beat. Butterflies of chaos spread through my stomach as I peered down at the silver disk.

    Tough luck bitch. It’s tails.

    I brought the hammer down on her head. A dull noise greeted my efforts, a crunch that was deadened by soft flesh.

    From her throat came a gurgling noise, part scream but mostly just knee jerk reaction. An automated response to the atrocity that was being born down on her.

    As the blood seeped from the staved in area of her cranium, I brought the hammer down again a further three times. By the third and final strike, blood had slickened the hilt of the hammer, making it hard to maintain my grasp of the wooden shaft.

    I knew I should have bought the hammer with the rubber grip.

    I smiled again. I was happier now than I had ever been.


    “****ing care in the community.” Came the harsh words from the passenger opposite me.

    He saw me, but he obviously didn’t see me, if you know what I mean.

    Admittedly I had just shouted at the whores further down the train, told them to “just shut up for ****s sake”, but that was because their laughter was starting to get to me.

    He could hear them laughing at me as clearly as I could. He knew that they were antagonising me. There was no call for his criticism of my reaction.

    “Tell him to **** himself!” Comes the whisper from behind.

    Another burst of laughter from the whores came and I knew they had just made another joke about me.

    “They’re laughing at your dick!” Said the voice

    It’s not my fault. It’s the medication I take.

    “Stop talking about my penis!” I shouted at them, they paused briefly and looked at me, then they started to laugh even harder.

    The man opposite was glaring at me now.

    I tried to smile at him, to show that I was taking the ridicule in good humour. He shook his head briefly then turned his gaze to look out of the window.

    I felt my face begin to turn red.

    I had to get out of there.

    I left at the next station, the laughter of the whores echoing in my ears as I made for the exit stairs.

    As I walked along Oxford street my face flushed with embarrassment, every three steps I caught another conversation about me. Glimpses of how others perceive me.



    “…I had to laugh…”

    The voices ranted at me for being so week, told me I’m nothing more than a worm in a mans body.

    It went on and on.

    Then it happened.

    I turned away from a really nasty comment about me, turned to hide my face and bury it in the window of a shop and something clicked.

    “Three-For-Two” the sign read. Three! Three! My lucky number. The number of a man. The number my life has been guided by.

    There on the shelf is the book I’d been guided to. All this time and Borders had been sheltering my salvation.

    The Diceman.

    I bought the book, it made a dent in my allowance but it was worth it.

    For the next week I went nowhere, I did nothing, I only ate when I had to.

    I only read.

    The story is about a psychiatrist who comes up with this idea.

    You use a dice to decide your actions.

    You present the dice with six actions that you could conceivably perform, then seek resolution through the tumbling cube’s movement.

    Of course the idea in the book is that you can overcome boredom with your life by using random chance to dictate what you will do, but I found that it helped me overcome my voices.

    You see, every time I made a decision they criticised me. But now I can ignore them. I didn’t make the decision you see, the dice did.

    I started off with a die but then realised the folly of such actions. Man is made of two sides, good and evil, black and white, saint and sinner, male and female.

    Just like good old Harvey Dent from Batman.

    So I switched to a coin.

    I no longer feel guilt, or shame, or remorse over my actions.

    It is not my personality that decides what I will do.

    It is the god of chance.

    Suddenly the taunts of children hold no fear. Heads I ignore them and contemplate their hatred, tails I kick the living **** out of them. Heads I go home and watch east enders, tails I hire a prostitute and indulge in hedonistic bliss. Heads I pay the prostitute, tails I bludgeon her to death with a hammer.

    Now that I am no longer responsible for my actions I feel at peace with the world.

    You should try it.

    It worked for me.

    It turned my mild mannered Clark Kent into a creature of fate and destiny.

    Try it.

    Make two choices. One good, one bad.

    Flick the coin.

    Too bad.

