1. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Mar 3, 2013
    Likes Received:
    Ralph's side of the island.

    Past Contest Submissions closed for contest #180, theme: "dead air"

    Discussion in 'Monthly Short Story Contest Archives' started by GingerCoffee, Sep 26, 2015.

    Short Story Contest # 180
    Submissions & Details Thread
    Theme: "Dead Air" courtesy of @Spencer Rose

    Submissions will be open for ~2 more weeks.


    To enter the contest, post the story here in this thread. It will show up as an anonymous author.

    The contest is open to all writingforums.org members, newbies and the established alike. At the deadline I will link to this thread from the voting thread. The winning entry will be stickied until the next competition winner. As always, the winner may PM me to request the theme of the subsequent contest if he/she wishes.

    Entries do not have to follow the themes explicitly, but off-topic entries may not be entered into the voting.

    Word limit: 500-3000 words
    Deadline for entries: Sunday the 11th of Oct, 2015 1600 (4:00 pm) US Pacific time.

    There is a 10% word-limit leniency at both ends of the scale. Please try to stick within the limit. Any piece outside of the suggested limit may not be entered into the voting.

    If we reach 20 entries, the maximum number of stories for any one contest, I will consider splitting the contest into two. Only one entry per contest per contestant is permitted.

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

    A story entered into the contest may not be one that has been posted anywhere** on the internet, not just anywhere on this site. A story may not be posted for review until the contest ends, but authors may seek critiques after voting closes for the contest. Members may also not repost a story anywhere, or bring attention to the contest in any way, until the voting has closed.
    (**We tried one that had been posted for critique before entering but it defeated the anonymity so I've gone back to no stories perviously posted here in the forum.)

    PLEASE use this title format for all stories: Title bolded [word count in brackets]

    If there are any questions, please send me a PM (Conversation).

    After the voting ends, posting in the thread will re-open for comments.

    ***And thanks to even more long hours put in by our very special mod/member @Wreybies, winners are now awarded with olympic style medals displayed under their avatars.

    Be sure to preview your entry before you hit 'reply'.
    Check italics and bolding as sometimes the end code for bold or italics doesn't copy/paste affecting large stretches of text.
    If you need to fix the formatting, hit 'control a' to 'select all' and clear all bold and italics code. Then re-add it back in using the board's font controls before you hit 'post reply'. Watch those extra line spaces. PLEASE delete them directly from the post before hitting 'post reply'.

    The point of consistent titles and line spacing is to avoid having those things influence votes, sometimes for worse.

    Thanks, and good luck!
  2. sensen

    sensen New Member

    Oct 20, 2010
    Likes Received:
    Filth (1027 words)

    She had been staring at it for over one hour, but not because she was afraid. She simply wondered if this was the best way to go.

    It was one p.m. The neighbours next door were cooking something disgusting: dried fish. She saw a tray of fish fillets on their balcony, gleaming under the sun. It sat there for a week, a pile of rotten meat and flesh, infested with flies. They were frying them now, sizzling dead meat in hot oil, adding crushed garlic to cover up the stink but only making it worse.

    The she of six months ago would have written a letter to the council demanding them do something about such neighbours. They wanted to live in her country yet refused to adapt to the new environment, to uphold the standard set within a first world country. Let one thing slide and many more would follow, and soon this place would be no different to any of those countries where children's heads are bigger than their bodies.

    The she of today felt she had no rights to complain about anything.

    The she of today would eat foul dead fish everyday if only it helped her forget.

    The stench had found its way into her flat, and there it became stronger, as if a sewage had broken out and she were standing right in the middle of the stream of shit and slimy wastes. She sucked in some air, not bothered with opening the door and window. Sweat trickled down her temples. It was thirty seven degrees today. The weather woman, the one with breasts peaking out from her plunging neckline and arse bigger than Cyclone Yasi, said so last night. She used to have breasts and arse like that, pounds of meat and flesh underneath tight fabric that made men stare and women envy. It was frightening how much weight and curves she had lost after six months. She used to take great care and make even greater use of her assets. There was nothing more ecstatic than watching a man climax, succumbing to the commands of her body. She would grab a chunk of his hair with one hand and twist, and the inner of his thigh with the other until he screamed and collapsed onto her. She liked the thought of her being the one in control, of her allowing it to happen. It had been an escape, temporary as it always was, from the memory of her friend's father pinning her down on the basement floor.

    She was ten, and it had been twenty years, yet she still remembered his minty breath on her face and the perfume on his shirt.

    Garlic to help disguise rotten fish.

    Where she was going there would be no need for escape, whether from the past, taxman, or filthy air. Where she was going, there might be fire, eternal flame engulfing and burning her over and over again. She hoped it would. She could smell the roast of her skin already.

    She studied the rope one last time before looping it around her neck. The last man nearly choked her to death. Bruce, a coworker, a big gun, family man, beautiful wife cute kids and all that shit. Shit means shit. He came to her house on a Saturday morning. His wife took their kids to see her parents. He told her he wanted to utilise the day and strip the old paint off the doors and coat them with a better colour.

    He was stripping things off all right.

    'Go play in the backyard, sweetheart,' she told Lily, who was three at the time, shoving a pack of chocolate cookies into her chubby hands. The back door barely closed on the little girl and his hands were already up her skirt, ripping her panties off. He slammed her against the wall, the kitchen bench, the sink, his mouth all over her breasts and her face. He reeked of cigarette smoke. He dragged her to the lounge room, his arm hooked around her neck, locking it in. Pictures of her husband and daughter and herself smiled down at them from the walls. Trusting, wonderful, average James, he was away on a business trip. Just my body, James, my heart belongs to you. She closed her eyes and felt her knees and palms burn against the carpet. Bruce closed his fingers around her throat, digging, squeezing. She choked and gagged, but she wanted him to squeeze even harder. He was making that noise, half grunting half growling, and calling her a fucking whore and telling her he was going to tear her apart and shove things in her mouth, a lot of unintelligent stuff for such a well respected man, his hand slapping and pinching and groping. She was getting warmer and warmer; it was going to end with a bang for both of them any second now. And then she would take Lily to the ice cream van; she had been hearing it jangling down the street for the last five minutes or so. Her little girl was probably hopping from one foot to another and peeping through the gaps in the gate, ears pricked up at the jingle. Strawberry ice cream with sprinkles for daughter, lemon sorbet for mum. Hang on, sweetheart, mummy's coming.

    And then came those sounds.

    Tyres screeched.

    People screamed.

    Little bones crushed.

    Bruce roared on top of her.

    She had not stopped hearing those sounds for the last six months.

    James asked for a divorce. She had moved out of his house and into a rat hole where neighbours hung their washings along the balcony and ate things that smelled like death.

    She had not stopped seeing Lily wondering around the backyard nibbling on cookies and picking dandelions, patiently waiting for mum.

    The loop nice and tight around her neck, she peered down at the plastic stool on which she was standing.

    It was the same plastic stool which Lily used to stand on and undo the latch on the back gate.

    She took in one last breath of dead air, and stepped towards her little girl.
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2015
  3. bumble bee

    bumble bee Member

    May 30, 2015
    Likes Received:
    Flight (word count: 1457)

    The old man had always had birds. They were undoubtedly his birds, not his wife’s, nor his children’s when they’d still been at home. He had never been interested in the softness of cats or loyalty of dogs. Pets weren't about affection for him; he wasn't that sort of man. The comfort they offered was in the acquisition of expertise. He liked knowing the best position for the aviary and the right mix of feed, when to foster the eggs out to a different hen and which birds to pair up for successful breeding. He liked the sense of achievement when he solved the difficult challenges. He still remembered the way he felt when he had three eggs hatch all from one brood, and there was no look in the birds’ eyes about why you didn't succeed with the fourth. She was busy enough with three and would knock the faulty egg from the nest, not even watching where it fell. Of course, he cleaned it up straight away. He prided himself on keeping the aviary spotless.

    The aviary had always been his place. When he was younger and still working, that was where he spent his weekends. He knew he had been the subject of some humour, even tension, and that his family sat inside comparing his inadequacies and mocking the gravity with which he regarded salt deficiency and laying times. As the years passed, his children receded further, to their own rooms and then to their own houses. Their mother became as unnecessary to them as he had been years before and he knew it hurt her. But that’s the way of things. You can’t stop kids growing up. He didn't exalt that she’d joined him in exile and she made no move to share his interest. She had kept on tending the house and he had kept on tending his birds.

