February 27, 2015

It happened almost every night, although this was the first time he’d been called out.

It was harmless, really.

A bunch of teenagers hanging around at the reservoir. The makeshift campfire and the few torches stuck in the ground didn’t shed very much light, but it was enough to see what was going on. Groups of kids were scattered around the silvery water, flirting and drinking illicit cans of beer, probably swiped from their parents’ cupboards. Some were huddling by the campfire, although the night wasn’t cold, so he could presume they had other reasons for it.

Every now and then, he’d hear a splash and know some kid had jumped off of the little ridge and into the reservoir itself. If he listened, he could hear splash-fights and laughter from not too far away.

If he was honest with himself, he was a little jealous of them. He shrugged his shoulders, shifting them around inside his uniform, trying in vain to get comfortable. The navy blue uniform with the bright, shiny badge on it might look authoritative, but the wool was itchy as hell, especially on this hot and muggy July night.

Honestly, he wasn’t sure why he was there – it wasn’t like there was a crime being committed. The old lady at the edge of the forest preserve had called in a ‘nuisance’, as she usually did. It couldn’t be because of the noise. There was music blaring, but they were nowhere near her house – no way she could hear it. No – she’d seen the cars driving past her house and called it in anyway.

And what was wrong with what they were doing, really?

Everyone deserves to have some nights like this. To be young and free, with no reason to get up early and no reason to care.

Another distant splash distracted him.

He’d never had this, although it was really no one’s fault but his own.

He’d seen the caravan of beat-up cars driving to the reservoir on hot summer nights. He’d had his chance. And he’d blown it. Either too awkward or too scared to go, he’d spent his summer nights reading on the porch, watching the bugs get zapped one at a time as they flew into the neon light.

So he’d never had this.

And now, years later, he was supposed to bust up somebody else’s fun.

He knew he could. That he’d wade into the group of kids and tell them to break it up and head home. And they’d roll their eyes and pack it up, moving the party to somebody’s basement – whoever’s parents happened to be out of town.

But he didn’t want to.

No – he knew what he wanted.

And really – no really – now that he stopped to think about it… why shouldn’t he?

Sometimes in life, opportunities pass you by. Sometimes it’s too late.

And sometimes it isn’t.

None of the kids sitting by the reservoir heard the cop show up – his car wasn’t any louder than any of theirs and he hadn’t turned on his sirens or his lights.

He started with the short-sleeved itchy wool shirt. Then came the trousers.

He didn’t see the shocked looks on their faces as he leapt off of the ridge, cannon-balling into the reservoir wearing only his boxers.

He didn’t care.

But damn, it felt good.

Writing Prompt:

1000+ words * A Police Officer * shedding inhibitions

(under word count for once…)

Image courtesy of:

http://www.morguefile.com/

February 26, 2015

It wasn’t worth it.

Thinking logically, he knew this.

A new ball would cost … what? Five dollars? Ten?

He’d pay a million dollars not to have to go in there.

Not, strictly speaking, that he had a million dollars. He didn’t even have five. And it wouldn’t have mattered if he had.

There are things more important than money. And proving to your friends that you’re not a chicken is one of them. Besides, there was plenty of daylight left, with nothing to do. If he didn’t go in there and get the ball, the rest of the day would be ruined.

He shouldn’t be scared, he knew. It was just a building – a house, like any other on the block. But people lived in the other houses… he saw them every day, getting into their cars, going to work, coming home, making dinner, mowing the lawn.

People didn’t live in this house.

And if people didn’t live in it…. What did?

It had been abandoned for a long time. On quiet summer nights, you could hear it creaking, as if the house itself was breathing. And even as he stepped onto the path leading up to the front door, he could feel the ground shift beneath his feet, almost as if it was sighing.

He’d never believed the house was haunted before. Had laughed at his friends when they said it.