    Tails, you lose.
  8. lipton_lover

    lipton_lover Contributing Member

    Sep 19, 2008
    Likes Received:
    A Soldier's Final Flight

    A Soldier's Final Flight by Nate Weil

    As I walk up to the plane, an uncanny sensation penetrates me, like a brisk wind right through my body, giving me goosebumps. I know then that this will not be an ordinary mission. With a deep breath I climb up into the plane, into the copilot's seat, and I put my headset on. A moment before the engine was drowning out all other sounds but now all is quiet. I can't even hear the radio communications because this headset is made specially for me and this flight. I can tell. I look over at my pilot and give him the thumbs up. My Guardian Angel looks back at me with a smile. We both look forward and I notice that this plane has a peculiar feature. There are no controls or instruments. Instead, it has a glass cockpit. I can look anywhere.
    The plane starts to move, gliding along the ground as if on a cushion of air. We move faster and faster until slowly the ground begins to slip away. I almost don't notice. It is so subtle, sneaking away stealthily. Soon the earth is far below. I look up at the impressive cloud cover. The sun filters through in a few places, producing beautiful sun rays. We climb gently but steadily. One thousand feet, two thousand feet, three thousand feet.

    Finally we reach the clouds and are immersed in what looks like thick fog. Then, abruptly, we break free of the imprisoning clouds and my breath is stolen. The clouds stretch as far as I can see, most of them white and of impressive shapes. Terrifying dark cumulus nimbus clouds, often referred to as black anvils, are scattered here and there, dominating over the other clouds and seemingly reaching the stars in the sky. I look up at those stars. There are so many of them! Each one shines brightly like an angel, all of them watching over us. Up here the sun is larger, more magnificent. Brilliant rays of light shine in all directions; just like God, bringing life, warmth and light to the earth. Then, the moon. Cold, lifeless, colorless, cruel. Like the devil, it is sitting there, waiting to claim lives forever.

    Then, an amazing sight. Out of nowhere, a meteor shower begins. Like a horde of demons desperate to break through and ensnare souls, the meteors come. Blazing a furious evil red, they appear to be winning. But like Saint Michael and his Arch Angels, the atmosphere repels each and every one of them, burning them up into nothingness.

    During this spectacle the clouds were up to something. Now all of them are black and menacing. The air is warmer, and an occasional flash from below reaches us in our small plane. We are descending rapidly until we reach the clouds. Slipping through a small hole into the world below all of my senses are overwhelmed. As soon as we burst through the cloud layer, we are plunged in a terrifying storm! I can feel the heat. Huge lightning bolts branch out in every direction, lighting up the menacing scene. Tremendous booms follow, rocking the plane. I can hear clearly now because my headset has disappeared. Rain and hail slam into the seemingly frail glass cockpit, but it looks like it will hold. Wind rushes by, howling as if in pain.

    This terrifying scene continues for what seems like eternity. By the end of it I am cowering in my seat, afraid to look, with my fingers in my ears though it is a futile gesture as the noises are too loud. Everything goes blinding white and extremely hot as a lightning bolt passes nearby. I see what looks like a black angel come from the lightning and straight at me. Frozen with fear, I stare into its dark, evil eyes as it passes on its way to Earth.

    The storm stops. The clouds move off, leaving a beautiful clear blue sky. A glorious rainbow arcs majestically across the sky and the sun shines brighter than ever before. Ahead of us is a gorgeous meadow. Descending now, it is clear that the meadow is our destination. As we approach, I can make out a man standing in the center of the meadow. We touch down, and roll to a quick stop. We are still a good while away from the man. The angel and I get out and walk toward the man. The air smells of spring, birds are singing in the forest surrounding this miniature heaven. The colors here are somehow different, more vibrant. Light is emanating from the stranger, and as we draw closer I can see figures dressed in pure white singing and bowing down low to him. Finally we reach him, and stand there for a moment. Then my life flashes by. Everything I did, from the bad to the good. That time I drank underage, the time I almost committed suicide. But, ending on a high note we also saw the time I got married, and the day I became Christian, the day I joined the Air Force. I am puzzled for a moment, wondering why I am seeing this but then it hits me. I remember being stationed in Afghanistan, being shot down and captured. The endless torture, and the failed escape. I remember now the order for my execution, being lined up with other prisoners. And finally, I remember my guardian angel waiting to take me up to Heavens' gate right after the shots are fired. I look at God, and he nods an affirmative.

    With tears in his eyes, but a smile on his face God says, "Welcome home, soldier."

    Sorry it's a Christian piece, but I wanted to submit it.
  9. chief brody

    chief brody New Member

    Nov 7, 2008
    Likes Received:
    The Beautiful South
    Mr & Mrs Peterson (603 words)

    Harold looked into his wife’s dark brown eyes; his tiny featureless reflection peered back at him. He looked away, unable to hold eye contact for too long, he could feel the confusion building up again.