    Retirement became full of feathers feeding schedules and meetings with other fanciers. He had been worried -- terrified really -- of what he would do without work, how he would manage when his world shrank to his home and the two people left in it. He was surprised to find the deep sense of contentment that governing his own time brought. Unregulated by external demands he made his own strict schedule and it satisfied him.

    The world of birds wasn't always predictable and ordered -- one year he watched seven sicken and die and never quite got to the bottom of what had happened. Still, there were books to turn to for advice and a chance to try again. In recent years, he even learnt to use the Internet and his granddaughter liked having a computer when she came to visit. He knew enough to find her some games and cartoons to watch. She would grin up at him and that seemed enough for both of them. His wife and daughter looked on with something akin to disapproval but he always thought kids were a bit like birds: if they're fed, clean and have a bit of entertainment, they’re happy enough.

    When he got sick, it was his birds he thought of first. He wondered if he would be well enough to carry on caring for them. If not, to whom should he trust the job? His choices seem to be either to invite fellow experts into his home, his intimate space and the weakness of his illness or to trust his family with the complex care of creatures they had never shown an interest in. Neither option felt right.

    He went to appointment after appointment to hear news given out with great globs of hope, then more cautious slices and finally no hope at all- it had been replaced by empty platitudes. His wife was calm and shed no tears and he was grateful. He had so little energy now and he wouldn’t know how to comfort her -- wasn't a man excused that burden under the circumstances? Still, the glaring omission of her grief made him wonder if he had misunderstood: had his mind wandered during some vital sentence of the doctor’s explanation? He no longer trusted his perception of the world.

    In any case, the birds had to be dealt with, and properly. He didn't want to go into some incompetent who had bought them on a whim, or even worse released from their cages in some idiotic belief that they could make a new life for themselves in the wild. He contacted reputable breeders, people he knew and respected. You might even call them friends as they all expressed their condolences and some seemed genuinely sad. It bought him a sense of peace to try and match the bird to its new owner and he insisted on exactly the right way to transport them. When the last one had gone and the aviary stood empty, his daughter offered to clean it, while he watched and directed to be sure she was getting it right, and he knew from this concession that he must be dying after all.


    He was filled with morphine. Above his bed, he could see birds flying.

    "They're looking out for me now, you know. Back then, first ones I got... I wondered why they wouldn't lay. Makes me laugh- I didn't have a clue in at first! Yes, yes I've learnt a lot. Flocks of them in here."

    A gentle hand rearranged his clothes and it took a minute to him to register whether it was his wife or the nurse. He was always surrounded by women these days. It was a strange state of affairs to him; he’d always been more in the company of men.

    What a stunner she had been, the first time he'd seen her in the blue dress that showed off the soft curve of her neck and her dark hair. She'd made it herself. That's what he'd wanted in a wife- both pretty and practical. A good match for him. Oh but he’d impressed her- you could see it in her eyes. He had a bit more cash than those other fellows. He saved up for a good suit for a night out, working out how much he needed to save and how long it would take, not wasting it on drinks and cigarettes every pay day. Like he’d saved up for the right birds, good breeding stock -- it was worth it in the end. He hadn’t rushed out and bought them and taken the money from the household budget. He had made sure her and the kids always had enough for their needs, the house was warm and clean and there was always food on the table and enough for a new wardrobe every season. He had been a good husband and a good father by his own lights if no one else's.

    "Have you fed the birds today?"

    “They’re all gone now.”

    “Yes, that's right. I remember. Stan Collins in Cardiff is to have that hen with the stippled markings on its wing. She's a good breeder and goodness knows he needs them.”

    "We did it already. We did it was weeks ago. They’ve all gone.”

    “Good, good that’s alright then.”

    He looked her full in the face and was surprised how old she looked, how much she’d changed. In his head she was still 19 years old. She still had those gorgeous green eyes.

    "Was that you or the nurse earlier?"

    Women everywhere. It was a pity the girl took after him so much in looks, but she had to have something of her father. So bright they were -- both kids -- always top of the class, good grades and prizes, top of the class as often as not. They must have got that bit from their mother; he'd never done much in school. Yes she was a good woman: pretty, practical and smart too.

    "What was that trophy our Ellen won? For spelling or something- big silver one with wings instead of handles"

    "She never won a trophy, John."

    "Yes, yes huge it was. I remember her carrying it up the road -- nearly as big as she was!"

    He tried to laugh but it turned into a hacking cough up that tired him out and when he looked she was crying. He hadn’t meant to make her sad. He turned his head to watch the birds perched on the picture rail instead.

    Women came and went, and it was too tiring to talk to them. One day he woke briefly and saw her sitting there, her eyes still green, still a looker after all these years. She’d put a bunch of feathers in the glass by his bed and he reached for them with a smile.
  4. Fernando.C

    Fernando.C Contributor Contributor

    Jul 26, 2015
    Likes Received:
    Floating in the Cosmere.
    The Cylinders [2798 words]

    The smell of blood hung heavy in the air. To Detective Kyle Nox it felt tangible, like a coat of dust covering his skin. His eyes traveled from spot to spot, surveying the room.

    The crime scene looked like the climax of a horror movie, making it difficult to believe that up until an hour ago the popular talk show Evening Chat was taped here. Splatters of blood, bits of flesh and brain matter were the latest decorations for the studio. The set was a wreck; cameras and other equipment lay in pieces, a teleprompter was broken in half. Monitors were shattered, shards of their glass scattered all over the floor.

    Kyle picked his way towards the raised platform in the center of which the news desk stood. All around him the bodies of the TV crew lay bloodied and broken. The hosts were the worst. Sitting on their chairs behind the huge glass-topped desk, unmoving. Dead eyes staring into cameras that were no longer there. Their show was over.

    The female host, Angela Van Rothem, had deep claw-shaped scars all over her face, neck, hands and torso. Blood soaked her features and the front of her shirt. Her co-host, Jared Nantz, was in no better shape; his head had been cut clean from neck but for a thin thread of flesh and he was missing an eye.

    As Kyle was examining the bodies of the two dead hosts, something caught his eyes. He crouched down and looked under the giant desk. A small cylindrical object lay on the floor. Reaching a gloved hand Kyle picked it up. It looked to be made of brass and was no more than ten inches in length and half an inch both in width and diameter. He turned the cylinder around in his hand, it was plain and had a smooth surface; there were no markings on it. It was cold to the touch.

    A sinking feeling of familiarity came over Kyle. He…remembered an object much like this one from some years ago. The memory wasn’t pleasant.

    He brought an evidence bag out of his pants pocket, put the cylinder object in it, then hid the object in his shirt and zipped his jacket shut.

    His team was almost finished; evidence was collected, bodies were put into body bags and were being carried away, the two hosts were the last. Their chairs were empty now, the blood left behind was the only sign of the people who once occupied them. Kyle stared at the chair, unable to look away. Twenty five people…twenty five people were dead. Slaughtered like sheep at the hands of a wolf. Only this particular ‘wolf’ was far crueller than any true animal.

    These people had been murdered on live TV, in front of fourteen million witnesses. Sure the cameras had been shattered two minute into the bloody frenzy, sparing the viewers the most gruesome parts of it and leaving them with thirty minutes of dead air. Still it took a brash, unstable person to do such a thing. Someone possibly insane. This did not fit the profile of Dr. Valerie Carlisle, famed archaeologist and head of the local history museum, who was a guest on the show this evening and the perpetrator of this massacre.

    Kyle left the studio and made his way through the several coroner vans and police cars, to his own car across the parking lot.

    His phone rang. It was one of his colleagues, Sergeant Green, calling to give Kyle an update on the interviews with Dr. Carlisle’s co-workers and family.

    Everyone said the same thing, Dr. Carlisle was a kind-hearted and charitable person, well-liked by everyone who knew her and the last person one would ever suspect of even the smallest crime.

    And yet she ends up committing one of the most violent crimes in the history of the city, thought Kyle after hanging up. It shouldn’t have been possible for a middle-aged and unarmed woman to single-handedly kill twenty-five people.

    Yet, Kyle had an idea how it could have happened, one he hated.

    Shaking his head he got in his car and started the engine. He needed to check the cylinder out, see if his theory was correct before deciding on a course of action. He didn’t have much time; Carlisle was missing, she had fled the scene on foot, according to the footage from the security cameras outside the studio, and had so far neither visited nor contacted any friends or family members.