But it’s a lot easier to not-believe something from far away. It’s much easier to laugh and say ‘of course, it isn’t haunted; don’t be silly’ from a distance. And maybe he would say it from a distance, once he was safely out of the house, with the baseball in hand.

Surely, this wasn’t so bad? It was just a house, after all. Just like any other. That’s what he told himself as he rested his hand on the doorknob, turning it and pushing the door open.

The wood of the door was warped and twisted by prolonged exposure and so it sat, slightly crooked in its’ frame and pushed open quite easily, albeit emitting a loud squeal from the rusted hinges.

Beyond the doorway, the house lay silent.

And if, just for a few seconds, he thought he’d heard a chuckle, low and throaty, coming from the depths of the house, he ignored it. He’d just imagined it, he told himself.

And that, dear reader, was his first mistake.

Writing Prompt:

350-500 words * conflict * abandoned building

Image Courtesy of:

http://www.morguefile.com/

February 25, 2015

Sorry guys… dropped the ball… got all distracted yesterday. Here’s the continuation of Monday’s story. And if you missed Monday’s story, you can find it here:

https://litforlunch.wordpress.com/2015/02/23/february-23-2015/

******

Aunt Alice kept ignoring him, no matter how many times he tried to tell her.

“Aunt Alice,” he said for the umpteenth time. “I swear, he’s a spy…. I saw it with my own eyes.”

Aunt Alice smiled kindly at him.

“You’ve got a great imagination, sweetheart,” she said. “And it would be really great if you would use it to write some stories. But you need to leave that man alone. He didn’t pay for his plane ticket to be bothered by you.”

The man was already seated by the time they got onto the plane. Luckily, it was only a few rows ahead of where they were seated. Oliver was glad he could keep a close eye on the man. On their way in, Oliver accidentally-on-purpose bumped into the man, jostling him. The movement was enough for Oliver to see the flash of silver in the front pocket of the briefcase sitting in the man’s lap.

Good. Now he knew where it was, it wouldn’t be so hard for him to get to it. Or so he hoped.

Oliver watched, waiting for an opening. He hoped the man would fall asleep. But no such luck. He stayed wide awake. Oliver guessed he shouldn’t have expected something so easy – after all, spies weren’t exactly known for letting their guard down, were they?

He would, he realized, just have to go in. This was not a mission he could afford to flub. He kept his breathing steady as he unbuckled his seat belt and got up – he’d ‘let’ Aunt Alice take the window seat so that he could maintain a visual on his suspect.

That was how cops talked, wasn’t it? He was pretty sure it was appropriate, given the situation.

“Where are you going?” Aunt Alice asked again.

What kind of a question is that?

They were, after all, on an airplane. His options were pretty limited.

“I’m going to the bathroom,” he muttered under his breath.

“Ok,” she said, giving him an odd look.

She decided that being trapped on a plane with an eleven-year-old was probably not the best time to bring up his bladder issues. But she made a mental note to speak to his mother about it.

Her book slid back up over her eyes as he walked away.

Oliver took a deep breath. It was now or never.

Swiftly, he ducked down by the man’s seat and pretended to tie his shoe. The briefcase was right there – lying conveniently at the man’s feet as he read his newspaper. It was easy to slip his fingers into the pocket of the briefcase and pull out the disc. Within moments, the disc was securely hidden in the oversized front pocket of his hoody.

Oliver fought back a smile.

He couldn’t smile now.

It would give everything away.

Calmly, he continued onto the bathroom, stayed there a few minutes. He even flushed to be more convincing.

The man didn’t even look up as Oliver made his way back to his seat.

Success. Complete and total success.

Oliver sat smugly down in his seat, rebuckled his seat belt and dug into his backpack for his portable DVD player. He couldn’t wait to see what was on the disc – he wouldn’t wait. He plugged in his headphones and slid the disc in, holding his breath excitedly.

His eyes were wide as saucers as he waited for the disc to load.

What would it be?

Secret government codes?

Information on the whereabouts of terrorists?

He couldn’t wait to find out.