    He shook his head and dragged his hand down his face until he could rub his heavily bearded chin. For a moment as he twisted the coarse hair between his fingers he forgot what had just happened. He made a mental note to shut the shed door later, otherwise the neighbours cat would be in there taking a dump.

    Then, like falling rain, the thoughts began to rush through his mind again. One forced itself to the front of his mind, like a brass band on speed, horns blowing, it marched to the front and played so loud; Harold had to take notice. Why had she lied to him for so long?

    Ann had called him in from the shed 40 minutes ago; the trellis he had been working on would now remain half painted, half made, half arsed!

    Harold had slowly followed his wife into the kitchen, where they had both sat at the table they had shared so many meals on.

    Her perfume still lingered in the air – Harold drew the sweet smell deep into his lungs, he remembered when and where he had purchased the small golden bottle of clear liquid. He allowed himself a brief, broken smile. He still loved Christmas.

    He looked deeply into his wife’s eyes once more, but again, he couldn’t hold his gaze, he looked down at the floor, then over to where they had both been sat 20 minutes ago. The two cups of tea remained on the table, cold and untouched.

    Harold’s tool belt still laid on the floor, where he had dropped it, only the small hammer tucked in its place.

    Ann’s words were not chosen carefully, it didn’t seem so to him. Blunt and to the point and they had fallen from her lips with relative ease – how many times had she practiced in the mirror?

    ‘Harry, I want to separate. I don’t love you anymore’

    Harold’s heart felt as though it was stopping as he digested the two short sentences. He sat for what seemed hours. Ann’s mouth was moving but he could hear nothing.

    His eyes had wondered around the room, He noticed a small chip of paint behind one of the kitchen chairs. He would sort that out later.

    Then; with what voice he could find he took a deep breath and forced out the most inane but most obvious question.

    He already knew the answer.


    ‘You no longer make me happy and you haven’t for s-sometime’ There was a slight stutter in her voice, but no other sign of emotion. She had always been so strong. She was also telling another lie.

    Harold knew this was only partly true; he was aware that their 12 years as husband and wife and been on the decline for several years now. He had just forced the thoughts to the back of his mind with so many others.
    The reason she was leaving him was because for sometime now she had known he was insane.

    He looked once more into is wife’s eyes.

    Harold knew what he had to do. He lent forward kicked the small saw out the way and picked Ann’s head up of the floor. Her eyes had looked much nicer in the sockets he had removed them from 15 minutes ago.

    Getting her head back on her body was a whole other task and where the hell were her teeth?
  10. vangoghsear

    vangoghsear Contributing Member

    Dec 17, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Idiot Lights (approx 1972 words)

    Idiot Lights

    It’s just a tiny dot. Barely an eighth of an inch diameter. A tiny red dot. A sinister little red spot, glowing like an angry red mosquito bite. Festering there, making my eyes itch just watching it blink until some idiot picks up the line. The nasty red dot was a signal that the phone line was on hold when blinking, or in use when steadily red. It was just staring at me now, steadily red like the satanic red glow of a rat’s eye caught in a flash photograph. Glaring at me. Someone here in this dump of an office was blathering on to someone else about who-knows-what. What do people, especially these stupid people, find so d--- interesting to talk on and on about? Huh. I can guess.

    Idiot lights are what they call those little lights on a dashboard that tell you when your oil is low or your brake fluid leaked out in the company parking lot...or somewhere. Yeah, “idiot lights.” Good name for the evil red eyes on the telephone. Just one idiot blatting on to another on the d--- phone...


    I jumped a little at the harsh tone of the voice. It was, Roger, the stupid ass who managed my department. The stupid ass I trained not more than a year ago, when he arrived here fresh from college. The stupid ass who took longer to catch on to how to enter the data then anyone I’ve trained in my twenty-three lousy years of working here. The stupid ass who happened to be the nephew of the owner. “Yeah?”

    “What are you doing?” he asked.

    “Working,” you Idiot.

    “It doesn’t look like you’re working.”

    “I was thinking. Some people think when they work.” You should try it, Butt Wipe.

    “You’re a data monkey. How much intelligent thought does it take to copy data into a computer spreadsheet...?”

    It takes a lot more intelligent thought to do it then to walk around and watch others do it, Ass.

