Happy Friday internet people! It’s been a few weeks since I posted one of these. Hope you like it and let me know what you think in the comments!
Distracted Driving – By Adam Wright
Kevin’s pickup truck rattled down the highway. The black asphalt and white stripes on the road whizzed by in front of his eyes in a rhythmic pattern. He stretched his arm across the passenger seat and let out a yawn as he stretched.
He was singing along to some eighties song he’d heard a million times before. The name escaped him. Something about a movie he’d never watched. A glance at the clock told him it was near midnight. Another hour on the road would get him home. All he had to do was stay awake.
A sip of coffee might be nice but then he’d need to pull over to pee. No way he’d be able to bring himself to keep driving after. Better to hold it.
His eyes were getting heavy when he saw a flash of white in front of his eyes. It was a barefoot woman in a white dress. She was beautiful with raven hair draped down her shoulders. She was in the middle of the road but when Kevin’s headlights shone at her they seemed to go through her, as if she wasn’t there at all.
Slowing the truck to a crawl, he wiped his eyes and opened them again. There was nothing there. Kevin convinced himself he was just seeing things when a voice rang out next to him.
“Jesus, Deep Blue Something? That band was old when I was still alive. Update your taste.”
Kevin turned to see the woman from the road in his passenger seat. He yanked his arm back and opened his mouth.
“Don’t scream. I’m so damn tired of screaming. Just get used to it. I don’t want to be here any more than you want me to.”
“You’re driving late at night in an old truck on an open road. What did you expect? Yes, I’m a ghost. Happy now? Do you have a cell phone?”
Kevin tried to talk but a squeak came out.
“It’s not a complicated question. I know your truck looks like it’s from the 80’s but people don’t operate without cell phones anymore. I’m hoping to catch up on the news a little. Maybe watch some Tik-Tok videos. Where is it?”
Kevin pointed to the glove box.
“Can you take it out? I’m not solid anymore. Just start up whatever your favorite social media is. I’ll take anything. Hell, even if it’s NPR. Just hit play on something for me.”
“Uh… are you trying to haunt me? Did I do something to you?”
“Nope. Not trying to haunt anyone. Anytime one of these rickety old ass trucks show up out of nowhere, BOOM, I’m in it.”
Kevin jumped at the sound of the word BOOM.
“Don’t be so jumpy. I’m harmless, promise. I’m just bored as hell. The phone, can you?”
“Why are you here?” Kevin was twenty four years old but his voice cracked as he spoke as if he was fifteen.
“Do you want the long story or the short one? Short one’s easier.”
Kevin watched as a car drove towards his truck, the headlights flashing in his eyes for a brief moment.
“Uh.. short one?”
“I died, hoped to get revenge against my boyfriend. It didn’t work out. Now I’m here. Like, forever I guess.”
Kevin stared at the open road. He didn’t make a move toward the glove box.
“Fine, you want the long version. You’ve heard of the asphalt strangler? Yeah, turns out that asshole was my boyfriend. I had no idea. I found some gritty evidence in his truck one day and, well, you can guess what a dude called the asphalt strangler did to me. I swore with my dying breath I’d get revenge on him and next thing you know, I’m on this highway looking for trucks. Can’t help it.”
“Yeah, that’s the part that didn’t work out. The asphalt strangler died of a goddamned heart attack. Can’t get revenge on a guy who is already dead and in hell can you? You’d think that would be the end for me but, oh no, here I am, night after night in random trucks with random dudes. Most of them are poor conversationalists too. Not like you though. I like you.”
“Seriously dude, the phone, like now.”
Kevin kept one eye on the road as he pulled the phone from the glove box. He looked away for the briefest of seconds.
The world moved in slow motion as another truck slammed into the driver side door. Kevin felt himself tumbling, and saw his phone fly into the air.
“This is your fault, I’ll get you for this,” he spat the words at the woman in white.
The world went black.
Kevin opened his eyes. He was seated in a pickup truck, not unlike his own. There was a woman dressed in white next to him.
“You wished for revenge. Welcome to the party.” The woman in white turned to the driver. “Do you have a cell phone?”
Just wanted to give you an update on the progress of my book. Right now you can read the first four chapters of it on Chapterbuzz. I’d love for you to take a look and let me know what you think! To read it you should be able to just click the new badge I earned below.
Hey internet people, I’ve got an exciting announcement for you. Today May 10th the third volume of FLASHBANG! is available for purchase on DriveThruFiction.com.