Finally, the video loaded and played and……

Teletubbies. He was watching the Teletubbies.

Oliver let out a disappointed breath as he watched the colorful characters bounce around the screen.

His Aunt looked over at him.

“Aren’t you a little old for that?” she asked.

“Yeah,” he answered. “I am.”

Viciously, he shoved the disc into his backpack and put the DVD player away. He couldn’t believe he’d been so stupid. Just an average run-of-the-mill businessman probably, bringing a DVD back for his kid to watch. And Oliver had built him up in his mind to be some sort of superspy.

He spent the rest of the flight pointedly not watching the man from whom he’d stolen the children’s DVD.

But he couldn’t help but focus on the man once more as they deplaned, tourists wandering around the terminal like lost sheep. It was something in the way the man moved – it just drew Oliver’s eyes like a magnet.

Oliver watched as the man made his way towards a similarly-suited man. They didn’t stop to talk to each other. They didn’t even make eye contact. And no one, other than Oliver was paying attention to them. But he watched florescent light gleaming on silver as a disc made its way out of one briefcase, slipping neatly, almost invisibly into the pocket of the other. The hand-off was smooth – he almost missed it, and he’d been watching closely.

And Oliver watched, open-mouthed, as his businessman turned to look directly at him. The man in the black suit gave him a small smile and a two-finger salute.

And then he was gone, melting into the crowd like smoke.

Image courtesy of:

http://www.morguefile.com/

February 23, 2015

Hi guys,

I don’t exactly have it all together today, so here’s another old one, written for a contest prompt:

Oliver hated the airport. It was his first time there, but he was pretty certain the feeling would stick.

At age eleven, he was too young to travel on his own, but certainly old enough to want to. Maybe, he thought, he’d like the airport better if he didn’t have Aunt Alice with him.

Then at least he could explore – see whatever there was to see in this place. Although as far as he could tell, all there was to see was chairs and angry people rushing back and forth.

He glanced over at his Aunt. She sat calmly in the chair next to him, nose in her novel, wearing her ‘comfortable airport shoes’ with her hair swept up in a ponytail. She was thirty-two, but she might as well be 75 for all the fun she let him have.

Ostensibly, they were taking this lovely weekend trip because she wanted to spend more time with her favorite nephew (read: her only nephew). Oliver wasn’t stupid. He knew she’d agreed to take him on the trip because his parents wanted a weekend of ‘alone’ time together.

Not that he wanted to think about it.

Bleh.

Trying to scrub his mind clean of ‘alone time’ images, he returned his gaze to the chairs – and some movement caught his attention out of the corner of his eye.

Not that there wasn’t movement. People were rushing by all the time. But this was different. This guy was just a guy in a suit carrying a briefcase, like a bajillion other guys in the airport.

This guy moved differently. It was like he glided instead of walking. There was something smooth and oily in his movement. Oliver wondered, just for a moment, if the guy had something to hide.

And in that moment, Oliver decided to follow him.

He stood up and got a whole two steps away. The book came down from in front of her face, revealing two brown eyes.

“Where are you going?” she asked.

“I’m just going to the bathroom, Aunt Alice.”

“All right,” she said. “But be careful. Don’t take too long.”

“Yes, Aunt Alice,” he said.

He’d come back when he wanted to and not sooner. But he wasn’t going to tell her that.

The book moved back up to cover her eyes and he jogged away from her, trying to catch up to the man in the black suit.

Oliver kept his distance, not wanting to get caught. But when the man in the black suit turned into a long, dark hallway off of the main concourse, Oliver saw. He turned into the same hall, keeping to the shadows along the wall so that he wouldn’t be noticed.

But he saw as the man walked all the way down the end of the hall, a seeming dead end with locked doors. He didn’t open the doors. Oliver watched as the man reached into an almost-invisible crack in the wall and pulled out something silvery – a disc, Oliver realized, as he watched it gleaming silver in the low lighting.