    “Get back to work, Simmons. I’m not going to warn you again.”

    “Oh yes, sir, anything you say, sir... kiss my hairy butt, sir.

    He turned away and headed for his office. An office! He’s here for one lousy year and he has an office. I guess it helps to be related to the owner of the company. Blatant nepotism. The word nepotism came from prestigious positions given to the ‘nephews’ of popes, who were often actually their illegitimate sons. They gave them jobs to keep their mothers quiet. I have another word for it: ‘Nephewisanidiot.’ I heard the door to his office shut. I knew it was just a matter of time before...there it was. The evil red idiot light, staring at me like a tiny incandescent lightbulb dipped in blood. It was him; spouting off to someone, possibly his uncle, on his damned phone in his damned office! Lying to them. Making up stories about what he thinks I’m doing.

    I became aware that my fingernails of my right hand were pressing painfully into my right palm as I clenched my fist. I loosened my grip and saw the red marks there in my palm. My vision blurred, making my whole hand flash in my eyes to a fierce, scarlet red. A rush of heat ran up my neck. I could feel the red rise, the red, like red fire ants niggling and biting their way in under my skin through to my throbbing brain! I had to hold on...I...Then I remembered what I had in my pocket. I felt the object through my pants leg and smiled. The ants went away. It won’t be long. Only two hours and eighteen minutes more. I knew what would happen after that.

    * * *

    The two hours and eighteen minutes dragged with anticipation, I almost felt like it was Christmas morning and I was a child that would soon be unwrapping a present that I have wanted for a year. Now I was sitting in my car in the parking lot. Waiting. Watching the other cars leaving the lot. Their taillights flashing red as they hit their brakes at the exit, then they drive off to their families. Those that still had families. Those whose families haven’t kicked them out because they got passed over time-and-again for a raise or a promotion. Those not sitting in their cars, just waiting.

    * * *

    I remembered this morning, watching the cars as they came in. I had to watch from down the street though because I didn’t want them to see me. I watched their red brake lights as they slowed, turned and entered the parking lot, swung into their spaces and brought their cars to a gentle stop. Except the owner’s nephew, Roger. He always came in late, he always drove too fast, like no one else on the road matters, and squeals that BMW into he lot with a red flash of his brakes being applied at the last possible second. Those f---ing red lights on that shiny new car, reaching out at me, burning, searing into my retinas every time I saw him driving that trophy.

    When everyone else had entered the building, I finally drove quietly into the parking lot. A few minutes later, I walked nonchalantly into the building. Roger was standing by the stock room door with his arms folded, watching me as I clocked in. “Late again, Simmons? What sorry excuse is it this time?”

    “Car trouble,” I said. “See, I still have some dirt and grease on my hands.” I showed the little weasel my hands and sure enough there was grease and dirt there. He accepted the excuse without saying another word. Huh, well it wasn’t entirely untrue. The car I was working on did give me a little trouble; his BMW sits rather low to the ground. I went to wash up.

    * * *

    Now I was watching that BMW, waiting for those red, beady-eyed, brake lights to come to life, and glare at me. Finally, he came out and started to get in his car. Then he saw me sitting in mine and he walked across the parking lot towards me.

    He tapped on the window and I lowered it. “Why are you still here?” He looked in my car, a ten year old Chevy Malibu, and saw that I had a lot of my stuff in the back from where my wife had kicked me out. “You living in this thing?”

    “No. I’m staying at a friend’s place for a few days. I just keep some things in here.” It had already been a month.

    “Get this this hunk of crap going. It does work doesn’t it?”

    “It’s fine. I was just making a call on my cell. I don’t like to drive when I’m talking on the phone.”

    “Yeah, wouldn’t want to wreck your beat-up Malibu. Heck, doesn’t bother me any – talking on the phone and driving. Even in my beamer.”

    Doesn’t surprise me one d--- bit. He doesn’t care about anyone, but himself.

    He turned around and walked back towards his own car, then he turned back. “That’s one of your problems, Simmons. You’re too old. You can’t do more than one thing at a time, you’re too easily distracted.”

    I won’t be distracted tonight. I want to see this.

    He punched a button on his key fob and the red lights flashed. A rush of adrenalin hit me and I felt like a race car driver avoiding a formula one car flipping through the air right in my path! My eyesight lost focus and the red lights swelled to fill my entire field of vision. He passed silhouetted through their ghastly flaming glow like a demon entering hell. Soon, I thought. I gripped my wheel and turned my key.

