My Ascension

Photo taken from:https://answersingenesis.org/astronomy/alien-life/alien-abductions-freaky-fiction/alien abductions

The green and white light encompassed my entire body as my ascension began. On my journey I passed over the treetops near Briars farm. I spent many years there. Hay rides in the fall were my favorite. I remembered the apples that my mother would bring home. So beautiful, crisp, and sweet, the thought of them made me salivate.

  Just before I passed through the clouds, I could see the bridge near the water. I remembered our vacation at the bay. My parents old green Ford LTD station wagon was packed to the gills. There was barely enough room for my nine year old plaid clad body. Typically, my mother would wedge me between the cooler and the sleeping bags. Sometimes I would nod off as my mother would sing. She had a beautiful voice. My father enjoyed it as well, which was good because the AM radio never seemed to work right. He would smile at her, but you could barely tell, as the tattered grey fishing hat covered most of his face.

  As I passed through the clouds, I could see the school yard. Specifically the bleachers near the field. That’s where, Susie Kramer and I shared our first kiss. It was a Friday night after the game. Her long dark hair always smelled sweet. She liked to wear my leather jacket over her favorite black dress. We held each other for what seemed like hours before I drove her home in my parent’s old station wagon.

  While I rose above the clouds, I could see the moon and stars. They illuminated the night sky as though it were daytime. The glowing full moon reminded me of the night I proposed to Susie. We were walking back from a Halloween party. It was near Memorial park that I nearly split my Hulk pants as I knelt before her and proposed. When she said yes, I nearly crushed her pumpkin queen costume as I hugged her tightly with my giant green hands.

 As I  glided through the atmosphere of our planet, I could see the beautiful blue outline of the oceans. It reminded me of the first vacation we took with our son, Bruce. I remember driving up the coast on our way to the beach. I had packed up the 1995 green Ford Taurus station wagon and loaded it to the gills. Susie nestled our son between the cooler and the sleeping bags. I remembered watching him nod off as Susie would sing along to the radio. She had a beautiful voice. I was smiling as I listened and watched Bruce from the rearview mirror. However, it was hard to tell as my baseball cap was pulled tightly above my eyes to avoid the glare from the ocean.

  While I looked up, I could see the opening of the ship that projected the green and white light. As I stared at it, I began to weep. It reminded me of the bright light emanating from the operating table as Susie laid motionless as the surgeons worked on her lifeless body. The impact of the car accident had proven to be too much for her.

  As I entered the ship, I could see four walls, four gray beings, and a bed awaiting me.They reminded me of the four walls in my room at the hospital. I had been there for a while. After suffering my third stroke, I didn’t think I could go on. That was when my son Bruce had come to see me. I was overjoyed, especially at the news of he and his wife Carly were expecting. They stayed for a while, but eventually they had to go. Even though I wasn’t well, I managed to call a cab to drive me back home. Back near the farm where I grew up. I knew I was going to die, I just couldn’t do it in a hospital. As I rolled my chair through the front yard, I sensed a powerful presence of light. I stopped and wrapped myself in the blankets as the green and white light encompassed my body and my ascension began.

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The Conditioning

Photo taken from:https://www.gizmodo.com.au/2015/10/experts-warn-un-panel-about-the-dangers-of-artificial-superintelligence/AI

 Brice Parker’s bedroom was quiet, aside from the faint hum of the pewter coated ceiling fan and occasional rustle of blankets. The only emission of light was from the LED alarm clock and charging light on his cell phone. Brice had just finished a series of long work days with many more to come, not to mention his four-hour round trip commute.

   His boss had given his team an escalated deadline that left little time for anything else. The social media project that he had been working on required a lot of computer data research, analysis, and attention to details. Brice had stared at his computer screen for many hours that particular day with very minimal breaks, leaving his eyes strained and exhausted.

   The constant flickers and distorted images of light, from his computer screen, remained imbedded even after closing his eyes more than 30 minutes prior. He thought they would soon dissipate and he could drift off to sleep like every previous night in his life before. Unfortunately for Brice the light flickers remained and even somewhat multiplied.

  Hours went by as Brice laid in his bed, watching the light show as he grimaced from exhaustion. After finally giving in to the flickering light induced insomnia, he couldn’t bare to look at his alarm clock. As his wake up time approached, Brice noticed that the flickering light he watched behind closed eyes began to take more substantial form and resemble words from articles he had read online. Brice knew he had been working long hours and perhaps that was contributing to his eye strain. He thought perhaps a visit to the doctor was in order, but he knew there was no time.

  Brice began his morning with his usual hard-boiled eggs, chased by a cup of green tea. Brice was very health conscious and rarely veered from his ketogenic diet. No sugar, no processed foods. If he did ingest carbohydrates, it was from raw whole foods.