The man tucked the disc into his briefcase and made his way back along the hall. Oliver ducked out of the hallway as quickly as he could. And he kept following the man, as he walked all the way back to Oliver’s gate, planting himself in a chair and leaning back, dropping his briefcase into the seat beside him. Like he was just a normal businessman, on a normal trip. Like a million other guys in that same airport.

Oliver knew better. He knew now that he was looking at a spy. And he intended to find out what the man was up to. Oliver was going to find out what was hidden on that disc.

To be continued….

Image courtesy of:

http://www.morguefile.com/

February 20, 2015

Sorry guys… Took me a while today, but I actually really like what I ended up with. Happy Friday, everyone!

It was a little surprising… any job could get boring eventually. She hadn’t thought this one ever would. After all, she was working with an exciting new technology and she was helping people, right?

Helping them to experience the best part of their lives again. For a price, of course. Although pricing wasn’t really her department – that was handled well before they ever walked through the door.

Nah – she was more security and maintenance. What you’d call a maintenance technician.

It wasn’t a hard job, really. Just monitor the individual chambers. Make sure the people in the pods were comfortable, that they weren’t reacting badly to the injections. Or to their own experiences.

That happened more often than she’d like to admit. People freaking out over their own memories.

Mostly, though, it was quiet.

She turned her big, white, standard-issue mug around in her hands. It had left a coffee-ring on the white desk. The coffee stain and the less-than-clean mug were the only dingy things in the semi-dark control room, and those were her fault.

They were really very good about keeping everything pristine. It wasn’t a medical procedure, exactly, but it was close enough. And the clients still felt better coming into a sterile environment.

Everything was kept clean, even if the clients never saw her little control-room-cubby-hole. She kept the lights dim as well. The chambers were kept semi-dark – it was more conducive for the experience, and she found that walking into the brightly lit control made her head hurt.

The wall of streaming video showed each of the chambers live, each occupying its’ own square of the screen. She could see each of the residents, tucked inside a cushioned, white pod, eyes closed, seemingly asleep. If she looked closely, zooming in on their faces, she could see their eyes leaping beneath their eyelids, as though deep in REM sleep.

It was not exactly dreaming, but it was very similar, so the body reacted the same way. Most clients found the experience restful. Frequently, an entire shift would go by without encountering any problems. She would greet the clients only when it was time to show them out of the pods, walking them out of the rooms, sleepy-head and stumbly. Usually they were docile.

The ones who caused problems were mostly the sleep-walkers. Or those whose memories were particularly volatile – you never really knew what to expect, even from your own mind. And that was why she had emergency button – just one little push and big, burly security guards would come crashing through those white doors to subdue any unruly sleepers. She hadn’t encountered any truly violent ones, but a few of the other techs had.

The technology was relatively new, but it appeared to have no adverse effects. It wasn’t exactly time travel, but it was the closest they’d gotten, thus far.

She focused on the man in Chamber 4. She’d noticed him entering the facility, and now she pulled up his visuals, allowing him to fill the entire screen. He was an old man, with gray hair tufting around his head like a strange, disarrayed halo, and a cane that he’d left leaning against the outside of the pod.

This was the best part. This was why she had taken the job, although, as a lowly technician, she wasn’t really supposed to look…. She always looked anyway. She hit the button and the image flipped.

She could no longer see the old man, which seemed reasonable, since she was seeing from his point of view. A broad green lawn filled the screen, covered in white wooden folding chairs. The breeze ruffled the big white bows tied on each of the chairs, as well as the hair of the guests sitting in them, lifting bangs off foreheads and making the loose ends of ladies’ wraps twirl like banners. People were dressed in their finest – pastel dresses and sharp navy suits, and every face was turned expectantly towards her.

Or him, rather, since it was the old man’s memory.

And, of course, in it, he was no longer old. No longer bent.

He was a young man, walking down the aisle on his wedding day, forty-eight years ago, with his wife, then wife-to-be, smiling a nervous smile, wearing the white gown that he’d hand down to their granddaughter someday.