    * * *

    He drove fast. I knew it would be hard to keep up. We exceeded ninety miles-per-hour a couple of times. He rarely touched his brakes, bobbing and weaving dangerously through traffic.

    Bastard’s a menace, I thought. But not for long.

    Soon he will come to the hairpin bend on 295, where he would need his brakes or he’ll slam into the overpass supports, but his brakes won’t be there for him, the fluid would have leaked out of the cylinders from the fittings I loosened this morning with this wrench in my pocket. The red lights will start flashing wildly, that's what I want to see; the panic, as he pumps furiously to no avail! There won’t be enough brake fluid left to stop him and he’ll hit the supports!

    We reached the bend, my heart started racing as I anticipated the scarlet flare of his futile brakes. There it was...! He slowed and went on. It never even fazed him! The evil red eyes of his brake lights faded, closed, and he sped on down the road.

    Damn! The f----ing SOB can’t even die right!

    “Arghhh!” I pounded the steering wheel with both hands! The car filled completely with red; angry flashing red. Steadily flashing red...and blue. Red and blue flashing lights. I looked in my rear view window and a police cruiser pulled behind me.

    F---! I quickly pulled my self together and searched for my license and other documents. I put down my window. “Yes officer?” I said in the most pleasant tone I could muster.

    “Good evening sir. License and registration.”

    My hands were still shaking as I handed him the documents.

    “Do you know why I stopped you?”

    “I’m sorry officer. I believe I was speeding.”

    “Wait here. I’ll be back.” He walked back to his cruiser.

    G------ed bastard sails on out of here and I get stopped by a cop! He races like this every night! He was supposed to lose his brakes and die! Die! Die! But no! He drives on and I get stopped by a f--- ing cop! I couldn’t stand it. Furiously, I took out my cell phone and pressed the call list. Every press of the button was highlighted by a flash of red light from the cruiser. My fury burned inside me, searing through my hands and cursing up my neck like a numbing wash of hot oil. I finally came to Roger’s cell phone number, I hit the button. Sure enough. It was busy. F---!

    “Sir, tonight is your lucky night.” the policeman had reappeared at my window and I turned, startled by his voice. Fortunately, with the cruiser lights flashing red, he couldn’t see the angry flush of rouge in my color. “I have to respond to an accident with a fatality up ahead...

    ...Fatality? I was suddenly aware that the cruiser’s cool blue strobe lights surrounded me like a breeze. My face cooled now in the open window. I am letting you off with a warning.” He handed my documents back to me. I reached up with an amazing steady hand and took them. “Keep your speed down to the posted limits. Don’t become just another statistic like the guy in the accident up ahead. Tonight is your lucky night, it’s certainly not his.”

    “I’ll be more careful, Officer. Thank you.”

    He walked back to his cruiser, turned on his siren and sped off around me leaving me watching the rosy blink of his light bar, disappear around the bend. I basked in the flashing warmth like a man sitting on a dock watching the sun set on a harbor as the fishing boats cruise gently in to make port.

    Maybe I should take a vacation. Yeah. I could do some fishing. Let go of some this stress.

    The End
  11. Eclipsed

    Eclipsed New Member

    Nov 12, 2008
    Likes Received:
    Tamed (2,955)

    The black Range Rover swerved in and out of lanes behind the little red Jetta on the one-oh-one. Traffic was really moving for a Friday night. Josie’s ice-blue eyes flicked back and forth between the road and her rear-view mirror. The Range Rover was coming up on her with familiar stealth.

    Alright, let’s play then, baby, she could hear him say in his husky voice.

    Josie pressed on the gas and swerved into the right lane, eliciting a honk and a finger from the car behind her. She had to grip the wheel tightly between her sweaty palms to keep it from slipping. If her heart would stop punching against the inside of her chest, maybe she could think clearly.

    Come on, come on…

    She almost slammed into the car she was tailgating while transfixed by the rear-view mirror. Only by swerving at the last minute was she lucky enough to miss it and catch a clear spot in the flow of traffic in the left lane. More honking.

    Her phone had been ringing continuously in the back seat where she’d thrown it 10 minutes ago. 15 missed calls. It flashed the new name she’d programmed his number under: “PSYCHO!”