 Amidst his commute to the office, Brice noticed that the images of light, articles, and such would become more prevalent each time he closed his eyes. In fact, during the two-hour commute, he would lose chunks of time. Sometimes fifteen minutes or so. When he arrived at the office, he could barely recall the commute at all. In fact he could recall more social media content than he could the ambulance, fire truck, or parade that he had passed.

  In a panic, Brice grabbed his Starbucks coffee cup from his car console and walked across the parking lot. On the way, as he gulped down the remainder of joe and realized that he didn’t remember purchasing it. In fact, he remembered that he didn’t even like coffee. Somewhat stunned by the sudden realization, he briefly sat on the bench next to the entrance and closed his eyes. Almost immediately, the lights and images began. First it was a Facebook post, then came twitter, and Instagram, etc… Brice began to rub his bloodshot eyes in an attempt to control the images. However, it only increased the speed and fluctuation. Brice placed his palms over his face and dropped his head between his knees as one of his coworkers walked by and noticed that Brice appeared to be having some distress.

  “Brice….you OK?”, said Charlie Simpson as he placed his hand on his shoulder in an attempt to comfort him. Brice looked up at Charlie and became immediately enraged. Brice quickly arose and grabbed Charlie by the shirt and shoved him to the ground.

  “Fuck you!” said Brice as he sat back down and replanted his face in his palms, closing his eyes and dreading the images.

   “Damn it, Brice! What is wrong with you! We’ve been friends since elementary school!”, said Charlie as he dusted himself off, offered his friend a gesture, and made his way into the building in order to not be late.

  As Brice sat back down, he recalled their friendship, but couldn’t recall exactly why he was so angry with Charlie. Each time he closed his eyes, the anger grew. He didn’t know why, but he felt compelled to kill him. In a rage, Brice sprang up and marched towards the entrance of the building. When he lifted his arm towards the microchip scanner, the doors opened and everything went dark.

  As he came to, Brice was once again lying in his bed, staring into closed eyelids viewing vast amounts of social media at enormous rates of speed. As each image of a post appeared, Brice’s emotions swung from anger, to sadness, to happiness, and all places in between. Feeling as though he was going insane, he went to his kitchen to clear his thoughts and maybe find something to eat. To his surprise, his cupboards were filled with all sorts of famous name brand snacks. His refrigerator was filled with the same. Brice had no recall of buying any of those things, but partook nonetheless. Soon after eating his third cupcake and soda, Brice passed out and fell to his kitchen floor.

  Twenty four hours had passed and Brice was once again making his commute to the office. He felt sluggish from all of the junk food, but the computer images, flickering lights, and social media posts had stopped. Brice thought that perhaps the insulin spike was maybe what he needed.

  As Brice sat down at his desk and booted up his computer to begin working on the project, everything once again went dark. When he awakened a few moments later, the computer images, flashes of light began. That time, he didn’t fight it. In fact, Brice was no longer in control of his own brain. He no longer had an identity. He felt compelled to do whatever the social media posts told him to do. As his mind scrolled through his Facebook page, he saw a post in which his friend Charlie Simpson had embraced the newly elected President’s actions on Twitter. Instantly Brice became angry. He stood up from his black leather office chair and walked over to Charlie’s cubicle, grabbing a pair of scissors along the way. Without blinking, Brice grabbed the back of Charlie’s head and drove the scissors through his temple. Charlie died instantly without much of a struggle.

  Six months had passed and Brice was eating lunch from his cell on death row. As he chewed his bologna sandwich, he smiled as the current memes regarding politics scrolled through his brain. Seconds later, he came upon one that made him angry. It was a Facebook post from Phil, the prison guard standing outside Brice’s cell. Phil, had posted a meme mocking the legalization of marijuana. Brice called to the guard to approach him as he slowly lowered the shank from his orange sleeve. Brice was no longer in control of his mind. Artificial intelligence had overtaken him. He not only had been working on the social media project, he was the project. The conditioning.

  

 

                                                    -The End-

  

Send in the Clown

20171012_153759-1  It was Halloween night in 1965. The weather was cool, around 50 degrees fahrenheit, but dry. The autumn leaves blew across our suburban street like tumbleweeds. I had recently turned 16, so I was a bit old for trick or treating and my father forbade me from dating until I was in college. My parents would, however, let me pass out candy while they watched horror movies on our new Curtis Mathes color television. I loved seeing the creative costumes and I would sneak a baby ruth now and again.

  It was towards the end of the trick or treating hours and I could see our neighbors had begun turning off their porch lights. While I was ready to shut it down as well, the doorbell rang. I grabbed the last of our candy in my mother’s black witch’s cauldron bowl and opened the door. There he stood, a handsome boy dressed as a prince. Our eyes met and I was smitten, but I had to make sure my father didn’t find out.