    We need to get to her before she kills anyone else, thought Kyle, but first, I need an aspirin.

    Fortunately he had a newly-purchased and unopened bottle of aspirin in the glove compartment. He grabbed the bottle, fished out a pill, downed it and proceeded to wash it down with soda. He had a feeling he would be out of aspirins before this damned case was over.

    He was halfway to the station when the radio call came. Sir we found her.

    Well, then, the cylinder had to wait.


    “Is the perimeter secured?” Kyle asked Sergeant Green who was already at the scene with his men when Kyle arrived.

    “Yes, sir. My men have covered every single exit of the building”

    “Good” Kyle said approvingly. He liked Sergeant Green, the man was efficient and smart. “Is anyone in the building? Other than Dr. Carlisle”

    “Only the two night guards who are working with my men right now”.

    Thank god the museum’s closed, thought Kyle. He did not want to think about what would have happened if it was in the middle of the day and the museum full of visitors.

    “Alright then” he told the sergeant, “time to finish this”

    Kyle asked for five men to accompany him including Sergeant Green. The sergeant insisted that they bring more men with them, pointing out that they were going after a women who had murdered twenty five people all by herself. Kyle disagreed, reasoning that five armed and trained police officers were enough to handle a middle-aged woman. He was lying, of course. He just wanted to keep most of the men away from the doctor.

    The sergeant didn’t argue any further and followed Kyle into the Science Museum

    Inside there were three doors; two led to separate exhibitions and one to the labs and offices. Kyle and one of the officers took the last door while the while Sergeant Green and the three remaining officers split the two exhibitions between themselves.

    It seemed odd to Kyle that Dr. Carlisle had opted to return to her workplace knowing full well that the entire police force of the city was after her. She’s basically giving herself up, it doesn’t make any sense, he thought.

    The administrative part of the museum was a wide and rather long corridor with several doors on either side, most were the offices of the scientists who worked at the museum, and there were also three labs at the end of the corridor.

    One of them was open. Weapons ready, Kyle and his accompanying officer approached the lab, careful to make as little noise as possible. They reached the doorway and Kyle peered into the room. It was a mess; glass vials and bottles lay broken on the floor, tables were overturned, a big glass cabinet had its doors unhinged and its shelves pulled out. Dr. Carlisle herself was across the room rummaging through a desk, pulling out its drawers.

    “It’s not here” she was saying to herself in a low, guttural voice, “It’s not here…not here…”.

    Kyle’s stomach turned at the sight of her, she was in a horrible state. Her hair was falling and she was half bald already, her nails had turned black and grown sharp and claw-like. Her torso and face were covered with dried blood.

    I was right it seems, thought Kyle with dread.

    Motioning for the officer to stay at the door in case the Carlisle tried to escape, Kyle stepped into the room. Immediately the doctor looked up; red, inhuman eyes fixated at him. Kyle remained calm. For a second nothing happened, detective and disgruntled scientist engaging in a silent duel of stares. Then in a voice that sounded more like the growling of a predatory animal than a human tone, the doctor said,

    “It’s not here”

    “What’s not here?”

    She didn’t answer instantly. Kyle cursed himself for his curiosity, he knew he had to shoot her, there was no other way. Why then was he hesitating?

    Damn it Kyle! You haven’t really learned anything, have you? Even with all that you’ve seen, all that you’ve lost, you’re still a naïve fool.

    “The cylinder” Dr. Carlisle finally said.

    “I have the cylinder, it’s in my car”.

    “No!” she said, her voice rising, “No…another one”.

    “There’s another one?” Kyle paled.

    She nodded, “They… took it”

    Kyle noticed that it was getting harder for her to speak. She’s losing whatever humanity she has left, he thought.

    “Who?” he asked. He needed to get as much he could out of her before she lost it completely.

    “They…the…” she stopped, then growling like an angry tiger she leaped from behind the desk and launched at Kyle.

    He shot at her but only got her left leg. That only slowed her down for a second. The doctor was on him before he could fire another shot. He lost his grip on his gun and it flew several feet away. Her horrible nails inches from his skin, her teeth, sharp and long like a jaguar’s, almost penetrated his neck. He couldn’t hold on much longer. Once scratch, one bite and it would be over for him.

    Shots were fired and the doctor was off Kyle. The officer kept shooting, forcing her back. It took a dozen shots for her to actually fall and yet she lived. Picking up his gun, Kyle went to stand over her, intending to shot her in the head which was the only way to kill these creatures.

    The officer let out a cry. Kyle turned in time to see the poor guy fly across the room and slam head first into the opposite wall, immediately going limp. A tall figure stood in the door way. A thin man in his thirties or forties, maybe even fifties; it was hard to tell with these creatures.

    Unlike Dr. Carlisle, he was completely bald, his black nails were twice as long as hers. His pupils were also red, except they were permanently dilated to the point of covering the iris entirely. His fangs were so long they protruded out of his mouth which was widened in a nasty grin.

    This one’s fully formed, thought Kyle, damn.

    Kyle fired several times at the creature but the bullets had no affect just as he expected. Once fully formed, not even a shot to the head would kill them.

    He attacked Kyle with a speed that should have been impossible. Kyle braced himself for the impact. He knew there was no escaping this, he knew he was as good as dead. Might as well go down fighting.

    At the last second something slammed into the creature; Dr. Carlisle. She was neither as fast nor as strong as her opponent and it didn’t help that she was injured, but she held her ground.

    It was a bloody fight between the two and Dr. Carlisle’s opponent had the advantage.

    Kyle took out his knife and sneaked out behind the creature. With all the power he could muster, Kyle buried his knife in the creature’s neck who howled in pain. Dr. Carlisle took advantage of this and bit her opponent’s neck, her teeth tearing skin and flesh as they went deeper and deeper in.

    Together Kyle with his knife and Dr. Carlisle with her inhuman teeth managed to cut the creature’s head clean from its neck after several minutes of struggle.

    “He…”Dr. Carlisle said pointing at the creature who now lay headless in a pull of his own blood. “He…Killed…all” she managed to say, her voice even more guttural and harsh than before.

    “He killed all?” Kyle repeated confused. Then it dawned on him. “The studio people, he killed them? But nobody saw him there”

    “Fast…he…too fast...to..see. Followed…me…silence…me”

    “He followed you there to silence you?” Kyle guessed. “But why?”


    Warn. She wanted to warn people, thought Kyle, that’s why she took the cylinder to the studio.

    “I saw him…behind…behind…camera…men” she continued, “I…attack…him…not them…him”.

    She had tried to save them then. She tried to save us all, thought Kyle, feeling a new admiration for the doctor.

    “He was fully formed but you’re still in transition”

    “He…he…direct…direct…cylinder” she said, “Me…me…cut…by him”

    “At the studio?” Dave asked.

    She nodded.

    That explained her quick transformation in the short hours following the massacre at the studio. Infection directly from the cylinders took a lot longer to work.

    “Kill…” Dr. Carlisle said suddenly.



    Kyle didn’t argue, he knew it had to be done. He’d done it before…years ago.

    “One last question” he said, “Who was he?” he pointed at the dead creature.

    “Dr…” began Dr. Carlisle, “Dr…” but she couldn’t finish it, so she pointed at his chest.

    Kyle noticed a name tag on the lab coat the creature wore. It read, “Dr. Blake Reinhardt”

    “A fellow scientist huh?”

    “Blake…three others…me…a team”

    “Let me guess, the other three are also infected?”

    She nodded.

    “And they’re the ones who stole the second cylinder?”

    She nodded again. “My house…my desk….go…notebook…take it”

    “Got it. Now you ready?”

    She nodded again.

    Kyle pointed the gun at her head and sighed. “I’m sorry Dr. Carlisle”.

    She actually managed to smile, a warm smile despite her animalistic features. Kyle shot her straight in the head, she went down. Her smile forever etched into her face.

    Kyle heard a groan. The officer had regained consciousness. Kyle went to him.

    “What happened?” he asked, still a little dazed

    “It’s done. It’s all over” Kyle told him. The statement couldn’t be farther from the truth but the young man didn’t need to know that.

    Kyle reached a hand to help him, the officer took it. As he rose to his feet, Kyle noticed a long gash on the officer’s right cheek.

    “How’d that happen?” Kyle asked him.

    “Wha...oh this?” he touched the wound. “It’s nothing Detective, when that bastard attacked me his nail got caught in my cheek. Guy some freaky nails, huh?”