What is FLASHBANG! and why are there three volumes you ask? This is part of a workshop run by the Storytellers Collective. A group of writers was given a prompt a day for the month of February. Then each writer wrote a flash fiction story based on that day’s prompt. At the end of the month the writers chose their best work and submitted stories to be published in this anthology. Editors then curated the anthology. This was the third year this workshop has run so this is the third volume.
Why am I so excited about this? There are over 50 authors who have contributed to this flash fiction anthology so there is going to be at least one story here any reader would love. And I happen to have written one of those stories. Mine is the first story titled The Librarian. But don’t buy this book just for my story. Buy it to support independent authors and to have something great to read. Each story is a thousand words or less so even if you don’t have a lot of time to read, you can take a few minutes, enjoy a story and go on with your day.
For $4.99 I would say you’re getting a great value. I hope you’ll take the time to check it out.
Purchase your copy here or at the banner above. I hope you’ll give it a chance and let me know what you think of the stories once you have read them.
And if you would like to read the story I wrote for the second volume of Flashbang!, titled Space Walk, get it here.
Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy!
(Note that if you do purchase through any of the links at this post I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.)
Let me get right to the point. You probably know me on this blog as Slick Dungeon but my real name is Adam Wright and I have a bit of news to share.
I’ve decided to take the big leap and write a book! It’s an epic fantasy book and I want all of you who read this blog to be able to jump into the action early. I’m still writing the first draft but if you want to read the first chapter as it is now, you can join me on ChapterBuzz. Just click on this link to check it out!
If you join my fan club, you’ll get access to some exclusives in the future such as a prequel chapter to the book, early notification of when it will be published, and any other cool stuff I can think of between now and then.
If you like books like The Wheel of Time series, Lord of the Rings or The Sword of Shannara series, I’m hoping you will like my book.
It’s called The Man of the Daggers. Here’s a little blurb about it.
Feran Stormweather is a dark mage. His family has held off the forces of the Army of Radiance for generations. After Feran sacrifices everything he holds dear to keep his people safe he must go into hiding and becomes known as The Man of the Daggers.
This is still the first draft of the book so plenty may change but I’d love for you to follow along as I go through the challenge of writing the book. I took on the 365 Day writing challenge on ChapterBuzz so I would have a deadline to hold myself accountable. I’m hoping some of you will choose to share in this journey with me and maybe even find you enjoy the story.
Also, if you do like it, feel free to share it, post it etc. to spread the word.
Again, you can read the first chapter already by clicking here and if you click on the ChapterBuzz image above you should be able to join my fan club there if you so choose.
Thanks as always for reading and if you do read any of my book I would love to know what you think.
Happy Friday everyone! I’m back with another Flash Fiction story for you. When I was a kid my dad used to tell me about listening to old radio shows. One of the most popular of those was a show called The Shadow. This story was inspired by listening to one of those episodes. After the story, I’ll also point you to a great YouTube channel where you can actually listen to old archives of these shows. Hope you like the story and let me know what you think in the comments!
Radio Hour – By Adam Wright
Agnes adjusted the knobs on the radio, sailing past the static, twisting and tuning until the sound came in clearly. The large wooden box was still new but she had gotten used to sitting next to it every evening while she knitted. She looked out the window and saw the stars were out, the moon hanging low in the sky.
There was an advertisement, something about what kind of coal to buy. It reminded her she needed to tend the fire so she poked at it a bit, letting the warmth grow. She settled back in her chair and picked up her knitting needles.
A narrator began the program. “Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows.”
Agnes picked up where she had left off, her long fingers moving deftly as what was once a ball of yarn grew into the beginnings of a scarf. She would need it for these cold nights when the fires grew low.
On the program, the hero was some kind of hypnotist. Listening to the sounds coming through the airwaves she was able to picture everything that was happening. The sounds of a door closing, a phone ringing. The radio was a marvel. Like living inside a book. She didn’t mind the story was a little silly, she just wondered how they were able to make it seem so real.
Soon the hero was in a battle for the control of his own mind. A rival hypnotist nearly got the better of him but the hero won out in the end. She smiled to herself as the next program began. It was a dance program. You were supposed to find a partner and waltz right from the comfort of your own living room. Well, when she got herself a partner she might just try it. For now, she was content to listen.
She glanced out the window again but this time it wasn’t the stars she noticed. There was the shape of a man. He was standing in the hedges peering in. Agnes froze. The man moved closer to the window. Like the hero on the program before, Agnes was determined to keep her head about her.
The man must not have seen Agnes because he started to slide the window open. She saw something in his hand. It was black and heavy. A gun. She waited until the man had crawled halfway inside the room. Before the man could react she moved forward, knitting needle in hand and jabbed at his eye. She hit it. The man looked at her with shock as he stumbled back out of the window.