The technology might be new, but it was quite fantastic – the entire experience was simulated, pulled from the man’s memory.

She knew, as she was watching, that he could feel the breeze against his cheeks, that if he looked up, he’d be squinting against the sunlight. That when he took his wife’s hand he’d be able to feel her fingers against his own, feel the long-ago softness of her skin.

It was moments like these that made her job worthwhile.

She watched as he set one foot in front of the other, walking slowly, solemnly down the aisle. She couldn’t see it, but she was fairly certain he had a big, wide grin on his face. He looked at his wife and saw that she had tears in her eyes, glimmering bright blue on the sunny day, as she looked at him.

This was the moment he had wanted. To see her again, smiling and young and happy, at the beginning of everything. It wasn’t that he hadn’t loved her at the end – he’d loved her beginning, middle, end and beyond. But he wanted this; to see her again. To feel the flutter in his stomach on his wedding day, knowing all that was to come.

He breathed deeply and he walked, moving forward, in the memory, with more ease than he’d had in years in the real world, and taking her hand in his.

It had its’ limits, of course. You could only re-experience the original memory. You couldn’t, for example, decide you didn’t want to get married and go bolting off down the aisle. The serum simulated the memory perfectly, but you could only experience that memory, as it was.

There were people who were disappointed. The things that had seemed so bright and wonderful in retrospect… well, they seemed less-than-great when experienced again. Maybe you’d find that the cake from your seventh birthday wasn’t as sweet as you’d thought it was. That your first boyfriend wasn’t as kind as you’d remembered him being. People usually found that Disney World was a lot hotter and smellier than it had seemed when they were eight.

It wasn’t perfect.

You couldn’t simply say you wanted to be sixteen again. But you could go back to your sixteenth birthday. Or your first kiss (she wouldn’t recommend that one… it never turned out the way you wanted it to).

You couldn’t go back to your childhood. But you could go back to the time you visited your Grandma’s farm when you were seven.

The injections were….. they were complicated. They didn’t always work. And they didn’t always bring you what you wanted when they did.

A lot like life, she supposed.

But every now and then…

when they worked …

when you picked the right memory….

It was something beyond magic, the ability to stop time, to go back to a moment of pure happiness, for however long that happiness lasted.

Every now and then, it was perfect.

And that was a lot like life, too, she thought.

Writing Prompt:

(write for) 10 minutes * description * lost in my memories

(obviously exceeded the time on that….)

Writing Prompt Courtesy of:

http://panthermoon.com/generators/generator5.php

Image Courtesy of:

http://www.morguefile.com/

February 19, 2015

Why is it that everything somehow looks worse in the middle of the night? More threatening, somehow. The world seemed to manufacture shadows, dull fuzzy blobs of darkness that trailed her down the hallway and into the kitchen.

Everything looked worse. The normally cheerful couch somehow managed to look broken-hearted and just plain sad, if a couch could be said to be broken-hearted. And the carpet looked drab and gray. Ok, to be fair, the carpet was drab and gray – the night wasn’t having much impact on that one.

She was certain that the bags under her eyes looked about three sizes larger than they normally did, darker and heavier. She was certain that they looked purple and bruise-like, even worse against her pasty white skin, which had paled to a shade she’d probably call middle-of-the-night white.

Never look at yourself in a mirror in the middle of the night, dear reader. There’s nothing to be gained there.

You think gremlins are the only ones who become less attractive after midnight?

Clearly, you’ve never seen yourself, hair bedraggled, zombie-eyed, face middle-of-the-night white…. Quite frankly, it’s just better not to.

So she wasn’t looking in a mirror. She knew better than that. But the strange, glowing light from the refrigerator wasn’t doing her any favors.

The hours tossing and turning had led her here, to this crossroads.

It didn’t look promising.

Some carrot sticks of questionable age and quality.