    Kyle closed his eyes for several second. God dammit!

    He opened them to find the young officer looking at him in confusion.

    “Detective?” he asked, “You OK?”

    Kyle pointed his gun at him. The officer’s eyed widened.

    “Detective?” he said again, a note of fear in his voice.

    Kyle shot him in the head. The officer fell to the floor, blood wetting his lifeless features.

    A single drop of tear rolled down Kyle’s eyes, he didn’t wipe it off.

    “I’m sorry son,” he murmured, “It was the only way I could save you”.

    Footsteps came from the hallway. Sergeant Green and the other officers were coming. Kyle had to go, he wouldn’t be able to explain all this to them and there was no time for paperwork and silly police procedures.

    There was a window at the other end of the lab. Kyle went to it, there was only a short drop to the ground, so Kyle jumped.


    Several hours later Kyle was driving in the highway, leaving his hometown behind, for now. On the passenger seat, sat a simple, nondescript notebook which Kyle had gotten from Dr. Carlisle’s house following her last instructions. It was filled with useful details on how she and her four colleagues had come into possession of the two cylinders; and how and when they were infected.

    It had happened in the very lab were Dr. Carlisle and Dr. Reinhardt had died. The former being absent on the crucial day, had been spared the initial infection. She wasn’t so lucky this evening, thought Kyle.

    The cylinder was in the glove compartment, still wrapped in the evidence bag. One of the cylinders, that is, Kyle thought shuddering at what those creatures would and could do with the second one.

    I’m gonna end this before it gets as far as the last time. Not alone, though; I won’t make the same mistake.

    He drove into the night. His destination, the house of a friend on the outskirts of a small town seven hours from here. A long drive, but a necessary one.

    He had already called said friend, filling him in on the latest events. This particular friend had been right by Kyle’s side the last time it all happened, almost fifteen years ago and in another place.

    Well, history’s repeating itself old friend, thought Kyle, Hope you’re up to it.
  5. kenver

    kenver Member

    Sep 30, 2015
    Likes Received:
    United States
    Aldo of the White Night [781 words]

    Aldo steps out of a cab into a puddle, into the apian snowfall of dusk. He likes the fat snow, bats his eyelashes frequently, gloved hands resting at his sides as the snow melts on his cheeks and upper lip. He’s here to find that most sacred affirmation of St. Petersburg, the numb St. Petersburg of the taciturn foreigner, of travelers’ memories. Aldo is a violent gangster. This week alone he’s murdered one man and one thirteen-year-old boy. For this there are few excuses—Aldo is a tall man of high internal temperature and thick eyebrows. He thought about the dead boy in the cab and felt sorrow.

    But now Aldo has a hard-on developing in his underwear. There’s a windy confluence of hard-on and frozen civil twilight, and Aldo imagines himself in St. Petersburg in a terrarium at the end of a three-thousand-mile-long hard-on in outer space. The thrill of solitude, Aldo thinks, never diminishes. It is the one true thrill, the germinal thrill.

    Hotel management. Aldo contemplates this as he walks. The Community College of Philadelphia offers courses in hotel management, he thinks. He flicks snow vertically with the toes of his leather shoes as he steps and the bottom of his wool overcoat collects powder. Insiders know that in the land of the call girl, the hotel manager is king. But Aldo is far from the Community College of Philadelphia, and Russian newspapers without trashcans massage the bare areas of sidewalks under awnings and second-story protuberances. Some go searching for rubdowns in gusts of wind, some collect in worn cubbies in the darkness. The bars of the crevices offer such services, Aldo thinks. St. Petersburg. To put your hat on in the city when you wake, St. Petersburg. The great sexual wallet of the unfurnished, St. Petersburg. The spurs of the whores of the streets are foggy and the bars of the cracks are foggy and the motivation of everyone on earth is foggy—illicit sex and many hotel lobbies, an all red-light district Russia in the fat snow, Aldo thinks. Managed hotel lobbies. The streetlights come on.

    Aldo approaches a payphone. He lifts the matte rubber handset. He places the handset back on the cradle. He turns toward the expanse of the sidewalk and begins to chase a delicately wrinkled newspaper page. He catches it before it hits the snow of the street and the paper crumples in his fist. Every one of these pages, recto, verso, is loaded with beautiful women, Aldo thinks. He lifts the handset and clamps it between his head and shoulder, produces several coins from his overcoat pocket with some effort, deposits the coins into the payphone.

    Pallid light of the hotel lobby now. Aldo looks down at his leather shoes, bats the lips of his overcoat. The manager works the register in a place like this, Aldo thinks as he approaches the old man standing behind the sallow bullet-resistant glass on the other side of the lobby. The old man looks straight ahead. A life of horror in this place and basal-cell carcinoma on the left cheek, Aldo surmises. U vas yest' svobodnaya komnata, Aldo says. The old man points to a laminated sign taped to the inside of the bullet-resistant glass. Aldo squints and holds up three fingers. Tri, Aldo says.

    This local taxi driver will pass the port, Aldo thinks, looking out onto the street through the small round window of his room. If at any time there are Russian prostitutes that will commit prostitution to the dead and cold of foreign places, here, in the snow, then why should it be that some children are murdered in basements? Now, Aldo thinks, prostitution—this practice is widespread, mere horseplay for men and women with identification cards for showing bouncers at doors and windows blackened with shoe polish, a nod and an agreement. Certain hotels employ bouncers, and we know these to be the establishments operating brothels in the plain creamy light of day. This is Neptune’s Russia. Sex perfection. The nightmare starts later on, in the vomitous areas of the white night. Save that for later, Aldo thinks. Basic St. Petersburg. The hotspot for basic consent in all Mother, where one must not become paranoid, humor fantasies of sea cruises.

    Aldo lies fully clothed on blankets and pillows on top of the bed. He’s tried the television—no signal. Aldo is waiting. He’s cracked the window and from behind heavy curtains waft buffets of ozone and the white night. Aldo takes a deep breath. He takes a deep breath. He takes a deep breath. He takes a deep breath. The snap of a rattrap under the bed, St. Petersburg.
  6. Indigo Sugar

    Indigo Sugar Member

    Oct 3, 2015
    Likes Received:
    The Clinic [3079]

    Britney sat in the staff bathroom; holding a pregnancy test. After being four days late, she stopped by the local drug store on her way to work, needing to put her mind at ease.

    It’s only stress related. You’ll take this test, and by tomorrow morning the bitch will be here.

    Even though she told herself it wasn’t possible, deep down she knew. Frantically, Britney opened the test packet. Having done one before, she pointed the stick down and released the litre of apple juice she’d drank on her morning commute. With a slight shake to her hand she pulled it back and replaced the cap before putting it face down onto the counter. Still sitting, she dropped her head into her hands, taking long deep breaths.

    This is the longest two minutes of my life. Please be negative, it was just one night.

    Britney had met a guy a few weeks ago at a local pub, The Draft Pub, down from her apartment.

    His name was Pete, he was charming and had Britney hooked in only a few minutes after offering to buy her a drink. His emerald green eyes dazzled her, his voice bewitched her. He complimented her tight curls and the dimples on her cheeks. One drink together was all it took, they had an instant connection. One that would lead to Britney bringing him to her apartment. This wasn’t something she normally did, but she couldn’t resist him. Before she knew it they were having unprotected sex. She didn’t care, it was the best sex she’d had in a long time.

    Britney soon learned that Pete worked out of town. He was a heavy duty mechanic and worked on the big rigs up north for weeks, only taking time off when it was enforced. They’d exchanged phone numbers, and had kept in good contact since he left. Britney thought she’d finally found a great guy. He was due back in a few days, and she couldn’t wait to see him.

    Please be negative. This could ruin everything.

    Hesitant to know the truth, Britney stood up, doing up her jeans and adjusting her tank. She blindly picked up the test, and with one last hopefully sigh she flipped it over. There it was, in her shaking hands, a clear positive. She was pregnant. She clasped one hand around her mouth and began to cry.

    There was a knocking on the door, followed by one of Britney’s coworkers, Jasmine saying “Hey girl, you doing okay in there? Not to sound creepy but you’re never in the toilet this long.”

    Britney couldn’t help but stifle a small giggle. Wiping the tears from her face she cleared her throat “Ehhm, yeah must have been a bad burrito. I’m okay, just finishing up. Thanks”.