She knew she should have been afraid but she wasn’t. She phoned the police station to let them know about the intruder. When they caught the man they asked Agnes how she had kept her cool during the whole affair. Her answer was simple. “I know what evil lurks in the hearts of men.”
Want to Hear some Old fashioned Radio?
If you do, check out this YouTube channel called The Late Late Horror Show. They have a bunch of great stuff for late night listening.
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Happy April everyone! It’s the first of the month and a Flash Fiction Friday. I decided to play around with second person point of view for this one. Read to the end and let me know what you think in the comments!
The Fate of the World Rests in Your Hands – By Adam Wright
As you check your mail, you notice a letter and you stop in your tracks. Your armor jingles slightly as you move toward the table, the links clattering together. Looking down you notice the parchment on the tray is fresh and it appears to be written in the script of the King’s handwriting. His intricate seal holds the contents in place. It has been months since you were home and now, already, you are called to serve again.
You know you must answer this call. It could be anything from an invitation to dine with him, to an order to go back into the marshy fields, wading your way across miles of broken bodies, and leading more men to their doom. Before you pick up the letter you remove your helmet. Your gauntlets are removed by your trusty servant Roric. He moves to assist with the rest of your armor but you wave him off; this letter is too important to wait.
You tear open the seal, breaking through the wax depicting a lion holding a shield. The letter is long and a feeling of dread washes down your core, leaving you with beads of sweat trickling down your face. You think again of the restless nights, trying to defend against all enemies. You think of the cold nights you have spent, stirring at the slightest sound, always coiled to react in case your next action might become your last. You think of the stench of battles, the sound of steel clashing against steel, the sound of screams and pain. You think of all the crimson blood you have seen wash past your feet. You are not sure you can do this again.
You skim through the letter, past the initial greetings and compliments the King is so fond of using. Looking through the words you start to wonder if the King has gone mad. He is ordering you not only to take on another battle but to lead men into battles they are surely outmatched for. A thousand years and a million souls would not be enough to defeat the enemy. This is not a question of if men will die, but if any, at all, will survive.
The men you have been fighting, if indeed they can be called men, have an army so large that it cannot be numbered. Your spies have returned with reports they are performing rituals and acts that would summon creatures from the depths of Hell itself. The few spies who have returned have come back barely retaining their senses. Most of them have died by their own hand shortly after returning. And the King wants you to bring the fight to the enemy.
The letter tells you that you have one night to prepare. Only one. Your men need more rest. Immediately you start to think about who you should ask to fight with you and who you should let stay. You think of the men who might have come home to find themselves new fathers. The men who have returned to find a mother or father has passed while they were away. And of the men who are now so injured a return to battle is not possible for them. You decide how many of them you will let stay home. The answer is none.
This fight has been going on for as long as anyone can remember. It predates you and it predates your King. This effort might all be wasted. The battle will never cease. Yet the things you have seen give you pause. Creatures that could not be named, leaping from shadows, tearing with jagged claws and razor teeth. Shadows that looked like nothing more than simple darkness reaching out in physical form to wrap hands around throats until men were lifeless. You are asked to return to this. To stop this before it comes home to take your wife, your child, your mother and all those you care for. You know you must answer the call. You know you must put soldiers, warriors, mages, spies, even rogues and barbarians in harm’s way.
If anyone but your King had asked you to do this, you would refuse. Roric waits patiently for any reply you care to make. Initially you want to reply the King can damn himself to Hell. To tell him he should be the one to lead these men into battle. It should be his horse to travel all the miles you must be carried. You think of telling him what horrors will await him if he was to find his own courage and bring his own might into battle.
You give yourself a moment. You take a deep breath. You are about to craft your reply. Roric has a quill in his hand before you even ask for one. As you realize there is only one reply possible, you will fight the forces of darkness no matter the cost, a visitor approaches your door.
A woman in a forest green gown holds a paper in her hand.
“What is it?” you bellow.
“My Lord, a notice from Zack, er, His Grace the King, has arrived for you.” She gives a slight bow.
“I know, I have just read it. I am preparing my men as fast as I can, however the night is short and we are to march to battle soon.” You expect this reply to be enough and for the woman to leave. Yet she remains.
Dumbfounded, you stare at her. What could be so important she would interrupt your preparations? And the gall of this woman, addressing your very King by his first name as if he were some commoner. You wonder if she too might be a spy for the enemy. However, you wait patiently, for she must have some reason for being here.
“Well, out with it. Why are you here?” you demand.