Some celery that she probably should’ve thrown out a week ago.

Some yogurt that looked about as cheerful as she felt.

Some prepackaged lunch meat.

And… cupcakes. Sitting in their airtight Tupperware container like obedient children waiting to be taken to school. Double chocolate banana cupcakes with peanut butter frosting. Elvis cupcakes, she’d called them, when she’d brought the batch to work. These were the stragglers.

She could pretend to debate in her head. Pretend that there were calmer, wiser voices at work in the back of her mind, shouting, “Take the Greek yogurt!” or “Wouldn’t those carrots be good with the hummus?” or “You should really be concerned about your blood sugar!”

Maybe those voices were present. She pretended to mull it over in the freakish glow of the refrigerator light.

“Screw it,” she said, reaching for a cupcake.

Writing Prompt:

(write for) 10 minutes * conflict * nocturnal

Image Courtesy of:

http://www.morguefile.com/

February 17, 2015

It was just a desk.

Just a piece of furniture.

Not threatening or scary in the least.

At least, this was what she told herself. But she still approached it slowly, the way one would walk towards a cornered animal. The desk belonged to this place more than she did – she knew that. It lorded over the apartment like some sort of dark prince. It had stood in the corner of the bedroom for time immemorial.

Well, perhaps not time immemorial exactly… She supposed Great-Aunt Lily had purchased it as a young woman, right after she moved to New York. It had been her very first purchase with her very first paycheck – she hadn’t had a couch or a table or a real dresser, but she bought the desk first. And from what she remembered of Aunt Lily, that seemed right. The woman had ruled with an iron fist – always organized. Always prepared. And the desk had always been off-limits. A dragon in a dress, they’d called her, although never to her face.

She didn’t have many memories of the desk, but the ones she had were enough. She remembered walking toward the desk, just curious, to have a steely grip clamp around her wrist, spinning her around.

“Not for you,” her Aunt would hiss. “Not for children.”

The desk had always been off-limits, even as she grew older. And now that Aunt Lily was gone, she still halfway expected a heavy hand on her shoulder, a painful grip on her wrist.

So she approached carefully.

Quite honestly, she wasn’t even sure why Great-Aunt Lily had left her the place. Because she’d never had any kids? Because she was the least objectionable of the grand-nieces and nephews, she supposed. It was a blessing Lily had never had kids – she honestly pitied any child raised here.

They’d been forced to visit Aunt Lily every now and then and that had been enough. No matter how high they’d raised the thermostat, the place had never seemed anything but cold. Going back to school after a weekend there felt like an escape from prison.

She’d cleaned out the whole apartment – folded and donated the clothes, sorted through various kitchen accoutrements and everything else. She’d even mopped the floors. This was all that was left.

For as long as it had taken her to get to, the desk proved surprisingly anticlimactic. Old bank statements, an expired life insurance policy. Some old birthday cards. Unsurprisingly, the desk was as organized as everything else and it didn’t take very long until the last drawer was cleared out.

She’d pulled out the last sheaf of papers – a pack of old grocery store receipts, paper clipped together – when she saw the yellowed envelope stuck in a corner of the drawer, snagged tight by a join in the wood.

It took a little wriggling, but finally the sheet came unstuck. The paper was old and soft, as though it’d been read many times. Whatever it was, it meant something.

Lily’s name and address were carefully written in faded blue ink, but it wasn’t her New York address. It was an address in Iowa – probably one that didn’t even exist anymore. The house where her Grandmother and Great-Aunt had grown up. The one she’d never seen – it had been sold before she’d been born.

The same blue ink continued on the inside, in careful, masculine handwriting.

“Dear Lil,

I know you well enough to know that you won’t come back to me. Hopefully, you know me well enough to know that I have to try. Maybe that’ll count for something. I know you’re leaving – you’ve always been leaving, in one way or another, on to something bigger and better.