    “Okay. You have a table of four that just sat in your section.”

    Standing up in the bathroom she grabbed some toilet paper and blew her nose, “Right, okay. I’ll be right out.” Looking at herself in the mirror, her golden locks flowing past her shoulders, her makeup only slightly ruined from the tears. She took a deep breath in.

    Okay Britney. Put your shit aside for now. Deal with it later.

    As if resetting a timer for a bomb, she cleaned the last of her smeared mascara off her face and walked out of the bathroom. To a stranger you wouldn’t know she’d just experienced a life changing event.


    Britney managed to make it through her shift in one piece, but as soon as she got to her apartment, she lost control. Her phone was full of messages from Pete, she hadn’t been able to text him all day. Not knowing what to say to him, or if she should even tell him.

    Pulling herself together yet again, she drew herself a bath, lit some candles and decided to get lost in her favorite Radiohead album.


    “Britney!?” cried Britney’s roommate, Terra, as she entered their apartment.

    “Terra, I’m in the bath.” her response sounding weak.

    Terra peered in through the bathroom door, “Come on in girl.” said Britney as she gestured Terra to join her. She walked in and sat on the toilet.

    “Whats going on? The last time I came home to you having a bath before seven o’clock and listening to this was after Johnny broke your heart.”

    “Yah, its been a pretty awful day. Remember Pete?”

    “Yah of course. Not only do I remember Pete, I have the sounds stuck in my brain from the night you brought him home.” Terra shook her head as if to erase the sounds from her memory, “He hurt you? I’ll fuck him up if he did anything stupid.”

    Britney sat up in the bath, holding one arm over her breasts, not that Terra hadn’t seen them before. They’d been friends for over ten years, seeing each other naked was like seeing themselves naked. It never bothered them. “No, nothing like that. It has to do with that night though...” her voice trailing off, sounding ashamed.

    “He gave you gohnosipaherpe didn’t he? I’ll … “ but before she could finish, Britney interrupted.

    “No, nothing like that. He… we… I’m… pregnant.” She sank back down into the bath, putting her head under water as if to disappear.

    “Are you kidding me? One night and blamo he went and knocked your ass up? That’s.. Wow! You’re kidding right?”

    “Terra… I took a test this morning. That positive was so strong it could have been seen from space.”

    “Wow, do I...uh...congratulate you? Or do you want the number to the clinic?” Terra’s words hit Britney like a ton of bricks. The thought of going to the abortion clinic hadn’t even crossed her mind, not yet at least.

    “You know, maybe I’ll book an appointment, before I tell Pete. Then if he doesn’t want to keep it, if we don’t want to go through with this… I’ll have made the appointment already.”

    “I’ll write it down and leave it on your dresser, you relax.” Terra stood up, before closing the door she turned back and in a reassuring tone said “We’ll get through this Brit, together. I promise. With our without Pete.”

    With a sheepish smile, Britney looked up at her, “I sure hope so. He comes home in a few days, I’ll tell him then.”

    “That’s probably best. Enjoy your bath.”

    Britney went through the rest of her evening as if in a daze. It felt to her like someone else was in charge of her body. She kept touching her abdomen, thinking about how amazing it was that she had created life, no matter how unintentional it was. Though she started this day unknowingly pregnant, she went to sleep knowing that in a few weeks no one would know she had even been pregnant or in nine short months her whole world would be flipped upside down.


    Over the next few days, Britney went about her schedule as normal. Picking up extra shifts at the restaurant. She even offered to be the designated driver for her friends to all go out drinking, while only Terra new why.

    The appointment had been made. Britney was only a few weeks along, so they weren’t in a big rush to get her in, and assured her that if she changed her mind, it would be easy to cancel. She had a few weeks to make up her final decision.

    Pete arrived home Sunday morning. Britney switched shifts with Jasmine in order to get the day off. She was sleeping in when suddenly her phone started vibrating on her night stand.

    Half asleep and not quite able to focus she answered the phone, placing it on the side of her head as she stayed laying down “Erhm..Hello?”

    “Hey baby,” It was Pete, oh how she’d missed his voice, “How the hell are you? It’s that day we’ve been waiting for! I’m outside your apartment building, I’ve got some breakfast for us, I couldn’t wait to see you so I rushed over after we landed. I hope you don’t mind.”

    She wasn’t ready. She had planned to prepare all morning. Hearing him say that woke her instantly. She jumped up from her bed like a frog escaping a child’s grasp. “Uh, yeah…” She was frantically cleaning her room now. Throwing things in drawers. Tossing all her clothes in the closet and looking for something to put on. “I’ll buzz you in, hold on.” She fumbled her way to the buzzer, knowing she now had about 45 seconds to do at least an hours worth of work. It’s amazing what kind of cleaning someone can do in the mere seconds before company arrives.

    *knock, knock*

    She threw on her favorite black leggings and her old highschool basketball team sweater. She took a deep breath holding her one hand on the door knob and the other on the frame. As if she were an actress waiting for the curtain to be pulled to signal the start of the show.

    “Pete!” She exclaimed as she opened the door.

    He walked into her apartment with a bouquet of daisies, a take out bag that smelled of bacon and eggs and of course coffee! He placed everything on the kitchen counter, turned to Britney and picked her up in his arms. Planting a long and lustful kiss on her lips.

    “Well if this is how you greet a girl after being gone, you should leave more often.” She smiled as he put her down.

    “Let’s eat, I am starving. The food they feed us up in those camps is despicable.” Pete started opening cupboards, making himself right at home. “Where do you keep the plates in this place?”

    “Over here…” she brushed past him and opened a drawer.

    “Oh, well. You’re the first person I’ve ever known to keep their plates in a drawer.” Giving Britney a puzzled look, “Do I even dare ask where I can find a fork?”

    They laughed, it was as if they’d been together years and he’d only left for an hour. The connection they shared was unlike anything either of them had felt before.

    “Oh, well I can’t tell you where all the stuff is kept. Just head over to the table with those beautiful flowers and the coffee. I’ll set the plates up and meet you over there.” She put herself toe to toe with him, looked up and kissed his chin. “You know, when I kiss your chin it’s kind of like kissing your ass. With that little cleft chin you have.”

    Turning from Britney and grabbing the coffee he sarcastically said “I could get used to you kissing my ass then.”

    They enjoyed breakfast together. It wasn’t bad for being take out. He’d brought belgian waffles, which Britney covered in whip cream and strawberries she’d had in the fridge. Then they shared bacon, eggs and toast. For a moment Britney completely forgot about the life she had inside her.

    Then as if hit by a freight train, she had a wave of nausea come over her. She pushed her chair back from the table “Excuse me, I think I’m about to be sick…” She ran to her bathroom. All the food she’d just enjoyed came rushing out of her mouth. A few heaves later, she flushed the toilet. Knowing that it wasn’t food poisoning, her current situation was waving its “I’m still here” flag in front of her face.

    Shyly, she joined Pete back at the table. Unable to make eye contact.

    “Hey, are you okay baby girl? I didn’t think the food was that sketchy. I’ll call and raise some shit with them about health food safety. No reason for you to get sick that fast from take-out.” Pete said in a half-angry, half concerned tone.

    “No, no. That’s not it, the food was great. The thing is…” she lost the words.

    “Ah, you’re hungover aren't you? Went out dancing with the girls?” He poked fun at her now, trying to make her laugh as he danced around her taking the plates to the sink.

    “No, Pete. Look. I’m not hungover. It’s not the food.” She stared at him wishing someone else could say the words for her. Pete stared at her waiting for her to tell him what it was.

    “I’m pregnant.”

    Pete’s face went from concerned to confused in blink of an eye. “Sorry, did you just say…”

    “I’m pregnant. It’s yours.” This time she said it with more conviction in her voice. Tears welling up.

    The moment seemed to get lost. Like a radio show that cuts out part way through a segment. It was dead air. Awkward silence took over the room.

    He slowly walked over to her, getting down on his knees. Placing his arms on her shoulders. Britney looked at him, tears running down her cheeks, “Say something.” she pleaded.

    “I...I don’t know… I never thought… How did this happen? I assumed you were on some kind of pill the night we hooked up, you should have stopped me!” His voice had gone from confused to borderline angry.

    “We were drunk. I was so into you, so into how we were together. It just never crossed my mind…” she looked away from him, wiping the tears from her face. “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you sooner, I wanted to do it in person.”