“Well, it’s like this Alex, er, I mean, my Lord. Zack, er, His Grace, the King, says we have to postpone.”
“Postpone? But he has just ordered me to attack. Why would we postpone? We don’t have much going for us but a renewed attack might be enough of an advantage to save us all. I was not overly fond of the plan at first, but it has its merits.” You wait for an answer.
“It’s just that the rain has come down so hard the road is washed out and now the state troopers are saying everyone in the area has to head home for shelter. Zack says we can reschedule, to say three weeks from now? The Live Action Role Play committee says we have to go due to safety concerns but we can call this one a draw since the allotted time hasn’t technically completed.”
You stare at the woman for a moment. You want to explain to her all that is at stake. All that is necessary to save the world from the forces of darkness. Just as you are about to refuse to leave, you realize you need to get your parking validated or you will be charged for an overnight stay even though it is only six in the evening.
You decide the battle must wait for three weeks and plan to watch for an email from Zack… er, His Grace, the King to confirm the details.
Welcome to Flash Fiction Friday! I hope you enjoy the story and feel free to let me know what you think in the comments!
The Letter – By Adam Wright
Jim Targus held the envelope pinched between his thumb and forefingers. He held it as far away from his face as his arms would reach. Even at that distance it was still easy to read the bold block letter typescript on the front.
THE BUREAU OF EXISTENTIAL AFFAIRS.
He had waited most of his twenty one years of life to receive this letter. Days spent dreaming and imagining what the future would be. The paper felt rough on his fingers. He took a deep breath, folded it up into neat fourths and stuck it into the back pocket of his jeans.
The sun was bright and Jim squinted as he looked down the street of his suburban neighborhood. No one seemed to be out but there were sprinklers spraying the lawns of a few houses. Cars wouldn’t be arriving home from workplaces for hours. Jim loved the quiet summer weekdays. He hummed softly to himself as he walked to Angela’s door. She’d want to know he had received it. They’d made a pact to share it if either one of them got it. Jim wondered if Angela had received hers yet.
Her house was one of those newer models, the kind with the alarm that told the occupants who was at their door before they even arrived. It was all some complicated algorithm that predicted people’s movements. Jim had never quite grasped the science of it. The house was yellow with green trim. Angela and Jim agreed it was the worst color combination imaginable for a house. They had spent hours trying to convince her father to repaint. Jim smiled at the memory.
Even though everyone inside would know it was him, Jim went through the exercise of knocking on the door anyway. He supposed it was habit. They wouldn’t have minded if he just entered but Jim’s mother always insisted on manners.
Angela came out to the door and Jim, as always, was struck by her raven hair and dark brown eyes. Eyes the color of coffee with just the right amount of cream. Soft eyes. Caring eyes.
“Why hello, stranger.” Angela threw her arms around him as if they hadn’t seen each other yesterday.
Jim hugged her back and let her scent wash over him for the briefest of moments. Then he stepped back and gave her his best grin.
“Hiya, Angela, how ya doin’?” Jim gave her a mock salute and she saluted back with a laugh.
“Why, I’m fine, Jim. What brings you all the way out here to my neck of the street?”
Jim held up his left hand in a signal to wait and then with his right he pulled out the letter.
“It is. Have you gotten yours? You remember our pact, now.”
“How could I forget? I think we were five when we started that lemonade stand and you started telling me how you were going to get to go to outer space once you got your letter.”
“That we were. And I still remember how the lemonade took hours to wash out of my hair when I told you no girls were allowed on my spaceship. We’ve come a long way, haven’t we?”
Angela didn’t say anything. She just smiled and gave Jim a little punch in the arm.
“Did you get yours?” he asked.
“I’m afraid not. Are you going to open yours or are we waiting for mine?”
“Well, I’m not sure. Do you want to be the first person to see what a famous outer space explorer I’m gonna make? Or should we wait and be the first couple to be accepted to the program at the exact same time?”
“The Bureau’s pretty strict about these sorts of things. You’re supposed to open it the instant you get it. You know that. I hope you haven’t jeopardized your chances.”
“Okay fine, I just wanted you to be here for the big reveal. You know, I’d be lost without you. All those years studying together. What a lunkhead I would be without you.”
Angela rolled her eyes. She looked pointedly at the envelope.
“Alright, alright, hold your horses.”
Jim tore across the top of the envelope, ripping the paper in jagged lines. He pulled out the folded piece of paper inside. As he was about to unfold it and read it, Angela touched his hand. She looked at him with those coffee brown eyes. Jim could feel alive inside those eyes. He could live forever as long as she looked at him.