And this you’re going so far that I won’t be able to catch you. I know that’s on purpose – maybe it’ll be easier to forget me that way. And maybe you can try to forget me. Maybe if you don’t have to be here, you’ll be able to forget me, but I doubt it.

And I want you to know that it doesn’t matter how far you go…. I’ll be here waiting for you to forgive me. I still wake up every day with the scent of your hair on my pillow. I still hear your voice calling my name.

I want you to know that however far you run, I’ll always be waiting here for you. My home will always be your home and there will never be a day in my life when I don’t miss you.

I know it doesn’t change anything, but wherever you go, know that I love you. And that I always will.”

The letter was signed, simply “William.”

She didn’t know who William was, or whether he was even still alive. She’d known that Aunt Lily had moved to New York when she was young, completely on her own. She’d never known why… Honestly, she’d never thought to ask why.

And now she couldn’t stop asking… Who was William? What had he done? Was he the reason she’d run to New York? The reason she’d spent her entire life alone? Had she loved him?

She’d never felt sorry for her Great-Aunt before, living alone in that dusty old apartment.

No life, she thought, is ever a single story. And the saddest ones are those left unfinished.

Writing Prompt:

Desk, nervous, find.

Prompt Courtesy of:

http://shortstoryideas.herb.me.uk/random.htm

Image Courtesy of:

http://www.morguefile.com/

February 16, 2015

Hi guys,

This was a contest submission a little while ago. Kind of an anti-valentine’s day story, if you will…

“This is not my job,” I mutter under my breath, as I pry open the lid on the paint can.

“What was that you said?”

Denise’s voice is sugary sweet. She’s not fooling anybody.

“Nothing.”

“I think this will be good for you,” she says. “I’ve always thought this was character-building.”

A wide toad-like grin spreads across her face as I look up at her, trying not to scowl openly. She’s not even a good liar. She’s only making me do this because she knows it makes me miserable.

The costume shop was empty, so I had pulled out a book – studying for midterms – and she’d caught me. And apparently, in that moment, repainting the chipped and scratched break room door became the highest priority. One that I would need to attend to right away.

I opened the step-ladder, set the can of paint on it and dipped the paintbrush. As I made the first stroke, I heard the crinkle of a candy bar.

Was she just going to stand there and watch me do this? Because, I might point out, it wasn’t exactly the most efficient use of her precious time.

I turned around to see her take a bite of chocolate.

“I think I’ll go enjoy this in my office,” she said. “Keep up the hard work!”

She waddled off down the small hallway, past the bathrooms, to the office, her enormous, sweat-pant covered ass swaying like a giant buoy.

“Evil bitch,” I muttered under my breath. This time she didn’t hear it.

I was left to my painting. It was dead-silent work – I couldn’t hear anything except for the hum and hiss of the heating system. I kept painting – steady brush strokes up and down. And I know this sounds a little crazy, but every now and then, the buzz and hum of the heater… Well, it almost sounded like words.

“I love you,” said a whispered voice.

I looked around me – no one was there.

Great. My own imagination was driving me insane. Not that I should be surprised. It was October – and the closer it got to Halloween, the spookier working in a costume shop got. Especially at night. Not that I was complaining – a paycheck was a paycheck, even if it came from an evil demon of a boss.

I let the steady swish of the brush distract me from the imagined voices.

“It’s all for you,” the voice said. “Everything is for you.”

Stupid heating system, acting up all the time. I’d have to mention it to Denise, unpleasant though that would be.

It was hours later and I was most of the way done painting the damn door when I heard it again.

“It’s done,” the voice said. “It’s all done …. for you.”

My imagination was giving me the heebie-jeebies. I felt a chill run down my spine.

“Stop it,” I told myself out loud. “You are an adult. You are not afraid of a stupid faulty heating system. You will finish painting this stupid door.”

I tried to refocus on the door – I really did. But that stupid imagined voice kept echoing in my head. Luckily, I was almost done. It only took a few more minutes before my ‘character-building’ task was done.