    He grabbed her and wrapped her in his arms. “I’m glad you told me, I”m sorry you felt you couldn’t tell me sooner. I was wondering why you’d felt distant the last few days.”

    She pulled away from him, looking deep into his emerald eyes “I’ve booked an appointment at the clinic.”

    “The clinic? Like abortion clinic?” he stood up now, turned away from her and stated with a firm voice. “Good, that’s a really good idea.”

    Britney knew it wouldn’t be a positive experience telling a man she’d just slept with that she was pregnant with his child. She had no idea that he would be on board for the abortion so quickly.

    “Well okay then, we have a couple weeks to cancel if we want to change our minds.” Britney stated, in a half-hearted manner, unsure if it would effect Pete’s thought process.

    They spent the rest of the day exploring the town, and Pete exclaimed how excited he was at becoming a father. How he’d never thought it would come to that.


    However, Pete slowly limited his contact with Britney. She would only hear from him once a day. Soon enough he was too busy at work to give her any response to her texts to her. Within a week he wouldn’t reply to her at all.

    One morning as her and Terra sat together she expressed her feelings, “Terra, I don’t think Pete is on board with this baby. I still have the appointment booked for Thursday. Do you think I should just go through with it? I really don’t want to bring a baby into this world under these circumstances.”

    With a heavy heart Terra expressed her true feelings, “Look, you’re my best friend and I don’t want to see you raise a child on your own. If you want my honest opinion… One abortion isn’t going to kill you. Then when you meet the right guy, it will feel right. You’ll both want it.”

    Britney didn’t respond. Awkward silence took over the room, engulfing all of her thoughts. She was soon lost in thoughts of how she’d raise this baby alone, or how her life would play out if she went through with the abortion. Finally as if awoken from a trance she responded, “You’re right Terra. This doesn’t feel right, and I don’t want to be alone through this. I can’t do it alone. Will you take me to my appointment?”

    Without hesitation Terra replied, “Of course, I’m here for you. Always.”


    Thursday morning came fast. Terra drove Britney to the clinic. Once she signed in they both sat down in the waiting room. It was awkward, the room was full of young girls, some with boyfriends some with friends. They were all there for the same reasons. To rid themselves of the life growing inside them, to hit restart on the baby game. Britney couldn’t stand to make eye contact with anyone. She looked down at her phone, busying herself with a word search app. Soon after being sat down, she was called into the back waiting room.

    Once there, they gave Britney a final ultrasound. She was ten weeks into the pregnancy. They gave her two pills to insert into her cervix if she was wanting to go through with the abortion. She looked at the ultrasound screen, seeing her baby, but knowing deep down that this wasn’t how she wanted to bring a child into the world. She took the pills from the nurse, and inserted them into her cervix. Now she had to wait.

    The pills took about forty five minutes to work, to open her cervix. She sat there, in a separate waiting room with six other girls her age. All not wanting to make eye contact. All of them ashamed to have been brought to this moment in their lives. At long last, a nurse came and called her name. The nurse gave her a pill to numb the pain, and walked her into the surgery room. Things were blurry now for Britney. She laid on the table, placed her feet in the stirrups. From here all she heard was the nurse at her head saying as she held her hand, “It’s okay, this life wasn’t meant to be, you will have another chance at this when you’re ready.”

    Within those last moments, all Britney could think about was how she should be in this position 8 months from now. She kept thinking to herself, I should be hearing the sounds of a life beginning, not the silence of a life ending. All she heard was dead air. Silence overtook the room. Her pregnancy was over before it even began.

    Soon after the operation. The nurses walked Britney to a seat where she would take some more pills for pain and be sent home. Terra was there to help her home. With a heavy heart, she changed into her street clothes. To go on with her life as if this moment had never come to be.

    She later told Pete, she’d lost the baby in an early miscarriage. They never spoke again.
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2015
  7. _AB

    _AB Member

    Sep 27, 2015
    Likes Received:
    The Question [2,249 words]

    The two vibrations came rapid. The phone's indicator flashed with blinking green light. Green light meant a text message, not an email or an alarm. The rapid vibrations meant that its from Facebook. I felt a flash of anxiety after this identification. Maybe she cancelled. I picked up the phone and woke it up from Standby mode. The clock display read 8:48 PM.

    "Good evening, Dear"
    "Running a bit late"
    "Hope it's ok to push it 15 min"


    The tension eased down. That's ok. A delay would give me sometime to finish up.

    "Good evening, Dear"
    "Running a bit late"
    "Hope it's ok to push it 15 min"

    "Good morning. Yeah sure"

    Routine work always helps restore normality to a situation. I went to the kitchen closet to pick up the duster. 15 minutes would give me time to do a lot of small routine things. Tension eased down with every sweep. My focus was redirected towards handling the small creases near the night stand and closet. Long and tidy sweeps. Not too forced. Just keep it smooth.

    10 minutes remaining. It would take sometime for the elevator to take me to the parking lot. Also, I have to account for the walking time from the elevator to the parking lot exit. Travel time should amount to less than 5 minutes. I decided to play it safe and arrive early. I stepped out of the house. Locked the door. Rechecked my belongings in case I missed anything. For a moment, I froze in my place. Everything seemed so real. In motion. Too overwhelming. I decided I'll just take it step by step and see where that would take me.

    The elevator's red indicator flashed "13" with digital font. A simple press of a button opened the doors immediately. It was as if the elevators didn't want me to second-guess myself. I stepped inside and pressed the parking lot floor. The heavy metallic doors whined and slowly slammed shut, forbidding me from going back.

    Diana. That was the name she told me when I asked her. Her Facebook page says "Diana Jeffrey De Cara". Very open. She didn't try to hide her full name to try and fit in, which meant that she already had friends and close people in her life before she joined Facebook. She is not trying to hide her persona or acquire a new one. That's a very good first sign.

    Her first encounter with me was in the company elevator. She initiated the conversation by stating that her favorite movie was also Fight Club. She must've been one of the few people listening when I was first introduced to the company in the weekly meeting and some guy asked me what was my favorite movie. Fight Club is a really good title. A bit old, but a pretty safe option. Won't arouse too many questions. Our meeting was a very brief one. She introduced herself as simply "Diana". She had silky brunette hair, tied in a knot. Blue eyes. Modest dressing. Very casual. I guess it was just me, but our elevator encounter was swept under the radar, unnoticed. Its funny to think about it now.


    Her page says that she likes art and literature. A graduate law student, but working as a "customer experience specialist", which is a step above answering angry phone calls from angry customers who don't know how to use a computer.

    She likes Pulp Fiction and Gone in The Wind. She likes Paulo Coelho and she hates cooking. Her profile picture shows her smiling with her hands hugging her knees. The picture is in black & white and done by a professional. The picture's description shows the photographer's name and a link to his page. I recognized the photographer. He also works in the company.

    There were a lot of photos with her coworker, Maria. Maria is a blonde, blue-eyed, rose-cheeked beauty queen. Her short stature and voluptuous features made her the fantasy of every guy – and I'm sure, couple of girls – in the company. We haven't talked other than mere introductions, but I can tell that she was the type of person that had been a princess all her life, ever since her daddy bought her a pony. An easy rider with a life full of parties, fantasies, and illusions. A person like that would never fail to find company – intimate or social.

    The photo I saw was tagged "Our Wednesday Brazilian BBQ Night". Diana and Maria took a selfie with Maria holding the phone. The picture was tagged with 7:27 PM; it happened right after work. Maria was wearing a white dress with a low neckline and see-through patterns in her bosom area; just what would you expect such a character.

    The elevator gave a bell ring, announcing its arrival. The heavy metallic doors slid through their wall sockets, calmly inviting me to step out. The parking lot's drain pipes and ceiling steel tubes gave a familiar hum that added to the ambiance of the night time, distant ambulance sirens completed the picture. The air was heavier tonight. I could almost taste the musty vapor in the air. The condo's ground floor would also lead to the entrance, but it is a longer trip. The parking lot was the faster route. She should be arriving within the next 10 minutes or so. I made my way towards the condo entrance.

    The first message she sent was yesterday. We haven't spoken after our elevator encounter. We haven't even added each other as Facebook friends. It was easy and usual to let her die in my subconscious without giving it a second thought.

    I received the message at 5:47 AM.
    Around 5:00 AM, I broke down.