“Wait there a second. Let me go get something first, okay? Promise me you won’t read it without me?” she asked.
“Whatever you say, sweetheart.” Jim gave another mock salute.
Angela disappeared into the house. Jim heard her footsteps pad up the stairway. The paper felt heavy in his hands. Surely, it would be fine to open it. Angela would never know he had read it without her. What was the harm? The rules were supposed to be strict but how would they know when he read his?
Jim read the words.
We regret to inform you that your existence is not essential. You will be erased from this existence shortly. Please stand by.
The truth hit Jim’s mind like a thunderclap. He was not needed. For anything. There would be no Angela, no outer space. Just nothing. He watched as his hands began to fade away, the paper dropping from his fingers and fluttering to the ground.
As Angela came to the door, clutching her letter, she burst outside. She knew she had wanted to show the letter to someone. She was proud of the proclamation on it.
You have been deemed essential and will be allowed to pursue your desired career of space exploration. Congratulations.
She looked outside but there was no one standing there. Why had she come out here? She looked down and saw a piece of paper fluttering in the wind. It looked like a letter.
Welcome to my third Flash Fiction Friday! This story was inspired by an old episode of The Twilight Zone. Let me know what you think of it in the comments! Hope you enjoy it!
A Little More Time – by Adam Wright
In the aftermath of the bomb the world was silent. The loudest sound was the crack of his lenses as his heel stepped on his glasses. He could only make out the world in blurs of different shapes and colors.
He had crushed his only reason for living. The books remained stacked on the library steps unread and innumerable. Even so, he kept on living for no other reason than he had nothing else to do.
Days were spent foraging for food. It wasn’t really foraging. There was plenty of food to be found in local markets, neighbor’s houses, restaurants, almost anywhere. The foraging was guessing what it was he was about to eat. A blur of yellow in a can might be peaches or pineapples. Brown was likely beans. He was never sure until he opened the can. What he didn’t want he left out for the animals. They were few and far between. He supposed there were still plenty of insects but he couldn’t see them.
Days turned into weeks. Then months. Years maybe? He marked them off with chalk in huge hash marks on a blackboard in an empty school. He soon ran out of space but there were still more classrooms. He tried remembering the stories he loved and writing them out on the chalkboard. He was never sure if he got it quite right. They were all a jumble in his head and he would think to check in a book to see if it matched and then remember. He couldn’t read them anymore. Shakespear would have to die along with him.
One evening he watched as a blur moved toward him. It had the vague outline of a man but it didn’t walk like one. It moved faster. The sun was setting so he guessed it was a trick of the light, something playing out on the horizon with his eyesight. Or, more likely, he was finally driven mad from the isolation and boredom.
The next night he saw it again. Closer this time. He walked toward it, hope sparking once again in his heart. If there was another person, maybe they knew some stories. Or a way he could find a new pair of glasses. He could have them guide him all over the city until they found a suitable approximation of his lenses.
Just as he was about to approach the shape, he felt a pair of hands wrap around him. There was a piercing pain in his neck, like two sharp needles. The hands let go as he turned around. Whoever grabbed him was already gone. He felt dizzy and sank to his knees. The world went dark.
He didn’t know how long he slept but when he woke it was still dark. And he could see! He could read the signs on the store in front of him. He could make out the headlines on the newspaper stand thirty feet away. He could read again.
He soon learned that the sun burned but the night cooled. He slept while it was bright out and discovered to his amazement that he could read any book he wanted to, as long as it was night. He went through them methodically, one at a time, separated by genre, relishing in the words, loving the way it took his mind to different worlds and places. While he read he could forget almost everything else. He could forget the world was a dead place. He could forget the strange changes to his body, the fangs that now protruded from his mouth that he could see in the mirror.
It was obvious what he was. He read about it in a book written long ago by Brahm Stoker. Even reading that kept his mind off the one other constant he now had. He had all the time he needed to read but he was going to waste away soon.
There was a gnawing, constant hunger in his stomach. The cans of food no longer appealed to him. He tried to eat the food anyway but it just made him sick. He spent hours looking for something to eat. Something living with blood pumping through its veins. He couldn’t even find a squirrel or rabbit.
He had all the books he could ever hope to read and the time to read them. Shakespear was going to die with him anyway. There was no food left, all the humans with their pumping blood had been destroyed in the bomb.
Welcome to my second Flash Fiction Friday. This is a story I wrote called An Apple a Day. I hope you enjoy!