  “Megan, shut the light off, it’s late and trick or treating is over. Only people up to no good are out now”, yelled my father as I exchanged telephone numbers with the prince via candy wrappers.

  “I am, father, just passing out the rest of the candy. You know mother doesn’t like it lying around the house”, I said as I smiled at my prince and closed the door.

  “Ok, lock up and come watch scary movies with us, there’s popcorn”, said my father as he shoveled the buttery deliciousness in his face.

  Just as I went to sit down, the doorbell rang again. My father told me to leave it alone, but I was hoping to see my prince one more time and ran to the door.

  It had been only a few moments, but it felt like hours since it all started. Why did I open the door. My father warned me not to. He said that trick or treating was over and that whoever is out past midnight is probably up to no good. He said that and I didn’t listen. He was right. My innocent curiosity took a turn for the worse as the trick-or-treater shoved me out of the way and made a beeline for my parents as they watched television from our cushy denim sofa. The blade of the knife cut straight through the plush red pillow that my father held up in defense. The pillow nor my father’s greasy popcorn hand were a match as the steel blade pierced through it all and straight into my father’s neck, severing his jugular vein. Next up, it plunged through my mother’s home decor magazine as she watched the pointy end get buried between her eyes. Blood spewed all over the blue afghan blanket that my aunt Ida knitted for me on my birthday last year. He laughed hysterically and continued hacking until they were in pieces, while I stared in shock at the blood and the human salsa that used to be my parents.

  I ran as fast as I could, up and down the stairs, in and out of rooms. I couldn’t get away. I thought perhaps, he was toying with me. I tried to call for help, but the phone lines were down. Still in shock, I made a run for the front door. That’s where he finally caught me and it all went dark.

  I have no idea how long I was out. It seemed like an eternity. I’m also not sure what made me shiver more, my bruised naked body lying on the freezing cold concrete floor or the fear of what was has happened and what may yet happen. Either way, dying from hypothermia would be welcome in lieu of the unthinkable that I witnessed the monster do to my parents.The wire cable that secured my hands and feet was so tight that it cut into my skin and blood trickled to the floor as I lamented my fate.

   I could see his reflection in the broken mirror on the wall of my dimly lit basement. He was standing there staring at me in a blood soaked clown mask, laughing and holding the butcher knife to my throat. He tilted his head slightly as though he was in thought about what to do next. I closed my eyes in anticipation of the horror that I was sure was to come, but it didn’t. Seconds later I opened my eyes and he was gone.

 I tried to squirm out of the wire cable, but it was too tight. In fact I could feel my hands and feet begin to go numb. Even if I did slip out, I had no idea what I would do anyway. I thought he was probably waiting for me in the shadows, but he never came back. After a while the police came and I was eventually rescued and relatively unharmed, except for cuts and scrapes and seemingly irreparable mental damage. I spent the rest of my youth with my Aunt Ida, who lived only a few blocks away.

  Fast forward in time. It was sixteen years later. I was 32 years old, a full grown adult. A day doesn’t go by that I don’t think of that horrific night. I miss my parents everyday, but years of therapy, medication, and the support of loved ones had helped me cope with the atrocity. In fact, I ended up marrying that trick or treating prince from that horrific night. His name was Charles. We started dating in high school, just after that Halloween night. He hadn’t changed a bit, except for the graying hair on his temples. We had a lovely Eight year old daughter, named Claire. She was the light of our life. Her long blonde hair reminded me of myself at that age. We were happy.

  That year I had decided that it was time for me to officially move on and enjoy Halloween once again. Claire’s third grade class was going to have a party and go trick or treating, so Claire needed a costume. I loved my daughter and I refused to buy one of the cheap box costumes at the department store. I wanted my daughter to enjoy the season as much as I did, prior to the horror. We decided to make a costume together.

  “Mommy, I want to help, but I don’t know if I want to be a clown or a fairy”, said Claire as I held her hand while we climbed the attic stairs of the old house we bought on third street. It was the house Charles grew up in, about three blocks from where I grew up.

   “Sure sweetheart, I think you would make an excellent fairy. We can surprise your father, he’ll be home soon”, I said as we began going through some old trunks and boxes. We were looking for whatever we could piece together. There were some things that Charles’s parents left behind. I was hoping maybe I could piece together something, maybe some of Charles sister’s old costumes would still be around.

  “Look mommy, I like this one. It’s not a fairy, but please can I be this one?”, said Claire as she stood in front of me wearing an old bloodstained clown mask. I was in shock. It looked to be the same mask worn by the monster that took my parents 16 years ago. Immediately, the memory that I had worked so hard to repress from that night rushed into my mind. I stood paralyzed in fear.