    When she made it to a straightaway, she booked it. Each car she passed was another obstacle put behind her. She tried not to think about the fact that it was the challenge that got him off. She knew better. Maybe she should pull over right here on the freeway and try to reason with him. But he’d been leading her to believe he was beyond reasoning at this point. If madness was driving his car, then reason wasn’t even in the backseat. He could probably only hear its muffled screams from the trunk.

    The next exit was coming up in half a mile. If she took the streets, she risked hitting red lights along the way and getting caught. But, there was a better chance of hiding out in a side street on the main roads. She debated whether or not to get off the entire half mile, only deciding at the last second when she checked her rear view and saw the coast was clear. She exited the freeway and coasted along the off-ramp. Completely alone, she came to a stop at the red light. She drummed her fingers on the wheel. It stayed red for so long, she started to think it was broken. Her heart sank and she could feel the steering wheel dissolve from beneath her fingers as they went numb. The Range Rover was right back behind her again. She drew in a deep breath when it screeched to a halt just behind her bumper. How stupid had she been to think she could elude a cop on the freeway, even if he wasn’t in his cruiser? She could only make out his silhouette through the darkly tinted windows.

    She checked back to light, still red.

    Come on. Comeoncomeoncomeoncomeon….

    When she looked back again, his door was opening. Mike stepped out, his beefed-up frame clad in his usual off-duty uniform: black t-shirt, jeans, and a baseball cap.

    “F-ck!” she cursed, locking all four doors with one click.

    No other cars were around besides those speeding through the intersection perpendicular to them. There would be no witnesses. No one to wonder what the hell was going on when he smashed through her window and pulled her out of the car kicking and screaming, covered in blood and shards of glass.

    He yanked on her door handle. Locked.

    Josie! Open the door!” he yelled, banging on the window with an angry clenched fist. She tried to look away from him, staring straight ahead, willing the light to change, or -she swore to God, if he broke the window, she would run it.

    Look at me!

    She steadied her foot on the break and kept her eyes fixed forward. Refusing to look into those wide, desperate eyes. Why couldn’t he just let go? She knew things were over a few months before she tried to break it off. He’d sensed that it was ending, too, and became more possessive and demanding. The more she tried to let go, the tighter he clung.

    In a final act of desperation, he proposed. That’s when she knew she had to be clear. Perhaps she’d told him a bit too clearly that she was just bored and it was over. Josie had been deceived by his full-sleeve tattoos and gym-rat muscles. She remembered the first time she saw him in his uniform. Taking him by the waistband, she’d tried to coax him into the back of his cruiser for a quickie. His polite but firm refusal was the first sign to Josie that his wild days were behind him. Damn that bitch for taming him before I got my turn, she remembered thinking. I didn't buy a ticket to the amusement park to ride the merry-go-round.

    She thought he’d taken it rather well. But that was before she noticed she was being following around campus. Her stomach would lurch every time she saw a cop car. One day, Mike cornered her on campus when she was alone:

    “I just want to show you something!” he begged. She flinched as he undid his belt buckle and hitched down his pants and boxers. He pulled off a white patch of gauze taped to the skin of his right thigh, just beneath a nautical star tattoo. There it was, Mike’s new tat. Fresh, red, and shiny with ointment. She peered down, momentarily relieved and morbidly curious. There was the black outline of a stylized cat with the tail curved down into a “J” followed by “osie” in cursive.

    “Because you’re my pussycat,” he said sweetly, “do you like it?...See, and its right here where only you can see it. No one else. It’s just for you.”

    He trailed a rough hand along her cheek.

    The memory made her shudder like the glass beneath Mike’s fist.

    After what felt like a lifetime, the light finally turned green. Josie sped off. The few seconds she gained while he was scrambling back to his car were lost. He was right behind her, tailing so closely she couldn’t see his headlights.

    Psychos may be closer than they appear, she thought, and wondered if she’d always been within touching distance of such irrationality, if everyone was…

    The blood prickled in her veins as another thought occurred to her… Maybe she wasn’t the first one to see this side of him, maybe there’d been other girls. As clichéd as it was, a crooked cop would have the resources and knowledge to pull stuff like that off.