An Apple a Day
Angus Flannagan walked through the door kicking up a cloud of dust. The day was hot and a blast of heat followed him. The store, full of barrels of flour, tools for mining, and sweets for the little ones, was nearly empty except for the man behind the counter. He wore spectacles and suspenders. His nose reminded Angus of a hawk and his eyes were about as beady as one. Angus nodded his hello and pawed through the store.
He placed the hammer, the hatchet, and the rope on the counter.
“Three ninety-five,” the storekeeper announced without looking up at Angus.
“And one of those.” Angus pointed to a barrel of apples, red and juicy.
“‘Twill be a penny more, unless you’re looking to buy five, in which case that’s two pennies. ‘S as good a deal as you’ll find round here.”
“Just the one.” Angus gathered his things and made his way out of the store back into the hot and dusty day. He slung the rope around his shoulder, carried the hatchet in one hand and the hammer in the other. The apple he put in his pocket.
Angus thought about Judith on the way back. She’d been young and beautiful when they first met. She hadn’t said much, only smiled. That suited Angus fine and all he did was smile back. They’d spent a lot of quiet moments together since then, just smiling. Her auburn hair matched well with his shock of red on top and they had gotten along just fine. Just fine. Most days anyway.
They’d had their trouble of course, what couple doesn’t? She did miss her mother though. It took Judith ages to persuade him but Angus agreed to have the woman sent for. Within a fortnight Mrs. Sally Winthrop had arrived on a fancy carriage drawn by two black horses. Nevermind that Angus didn’t have space nor seed to feed the animals. Didn’t have much use for a fancy carriage either. Still, they made do. Angus was good at odd jobs and didn’t mind the sting of a hard day’s work on his hands now and again.
Every week he would go into town, get the tools he needed, go to some neighbor and patch a roof, or fell a tree or whatever had been needing done. Word soon spread that Angus was a handy fellow to have around. And although he would never say it out loud to anyone, Angus supposed he was pretty handy.
A year passed, then another, then another and soon a strapping baby boy was born. Mrs. Sally Winthrop was none too interested in the child, although she did admit he was a handsome one. What Mrs. Sally Winthrop wanted most was for the child to be silent at night, so that she could get some sleep. No matter what they did, the child would wake at all hours, crying his lungs out. Feeding helped some and there had been the occasion where a small swig of brandy had made its way into the child’s milk at night. Those had been rare but Angus understood the necessity of it. If it kept his mother-in-law happy, he supposed it was none too harmful.
Judith had found it difficult though. Angus was gone a lot of the time tending to his odd jobs and Mrs. Sally Winthrop could be a might demanding at the best of times. Angus remembered more than one occasion in which he arrived home to raised voices. It always threw him when he heard Judith yell. Judith who never wanted to be anything but quiet. She loved to read or knit or cook. Sometimes she hummed a little tune but for her to yell, loud enough that Angus could hear it outside? That was some serious arguing in Angus’ opinion.
Mrs. Sally Winthrop’s favorite thing was to argue about the boy. Angus still thought of Pete as “the boy” because that’s what Mrs. Sally Winthrop always called him. Angus supposed it was because he had been the one to name Pete. That must’ve irked Mrs. Sally Winthrop to high heaven. She’d insisted the child be named Marcelus after her father’s father. Considering that Angus didn’t know the man and Judith only had the vaguest of memories of him, they decided against the name. Mrs. Sally Winthrop did not forgive slights or insults easily.
Angus noticed the dust gathering on his boots as he walked. He looked back at the trail he had left. There were footprints that led back to the store. He looked up at the sky and wondered if clouds might roll in soon. It was so hot, though, that it seemed unlikely. Nothing to do about the footprints then. His boots would need a shine but then again, so did everyone’s on a day like this.
The front door was painted red. Angus had painted that door together with Judith. The pair standing next to each other in silence as they worked. It had been the last thing Angus added to the house and he wanted to make sure they had both put it in together. After the hinges were on and the door framed, Judith declared it was in need of some color. It was the same red as the apple that Angus had bought. He knew when he stepped through it this time, there wouldn’t be any arguments.
Judith sat on the couch. Tears fell down her cheeks in silent rivulets. Mrs. Sally Winthrop lay on the floor. There was a red, angry, wound all the way around her neck. Pete sat in the corner, playing quietly by himself.
Angus nodded his hello. Judith tried to smile but it wouldn’t come.
“Judith, sweetheart, you know that she deserved it, don’t you?” Angus asked.
“I never minded the touch of brandy she’d give him, but arsenic, I never thought she’d go that far. I suppose it’ll take a little while to clean this up. How’s your hand?” Angus bent down to look at the bandage she had wrapped around it.