With a heavy sigh, I got up off my knees, where I’d been painting the bottom of the door, and dusted off my jeans, which were now filthy from sitting on the floor. Paintbrush in hand, I went to inform Her Royal Highness Denise that the door was painted, so that I could finally clock out and go home.

Strange, I thought, as I walked down the hallway. Her door was closed. It was hardly ever closed. But I was too tired to care.

I probably should’ve knocked, but I was tired and cranky. I put my hand on the knob – it wasn’t locked.

The door swung open with a creak – she’d be having me oil that next, I supposed – and a large conspicuous white blob dripped from the end of the paintbrush onto the floor. I must not have cleaned the brush as well as I thought I had.

Shit.

Now I’d have to clean that up too. With an angry swipe, I pulled my bangs back off of my forehead to glare at Denise….

Only… Only…. she wasn’t there. Not really. An ungainly pile of flesh, disturbingly pink and still slumped where Denise had been sitting. Her head had flopped back and I could see the stripe on her neck where she was garroted.

I touched my own neck in some strange sympathy as I swallowed the lump in my throat and took a step closer. The unwrapped candy bar was sitting on her desk. I could see the chocolate stains on her fingers and I could imagine how she felt, waiting to take another bite.

I leapt about a foot up into the air when I heard a noise – just a small, squeaky sound. I tried to swallow down my fear as I realized it was only a heating vent, swinging on its hinge – a dark gap in the ceiling tiles. Whatever happened – it was fast. She didn’t have a chance to scream.

I took another gulp of air and another step closer to the desk. I was desperately trying not to look at the body, and my eyes were drawn to a piece of paper on the desk – just a standard piece of 8 by11 printer paper.

But the words on it made my blood run cold, marked out in sharp, angry handwriting – minimalist, as though the marks were slashes of a sword and not mere ink.

It said “For you.”

Prompt:

Genre:  Suspense
Location:  A costume shop
Object:  A paintbrush
Image Courtesy of:

February 13, 2015

Hi,

I’ve been taking this week off for personal reasons (any of you know me well know why), but I did want to post something for Valentine’s day. I’m not currently in a relationship, but that doesn’t stop me from writing romantic mush…. So, here, in honor of Valentine’s day, is a little ditty. It’s largely un-edited, so you’ll forgive me if the meter is off. It’s also a bit cheesy and silly…. hopefully you’ll forgive me for that, too. Personally, I think it works so much better if you sing it, but I suppose you’ll be the judge:

“So…. what are you like, really?”

******

I’m like the entrance,

When all you could find is the exit door.

I’m the last slice of pizza…

I keep you coming back for more.

I’m the final button

That fell off your favorite sweater.

The one you found in the wash last week.

That you thought was lost forever.

I’m the hour you thought you’d lost

When all you needed was time to spare.

I’m the comb hidden in your pocket

When you’ve forgotten to brush your hair.

I’m the word that wouldn’t come

When what you needed was a rhyme.

And I’m the perfect alibi

Backing up your perfect crime.

Together we’re like the Garden of Eden

Without all those stupid snakes in the grass

We’re like Benedict Cumberbatch

The perfect actor with the perfect ass.

We’re the perfect salsa

All the spice without the burn

We’re like the theory of evolution

We’re the monkey who finally learned!

You and me – we’re like peanut butter and jam

But without all those yucky seeds.

We’re like Hercules (but a lot brighter)

Gettin’ done those mighty deeds.

You and me, we go together.

We’re like Meriweather and Clark

You and me, we’re not just a couple.

We’re the inspiration that lights the spark.

You and me, when we’re together

We’re the battery that never stops.

Because I am not the bottom.

We’re both the tops.

******

Also, it has only recently occurred to me that people might not recognize the reference I’m making. If you don’t know the original song I’m referring to, here’s a good rendition of it (obviously, I don’t own this material):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WLY2BylN6oA

Image courtesy of:

http://www.morguefile.com/