    Realizing she didn’t have a plan, and that he couldn’t get her as long as she kept driving, she slowed down and tried to collect her thoughts. She couldn’t keep this up all night. She couldn’t out-drive him in terms of skill or distance. Maybe on a full tank, but she always waited until her tank was on ‘E’ before filling it up. Mike had scolded her many times about this bad habit. Even if she had the gas, she’d only been living in the city for her freshman year and never ventured beyond the five-mile radius around campus. Besides, she had nowhere to go that Mike didn’t know about. He’d probably memorized every detail about her. Things cops are trained to look for, collecting details out of habit, without even realizing they're doing it.

    This was his city. It was inevitable that he would catch her. The only question was: where did she want to get caught?

    She flipped a u-turn and headed back downtown, leading him on an OJ-style chase the rest of the way. Obeying all posted speed limits and driving cautiously. He hung back now, giving her space.

    Soon enough, she was in front of a bungalow in an old neighborhood near campus. The narrow street was lined with sloppily parked cars on both sides. Loud music was pumping from inside and the party had spilled out onto the front lawn. Since there was nowhere close to park, she threw on the brake right in front of the driveway, blocking cars in.

    She jumped out of the car, leaving her purse and phone inside, and cut across the sun-scorched lawn.

    Hope you’ll forgive me for bringing a cop, J, she thought.

    “Josie!” a girl called out from a faded couch on the front porch. It was her friend, Bri, sitting on some random guy’s lap. She called out her name again with drunken enthusiasm, and then slurred, “Get that bitch over here! Jooooooosieeeeee…”

    Ignoring Bri, she squeezed past the crowd at the front door.

    “Josie!” someone yelled and grabbed her arm. Her fist clenched reflexively as she turned. It was just her friend and party host, Jason. He was struggling to keep his drink level as he moved next to her, yelling to be heard over the music, “What’s up, baby!...Oh sh-t, your boyfriend isn’t around, is he?!”

    “We broke up!” she glanced back at the front door, “I’ll be right back!”

    She made her way past the kitchen and headed towards the hallway, ducking beneath pieces of yellow caution tape that had been strung up to keep the party contained to the public areas of the house.

    She checked the doors, only the last bedroom had been left open. Her eyes struggled to adjust to the darkness. With the only light coming from the kitchen at the far end of the hallway, she felt her way blindly through the room, tripping over a pile of laundry as she made her way to the window.

    She felt for the latch. The new plan was to escape out the back. While he was stuck searching for her in the mass of people, she would sneak back to her car. It was only a temporary escape, but it would buy her enough time to figure things out. Maybe she would call her parents, tell them everything and ask if she could borrow enough money to buy a plane ticket back home. She knew they’d insist on paying and that she take the next flight available. She just hoped they’d understand why they couldn't call the police. For now, she was going to call the guy from English Lit she’d been talking to for a few weeks. She had a feeling he’d be more than happy to let her crash at his place for the night.

    She flung the window open and started pushing out the screen when the room suddenly darkened. She gasped and watched as he stormed in, blocking out the light in the doorway and slamming the door behind him. She heard it lock and the sound of junk being knocked over as he came towards her. She tried to scream but he grabbed her face and pulled her head into his chest so hard she thought he might snap her neck. If he’d actually been trying, she knew it would be lights out. He slammed the window shut, and they both listened to the muffled sounds of music and shouting. His breath pulsed against her auburn hair. She stood frozen in shock, and could only hope someone heard her scream. For a minute they stood locked together, listening to each other breathe. It was like a tense, vertical version of the cuddling they’d done so many nights in her apartment. She used to nestle right there in his chest and listen to the sound of his heart beating, running her fingers absentmindedly over his abs.

    It was apparent nobody was coming to investigate.

    “Are you gonna do something stupid, Jos?”

    She shook her head.

    The closet doors rattled as he pushed her back against them.

    “How’s this for excitement, huh?” he hissed in her ear.

    “Please, Mike…”

    “Why don’t you answer my phone calls anymore?” he asked, pinning her arms back.

    “Mike…” she pleaded, giving up any hope of finding the right words that would persuade him to let her go.

    Her wrists felt so fragile in his huge hands, like he could crush the bones into confetti. Against her better judgment, she tried to wriggle free.

    “Why are you doing this to me?” he growled, pushing the hard length of his body against hers. A whimper escaped her lips.

    “I’m going to scream,” she threatened.

    “No, you’re not. You know better than that,” he said. And then his hard face began to change. He looked sad.