“Still sore a little. She bucked some as I held the rope. She didn’t see me coming from behind but as soon as she felt it, she kicked something fierce.” Judith bowed her head and clutched at Angus.
“Don’t you worry darlin’, no one’s gonna know what you done. I got us some new tools and one of them juicy apples you like so much. I walked an extra two miles outside of town and bought at the first store I saw.” He handed the apple to her and she slipped it into her apron.
For the next hour, Angus worked outside in the hot sun. He had lumber enough to make the wooden box and plenty of nails. The new hammer drove true and the work went faster than Angus had expected. The hatchet was sharp and did its work cleanly. Mrs. Sally Winthrop was laid to rest with little fanfare in front of the house. They had lowered the box into the ground with the same rope that had done the job. After, Angus hung the new rope where the old one had been. As loathe as he was to do it, he tossed in the hatchet and the hammer, perfectly new, into the ground with the box. He buried the spot with dirt. He patched the dirt up and then made rows to plant seed in. It would take a year or two but there would be some fine apple trees just above Mrs. Sally Winthrop.
It was weeks before anyone one noticed her absence in town. Angus did his best to keep things as normal as possible. He did his odd jobs, worked with his neighbors, and came home to Judith and Pete. She sat crying quietly to herself most days. Pete had gotten a lot quieter too. He slept much easier now. He seemed to be the only one.
On the day that the sheriff came to their red door, Angus had been out helping to haul in some lumber. When he arrived back, he had his rope slung around his shoulder. It was still new and unfrayed.
“Angus,” the sheriff nodded.
Angus nodded back.
“People are starting to get worried Angus. No one’s seen Mrs. Sally Winthrop in town for a while. Is she sickly?”
“No sir, she went out to visit some relatives.” Angus hitched up his shoulder to keep the rope from sliding off.
“Looks like you’ve plowed some new ground out here. What are you growing?”
“Some apple trees. You know how Judith likes her apples.”
“I do. I’m sure she’ll appreciate you not having to make a run to town for them.”
“Listen, Angus, some people said they hear some shouting over here on occasion. That so?”
“Pete could get loud some. She didn’t like it and her and Judith tended to argue. That’s why she left. Couldn’t stand the country, or the noise.”
“You mind if I go in and ask Judith some questions?”
“No need for that. She’s laid up with migraine right now. Anything you need to know, I can tell you.”
“Alright. You say Sally left town. I heard there was some arguing. Could be she left town, could be something else happened. I’m wondering a couple things though. No one saw a fancy carriage leave town, like the one she rode in on. Her horses are still here too. Want to explain that?”
“She hired a driver, simple as that.”
The sheriff nodded.
“Collins at the mercantile says he hasn’t seen you in weeks. He told me he’d go out of business if you didn’t come in to buy fresh tools and apples regularly. You been down to the store lately?”
“Can’t say I have. You really need to know all this, Dale?”
“Just my job. When’s the last time you bought some apples for Judith?”
“I don’t know must have been about three weeks ago. She loves them but I haven’t had too much chance to get around lately.”
“Angus, I hate to do this, and this is just a formality, but I’m going to need you to come into town with me. Me and the boys are going to have a few more questions for you. That alright?”
“Can I say goodbye to Judith and Pete first?”
Dale slapped him on the shoulder and gave him a nod.
“You go on and do that. I’ll be right out here.”
Angus went in and held Judith and Pete for a few minutes. He smiled at them and left without a word.
The day that Angus was sentenced for murder was a hot one. Dry and dusty. Angus had made sure that Judith’s name was never mentioned. Most people in town wouldn’t believe Judith capable of something like that anyway. She wasn’t handy the way that Angus was.
Across from him sat a man with a hawk nose and eyes just about as beady as one. When the judge asked how the man was certain that Angus had bought the items they found under the fresh patch of dirt the man was quick with his reply.
“He only bought one apple. No one passes up five for two pennies.”
Hey everyone. If you’re a reader of my blog you may have noticed I didn’t post a lot in February.
Well, there was a reason for that. I was participating in Flash Fiction February so a lot of my writing time was spent on that. I used the prompts in the Storytelling Collective for some of the stories I wrote and I just wrote whatever I wanted on some of the other stories. I’ve submitted a story to be included in Flashbang! Volume III. Once that comes out I’ll link to it here but I thought it might be fun to share a few of my stories on my blog. I can’t promise I’ll be posting one of these ever single Friday but I will when I can. I’m a few stories ahead so for a little while at least, there will be one each Friday.
In case you don’t know, flash fiction is a very short story. It usually means anywhere from 1-1,500 words but not more. I like writing these because the time investment is not too heavy for someone who is working full time.