    Its never really one reason, right?? Its usually a combination of attacks from multiple directions. But, if you asked me to narrow it down to one, I can easily say that my addiction was acting up. I needed a high so bad, I could almost faint. It started, just like it usually does, with a simple question. My mind throw a knife in the dark, in the quite serenity of a calm, warm bed at 5 in the morning.

    For most people, the cravings usually start after a hard day at work, a nasty break-up, a horrible accident were they just want to forget. For me, sometimes it goes down like that. But a lot of times it would be a perfectly timed shot from the Dark Marksman, just when the defenses are down and the guards relaxed.

    "Why don't you do it??"

    Questions can be identified as the most basic form of mind control. A question craves an answer; its powers would keep growing until it fulfills its singular, monotonous objective. The Dark Marksman's bullet travelled straight through and hit the target. A burning poker through butter. My defenses were down and the perimeter was breached. The Question was asked

    That question was all it took for my entire existence to come crashing down from its resting place. It has happened so many times before that I knew it was only a matter of time before I break. The septic, acidic bullet pierced the target with sinister accuracy. Sleep was ripped away from my eyes and soul; replaced with fear, dread, and pure agony for whats to come. The bullet was merely a declaration – a promise – that the rest of my day, or two days, or three days would be a pointless effort of trying to shut that bottomless question from getting answered or repeated in my mind before I finally give up and succumb to the poison. To the Dark Marksman.

    It was pointless to force myself to sleep at this stage. I didn't want to be left alone with my thoughts in such a compromising position. The Question would ever endlessly keep repeating itself in the dead of the night. I put on a shirt from last night and stepped out to the balcony. I locked the balcony behind me in an effort to isolate my problems outside of this extruded space. The night was still dark, but the moon's full glory was on display for whoever dared to look. The wind carried welcoming cold shivers in flight, almost making me forget about my misery. The condo I lived in had two apartment buildings, called blocks. My balcony overlooked the second block. The distance between the two were close enough for me to see my neighbor's wet clothes hanging from the clothesline in their balcony, but not close enough to identify if it was male or female clothing. I had a dryer as well as a washing machine. I bought one for the sole reason of having my balcony clear of distractions. I had setup a writing desk and chair, overlooking the second block. I liked going to the balcony. The air was always much lighter at this level and it felt as if my problems were merely frozen in static articulation.

    My mind had a way of isolating my thoughts from The Question's vicious cycle – at least for a limited time. It was never able to eliminate, or even reduce, its effect. It merely let it run in the background of my mind, like a malicious virus hiding from view by replicating itself throughout the entire system.

    I lived alone for most of my life. It was much easier, and clearer, to verbalize my thoughts rather than deafen my mind with multiple voices screaming at the same time. I tried my luck at siphoning my thoughts towards my life. I live in a very luxurious place. Found a job in a good company, where I get to do what I like, and it gave me a lot of free time – maybe too much free time. Everyone whines about not having enough time to do whatever it is that they think they want to do, but the truth of the matter is that life happens when you're busy doing other things. I think Lennon said that.

    After close to 5 minutes, the virus became too hungry for attention. It pushed its way towards the front of my mind, leaving a path of destruction behind it.


    I broke down. No matter how far I push, no matter how hard I focus, it still comes back full-throttle to haunt my existence. The Dark Marksman never misses, he can wait endlessly, hidden and blended in the somber shadows. Waiting to take the perfect shot. And he didn't miss this time. This was, just as always, the shot the seismically infected every future thought. The one that shook my entire core and effectively halted my entire progression. Every time I try to move forward with my life, I open up myself to another pierce from His rifle.

    A singular tear made its way to my upper lip. I cupped my head in the palm of my hands, and I knew that I would die with my addiction untreated. Undiscovered.

    I couldn't stay any longer in the balcony. The comforting and safe air felt dead and broken. I unlocked the balcony door and went back to my room.

    The room felt sinister. As if my demons were waiting for me to come back. It felt as if no place was safe in the entire world.

    I saw the familiar blinking green light from my phone on the bed stand. At first, I thought it was an email from an ad agency, a spam email or something unimportant. I only noticed the green color the second time it flashed. A green color indicates that it was a private message from a friend on a messaging application. I picked up the phone.

    I saw her message at 5:47 AM.

    Diana Jeffrey De Cara Says:

    "Everything Ok??"

    The photo near the message wasn't big enough for me to recognize the sender. I unlocked my phone's screen to see the message in full view. My phone only viewed the last message. The full message wrote:

    "Hey neighbor"
    "Everything Ok??"

    The rest, as they say, was self-explanatory. Diana must've seen me through the balcony. She extended a helping hand to pull me from my madness. She didn't care how. She remembered my name, looked me up, sent a message and she didn't care how the message would be perceived.

    I've reached the entrance of the parking lot. I had a clear view of the condo's entrance from where I was standing. The street lambs casted a dimly light on the bench near the entrance. My only wish at the time was to spend the rest of my days and nights looking at her sitting on that bench. She looked more true than anything I could ever imagine. She smiled at me as I walked up to her. "Hey", she said, barely audible over the sound of my beating heart.

    "Hello", I said.

    She gave me a comforting smile. A smile that silenced my past, present and future from ever beckoning the Dark Marksman to peer his ancient rifle from the shadows. The cure to my darkness. The calm winds that cleared the dead air of the skies.
  8. AspiringNovelist

    AspiringNovelist Senior Member

    Jul 19, 2015
    Likes Received:
    Gulf Coast
    Title: Lemmings in the Dead Air (505 words)

    A dead air floated toward our town.

    It was said that this particular mass of air could burn the skin and rive the lips. That as slow as it was, it would somehow draw you into its path. Neighborhood dogs and feral felines dodged it. Rats clung to their space between buildings and sidewalks like thugs and dared it to come near.

    Birds circled above it.

    We had received word that this “abnormality” was heading our way hours before. For some reason, early that morning, the local preacher stepped in its path when it appeared on our small town’s horizon.

    The preacher held his cross high above his head and fell to his knees. Looking directly in the dead air, he shouted, “This is Satan’s lung, dear God. Protect us!”

    The preacher’s toes were the last part of him to freeze.

    Any living thing that could – moved. Everything else in this dead air's orb’s path was frozen. I watched the preacher closely as he met his maker. The dead air claimed the extremities first. I saw the cold move through the preacher’s fingernails, his fingers, then travel down his arm – each passage the cold touched caused flesh to fall and crash to the ground. Eventually, the preacher was a pile of fractured meat-ice.

    As soon as the dead air moved past him, the meat-ice began to thaw into a bloody pile of hamburger. It was absolutely disgusting, but it made tracking the dead air that much easier.

    The thing is, the dead air didn’t move very fast. It was an orb of evil of some sort. It was easily avoidable, but it all started with the preacher…

    The preacher’s loving wife screamed aloud when she had witnessed what had happened. She ran right into the orb and was instantly turned into a pile of meat-ice.

    Then the preacher’s daughter followed her mother. And the son followed his older sister.

    Within a matter of minutes and a few yards, the entire clergy of our town had been decimated.

    Then an uncle, the brother of the preacher and usually drunk, came out of the nearby salon and ran toward the thawing remains of his brother. From his gait and movement, I’d have to assume the preacher’s brother was completely sober, yet he ran into the same orb and died the same frozen death.

    I eased back into the threshold of my shop and watched as other brave men, distraught women, and unsuspecting creatures fell to the dead air’s cold orb. Shocked by their actions.

    That’s when Johanna peered over my shoulder and asked, “Where is John?”

    “He’s at the grocery getting your list of supplies.”

    Johanna tapped me on the shoulder, “Go get him.” She urged.


    I stepped out of the shop’s threshold and began calling for my son, John, as I made my way toward the grocery just up the street.

    My son exited the grocery shop, saw the orb, dropped the supplies and ran in the orb’s direction.

    I chased my son screaming, “No!”

    My wife chased me, screaming, “John!”
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2015
  9. Ben414

    Ben414 Contributor Contributor

    Aug 1, 2013
    Likes Received:
    The Event [705 words]

    He was in the kitchen when he first heard it. The birds in his backyard stopped chirping, and the air conditioning shut off in spite of the 90 degree weather. Even the noise from the television, an ever-present guest in their house, went absent. Silence filled the room with an overpowering presence.

    He tried to open his mouth to call out to his family but his brain seemed to think this was impossible, as if he were asking his body to levitate off the ground. A primal fear coursed through him. Not the kind that plagues men shipping off to war and women walking down dark alleyways, but the kind that claims you when you are having a picnic with your wife and kids on a beautiful autumn afternoon.