    “I just wanted to be with you, Josie. Why did you have to make it so hard? I’m sick of these games. Why were you running away from me?”

    “Because I’m scared of you, y-you’re not the same person anymore.”

    “But I thought you didn’t like the person I was anymore… Was I ever even a person to you at all? Or just another one of your play-things? You’re a spoiled little bitch, you know that?” he said.

    His hot breath stuck to her neck, making her cringe.

    “Mike, I’m sorry. Please let me go! You’re acting crazy!” she struggled again, feeling like she was going to suffocate.

    “Josie, stop it!” he roared and squeezed her wrists tighter, making her cry out, “Yes, Josie, sometimes I feel like I’m going crazy, because I pour my f-cking heart out and you treat me like sh-t! I left Dana for you! Do you understand? She’s taking my kids, Jos! And I gave that up because you. Promised. Me.”

    She could feel the blood pooling in her hands, making her squirm.

    Oblivious, Mike continued, “I can’t help it, I still love you. There’s nothing I can do about it. Believe me, I’ve tried. I really tried to let you go. I know I’ve made some mistakes and I will make some more, but I’m going to fix it.”

    His large brown eyes glistened in the dim light coming through the window.
    “Here, let me show you something…I’m going to let you go, and you’re not gonna try and run, ok?”

    She nodded.

    He backed off and let her go slowly, staring her in the eye.

    She got the feeling of déjà vu as he lowered his pants enough to reveal his patched-up right hip where ‘her’ tattoo was. She could see the gauze had been soaked through with blood. He peeled it back gingerly. She had to squint in the darkness to make out what had become of the tattoo, the skin looked dark and wet, but she couldn’t see the tattoo anymore. She reeled back when she realized why it was missing; she was staring into an exposed sinewy, red, pulp of muscle the size of a deck of cards. She gasped and his hand shot up to her mouth again.

    Hey! Open the door! No one better be having sex on my bed!

    The door handle jigged, followed by a fist pounding.

    Mike whispered into her ear through clenched teeth, “You better keep your f-cking mouth shut if you want to keep your friends out of this.”

    Chris burst through the door.

    “What the hell?!” he yelled, struggling to see in the darkness, “Who is that?”

    “It’s Mike and Josie,” Mike answered.

    “Oh…What are you guys doing?” Chris realized Mike was zipping up his pants, and looked away quickly, “Never mind, I don’t want to know. Just finish it up somewhere else, ok?”

    Mike escorted Josie out of the room. As he led her through the mass of people, she searched the distant faces, hoping someone would see the desperation in her eyes.

    “Hey, you guys!” another friend greeted them as they walked by. She tried to force a smile, remembering his warning.

    “Sorry, we can’t hang out,” Mike explained for Josie as he pulled her through the crowd.

    Mike held Josie closely as they made their way out the door. They passed one of her friends who commented that they were “too cute together.”

    Once outside, Mike dragged her across the lawn by her arm.

    She tried to pull away, “What are you doing?!”

    “Get in,” he pushed her into the back seat and climbed in behind her.

    The car had been left idling with the radio on.

    “So, you do just want to talk to me?”

    “No. It’s too late for that now,” but he continued on, “I’m not the crazy one, Josie. I’ll never understand you women. I was willing to give up my entire life for you. My wife, my kids…I made some big mistakes, ok? But, I’m going to fix it. I’m going to make things right tonight.”

    With her eyes still fixed on him, waiting for the pounce, she groped for the door handle.

    “Child-proof locks,” he said. He looked away from her for the first time. He held his head tightly, as if it were splitting in two.

    “For my little ones. I just love them so much…And Dana. I’m so sorry, honey.”

    “Your words mean nothing to me anymore, Mike,” a woman replied from the front seat. Josie jumped. Mike cringed at these words more than he had at the gaping wound in his hip.

    She’d been so focused on Mike that she hadn’t even noticed the woman in the driver's seat, who was now steering them calmly away from the house.

    “Now you’ve got your chance to prove how sorry you really are.”

    “Then can I come home, baby?” he asked.

    She paused for a moment, “yes.”

    “I promise I'll prove to you how very sorry I am, Dana,” he sounded as resolved as an alcoholic stepping back on the wagon. He spoke to his wife, but turned back to look at Josie.

    “I’m so very sorry.”
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