If you enjoy these stories, or even if you don’t, let me know in the comments, just remember to keep it civilized. I’m totally open to criticism and want to improve so feel free to let me know what you think. If no one enjoys these I probably won’t keep posting but if they go over well, I’ll likely post more stories here.
One last thing to note is these are my stories which I own the copyright to so please no plagiarizing. If you do like them though, please, please feel free to share, reblog, post on your social media and all of that good stuff.
The first story I’m going to share with you is an old one I wrote quite some time ago. But, the prompt of the word Time from last year’s Storytelling Collective Flash Fiction February reminded me of it and it was one of the first stories I wrote that actually felt like a story to me. This one is called Time Served.
I need time, I need money, I need sleep. The train rattles me along as these thoughts thunder in my head. Just out of lock-up and released from parole I head towards my son. I can’t sleep with the sound of the tracks thudding against me. Any money I had is gone. I got extra time for not pleading guilty to something I never done. One man in a red shirt is the same as another to some people. The therapist said I couldn’t let go of my anger until I admitted my wrongdoing. Can’t admit to something I never done. Can’t help being angry they didn’t believe me when I told the truth.
Six years gone. Conviction overturned. I need time, I need money, I need sleep. I wonder if my boy knows me. I wonder if I know him. I wonder why she never visited me. I wonder what happened in all that time. I wonder if I will see wrinkles on her face and bags under her eyes. The train rolls along, steady, steady.
They gave me a pass, said I had no parole but no place to stay, no compensation neither. Just a ticket to anywhere I want to go. I go to my boy. Getting off in Wisconsin, the chill wind hits me like a fist. I pull my cap lower over my ears and start walking. No money left, none for the bus ticket.
My old man was a con. Only my old man was guilty. I saw him take that money, I saw him point the gun. My boy never saw me with no gun never and I don’t want him to. My legs ache from the stretch of walking, so much walking, and I sit down for a minute on a bench. In the yard they let us walk. One hour every day. The only hour of the day my body was allowed to move and feel free. The time my mind brought images of my boy. Safe in the outside world up on the monkey bars, out in the snow, laughing with his friends.
I reach the address I have written down. The paper I hold in my hand is the only letter, only sign of anything I ever got from her in all that time. One letter, one address, one bit of bad news I still can’t process. I don’t want to walk in there. I’m more afraid than I was the day they locked me up for good.
I stamp my feet and walk through the doors. They slide open automatically. The smell hits me. It’s sterile and clean. Going up to the room I pass people in scrubs. I can’t help but think how the guards look the same in their uniforms. They are the people that have access to the outside. They are the ones that can leave all this behind. Not me. Not her. Not my boy. All of us prisoners.
I reach the room and she is in a chair by the bed, a book on her lap. The machines are by him. They loom large like iron gated walls did for me. She looks up. I see the wrinkles, I see the tiredness. She gives me a crooked smile but doesn’t move.
I have been traveling for so long, unable to sleep, unable to think, I don’t know what to say. She lets out a sob. I left off crying long ago.
I wait for her to say something. She never does.
I look at the boy. The machines breathe for him. It’s worse than I had imagined. I was locked in a room but my body was always free to move. I have no scars, just my ink. He has bandages covering all of his scars and bruises. I wasn’t there when it happened. I keep thinking how he always held my hand at the crosswalk. Even when he was too old for it, he always reached for my hand.
“You thought I done it,” I say.
“It would make it easier,” she says. Then she sits silent, her eyes staring at the floor.
“All this stuff. These things keeping him from dying, how much they cost?” I ask.
“There was a settlement. Money’s almost gone now. Court says the driver paid his share. Doc says he could get better. ” She looks away from me.
We sit and say nothing. The windows go dark and night falls. Still I sit when she leaves. I look at my boy with contraptions in his mouth and his chest moving up and down in rhythm. There is one that says Brain Wave Activity. It moves back and forth, rapid fire, faster than I can follow it. His mind is screaming to get out. The way I was screaming to get out. I thought I had no chance but they let me out in the end. I want to let him out too.
I think about my time in lock-up. I think about how they put me there for nothing. I think about how if I had at least been guilty I could try to make up for what happened. But for this there is nothing. I try to sleep but I can’t. My boy never moves on his own. Not once.
I start to think that lock-up isn’t so bad. I start to think about how I can survive there. I start to think what it would have meant if I had robbed somebody. I start to think how hard it is going to be to find someone that will hire a man who served time. I start to reconsider the gun. I start to think that maybe all the money I could get will help my boy live longer. I start to wonder if I should do what I served time for.