    Then, just as abruptly as it began, it ended.

    The birds began their singsong, the air conditioning restarted with a burst of whirring, and the laugh track from some Disney show resumed its place inside the walls of the house.

    His wife and kids claimed they hadn’t noticed the event, and he was probably just overworked and overstressed. That night, after tucking the kids into bed and waiting for them to fall asleep, he and his wife had sex for the first time in three weeks. Afterward, he took a shower and tried to fall asleep while his wife snored loudly next to him.

    Five days passed. His son brought home an “A” on a spelling quiz, and his daughter brought home a mild cold that got passed on to his wife.

    He was alone in bed reading a book when it happened again. The drone of his neighbor’s lawn mower suddenly died, and the air conditioning shut off again. A phlegmy cough from his wife halted midway through.

    The silence was different this time. It had a metallic, artificial feel to it, like when a television is left on without any picture or sound to output. He picked himself off the bed, the springs making no noise as they expanded from the reduced pressure.

    He left the bedroom and started down the hallway toward the kids’ bedrooms. Pushing open his daughter’s door, he was greeted by an empty room. He continued toward his son’s door, which was already ajar. The room’s only occupant was an iPad lying on the desk with a silent music video playing onscreen.

    Retaking his path, he went down the stairs and immediately came across his family. His wife, son, and daughter were sitting on the couch, staring intently at the television. He stood there a moment, unsure of whether he wanted them to recognize his entrance. They remained motionless.

    The primal fear grasped his body and demanded that he escape. NOW. His legs began to shake as he calculated the distance between his location and the front door and the time required to cover that distance. The silence grew louder, bleeding into his thoughts. He pictured himself walking over to the couch, sitting down next to his family, and turning his head toward the television. NOW.

    It ended just as abruptly as before. His wife finished her phlegmy cough, and his son chewed on his fingernails. His wife turned toward him and offered a brief, but genuine, smile.

    He didn’t tell them about the event this time.

    Two weeks passed. His wife got the promotion she had long deserved, and his daughter got the leading role in a school play.

    He was washing his hands in the downstairs bathroom when it happened again. Muted water poured out of the faucet, over his hands, and circled down the drain. The walls of the bathroom seemed to bend and enclose around him under the weight of the silence.

    He reached for the door knob and slipped out into the hallway. The silence gnawed at his mind, replacing his conscious thoughts with dead air. As he headed for the exit, the silence grew louder. The walls and ceiling reached out for him and the air became too heavy to breathe. The silence grew louder and louder until there was nothing else.

    A primal fear coursed through him as he sat down on the couch next to his family and turned toward the television.
    _AB likes this.
  10. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

    Aug 12, 2015
    Likes Received:
    London, UK
    The Budget Airline (1184)

    Dear Sirs

    I am writing to complain about my recent flight with Dead Air.

    I chose to fly with you because you charge very reasonable fares. I was not put off by the negative reviews from relatives of your passengers, or the many sensationalist news articles condemning your business model as unethical – I personally find the profiteering of other airlines to be much more worrying (British Airways quoted me 4x the price you did!) Sadly, despite my open-mindedness I was very disappointed with the overall experience and with the customer service I received from Dead Air.

    The problems began at check-in. The assistant’s communication skills left much to be desired; she merely grunted and pointed in order to request my passport and ticket. She was then infuriatingly slow on the computer. This was somewhat understandable as three of her fingers fell off during the typing process, but the supervisor was terribly slow in attending to the issue. The masking tape he used to reattach the digits looked very flimsy and I would not be surprised if other customers had to contend with the same sluggish service I was subjected to.

    The irritations did not end there. As recommended on your website, I had purchased a DeadAir™ Spinal Cord Separator to protect myself during the flight, at a cost of £19.99 – significantly more than I paid for the flight itself (but still cheaper than British Airways). I understand that this is the only weapon permitted on your flights and carries a 100% guarantee of killing the crew should there be any breaches in security. You can therefore imagine my annoyance when the check-in assistant grunted at a sign informing me that I had reached the free luggage allowance with clothes and there would be a £23.50 charge for each additional 500g packed. The DeadAir™ Spinal Cord Separator, as you well know, is 497g.

    The supervisor was most unhelpful in responding to my complaint at this stage. After a circular argument lasting several minutes he informed me that your customers’ chances of survival are 32% without the DeadAir™ Spinal Cord Separator and 78% with, and asked if my life was worth £23.50. I was forced to abandon the weapon and proceed unarmed. If I was willing to pay British Airways prices, I would have flown with them.

    The check-in assistant’s arm fell off when she waved me goodbye. It was not a clean break.

    You may accuse me of being over-optimistic but I was still hoping for a pleasant flight once the check-in counter was happily behind me and the small chunk of rotting bicep muscle was removed from my Dolce and Gabbana handbag. I reminded myself that the ticket had been an absolute bargain and I hadn’t had to dip into the Portuguese Villa Fund to pay for it.

    Once I boarded the plane I began to suspect my positivity was misplaced. I was pointed to my seat, with a grunt, by an air hostess. Not only was there an unpleasant smell of decomposition pervading the entire cabin, but I was seated beside a young woman with a squalling child hanging off the side of her chair. I presume it was not on its mother’s lap because there was not enough space to hold a pygmy field mouse, let alone a lumpy toddler. Not only was said toddler making a constant noise in the precise key of nails scraping down a chalkboard, but it had eaten its last meal rather messily and its face was covered in pieces of meat, attracting a fair bit of attention from the crew.

    I was not happy with the seating arrangement but when I complained a cabin-crew-supervisor informed me there was an £18.45 surcharge for moving from one’s allocated seat. I was forced to remain beside the appetising aroma of the child.

    Having somehow crammed myself into a seat with legroom barely sufficient for an immature bonsai tree, I diligently attempted to watch the pre-take-off security and emergency instructions. Unfortunately my comprehension was thwarted by the host’s hand dropping off when he pointed out the closest emergency exit. Once again, it was not a clean break and it was inexpertly patched up with masking take by a rather harassed-looking crew supervisor. I suspect the live:undead ratio of your staff is not correctly balanced. My praise of your ethical pricing was misplaced; it’s a disgrace that you clearly value profits above the welfare of your customers.

    I was then treated to an eleven-minute-and-twelve-second sales pitch from said supervisor, in which we were offered a DeadAir™ Spinal Cord Separator for the vastly inflated sum of £29.99, having been informed that the monthly statistics had just been released and the survival rate for unarmed passengers was now 29%. These kind of high-pressure sales techniques are most crass and I suggest you retrain your staff in appropriate methods at your earliest convenience.

    It was impossible to get any rest as the supervisors were constantly running around dealing with the crew’s attempts to eat the passengers. Every few minutes there were loud, intrusive announcements from the captain ordering his undead slaves back to their seats.

    As I was unable to move more than an estimated seven millimetres in any direction, let alone enough to reach my in-flight magazine, I was very bored. I was glad when the meals were served, giving me something to do. Alas, I had to expel the first mouthful rather forcefully, staining my Gucci dress with flecks of something inedible and orange. I was informed by the supervisor that you use no seasoning in your meals as salt is poisonous to the crew and immediately sends them back to their graves. I feel you could have at least tried to spice things up with a herb or two rather than serving a carton of mushed cardboard. Perhaps it is an attempt to make the customers unappetising to the crew, in the manner of a Portobello mushroom stuffed with papier mache, but judging by the number of deaths in-flight it is not proving successful.

    Things deteriorated further when, as the supervisors were busy attending to the re-animating passengers in Row F, the aromatic child beside me was attacked by three crew members. The young mother was unable to fight off the attack and I spent the remainder of the flight picking bits of sinew and flesh from my Prada jacket. Had my recently-departed neighbours not been too decimated to re-animate, I may not have made it to the end of the flight.

    At least the severely restricted legroom came in handy when the supervisors were eaten; the crew were unable to reach me in the ensuing kerfuffle.

    Now, I hope you will see that your service simply must improve. Using the undead as staff may cut costs but they must be properly trained in customer care. I will accept vouchers as compensation for my inconvenience and I expect to see significant improvements on my next flight with you, which will be on the sixteenth of Novmeber – you are, after all, still considerably cheaper than British Airways.

    Yours faithfully

    Mrs J Moremo

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