  “Hi honey, what are you guys doing up here?”, said Charles as he entered the attic, closed the door, and tilted his head slightly as though he was in thought of what to do next.

Broken China

 The echo was deafening and my nostrils burned from the acidic aroma wafting from the revolver. Even from point blank range, the bullet sailed over my right shoulder and struck the china cabinet in the corner. I looked deep into his weathered gray eyes and watched his fear dissipate as my claws clamped on his neck and he grew ever closer to death. The roar of the gunfire left me unable to hear his cries or moans, I felt unsatisfied. I needed more. I needed him to pay for what he had done. Mutilation had to ensue, but it was far from over. The bloodletting did not satiate my appetite for the kill. I wanted him to pay. As I stripped the last tendon from his bones, everything went black.

  As a boy, I was a bit on the frail side. In my dreams, I longed for the heroic feats of the mythological heroes I read about. However, in reality, it took me two hands to open our front door and a struggle to lug my blue canvas book bag from school. My mother always said that eventually I would grow big and strong like my father, but I just needed to be patient. I never knew my father, he died before I was born. My mother would tell me tales about him. She would go on and on about how he was a late bloomer like me.

  “Be patient my son, in time you will grow big and strong like your father. He was small, like you and then one day he wasn’t. It runs in the family you know”, she would say.

  Five years after I was born, my mother remarried. She felt obligated to provide security for me and thought that an adult male figure in my life would provide structure and responsibility. Unfortunately she chose a miserable soul. I hated him. My stepfather, the Captain, was rather unimpressed by my small, anemic structure as he was a large strapping man with thick bronze hands and a sturdy back. Even at a young age I could sense his disappointment. He blamed my mother for my inadequacies as there was no way a child from his bloodlines could ever be quite that insubstantial.

  Most nights, when his boat was ashore, he would verbally assault my mother and I as he scarfed down whatever food that she had worked hard all day to procure and prepare. Nothing was ever good enough. I’m sure at one time they loved each other, but those days seemed to have passed. Other than the ritualistic berating at dinner, the Captain rarely spoke to us. We were elated when he was out to sea and depressed upon his return.

   My mother was a good, decent, and hard working woman. She spent her mornings, hours before any of us awoke, working for the local fish monger. She didn’t earn much, but without that income, we would have starved. The Captain spent more than half of his earnings on gambling, booze, and whores. My mother knew of his carousing, but felt somehow obligated to hold the family together.

   It was my sixteenth birthday, which is significant because in most of the homes on the shore, it was a right of passage for the boy to join his father on his ship when he reached that age. However, as an undersized and frail teen with a penchant for books, the sea was the last place I wanted to be. Unfortunately the Captain saw it differently. That night he arrived home enraged and in a drunken stupor. My mother and I were having a piece of strawberry cake by the fire and talking about the tales of Poe that I had been reading.

  “Where is the boy! Where is Sam!”, screamed the Captain as he slammed open the kitchen door wielding a revolver. He grabbed me by the collar, knocking the dish of cake from my hands which crashed into the cabinet in the corner, breaking the glass. My mother began to cry as the plate that was knocked from my hands was part of a family heirloom set of china that was handed down for generations in her family. Her tears fell to the oriental rug as she picked up the broken pieces and wiped the pink frosting from the cabinet window.

  “Pack your suitcase we’re leaving tonight!”, said the Captain as he shoved me towards the staircase and scarfed down what remained of my birthday cake.

  “Go on boy! It’s time you become a man!”, shouted the Captain as my mother begged him to leave me be.

   In tears, I bolted upstairs and gathered my things. I didn’t want to go with him, but I was terrified of the consequences upon my refusal. I soon finished packing my belongings into my tan suitcase and headed back downstairs. As I turned the corner to head into the living room, I could see my mother pleading with the Captain to leave me alone, but he wasn’t having it. He grew angrier and struck her in the head with the butt end of his nickel plated revolver, rendering my mother unconscious.

  “Mother!….Leave her alone, or so help me I’ll…”, I shouted at him as I dropped the suitcase and lunged towards him.

  “You’ll what…just what is a frail little weakling going to do!”, said the Captain as he knocked me across the room.

  I was dazed, but I grew even angrier. I could feel all of the years of mental and physical abuse building a profound sense of rage inside me. Suddenly a horrible pain radiated all over my body. It was a piercing pressure that felt like I was going to burst. I screamed in agony as I ripped the shirt from my body and tore at the flesh on my face. The Captain’s eyes grew as huge as if he were staring at death itself . I could feel the pain turn into a heightened feeling of power and agility. I screamed and howled as I saw my reflection in the china cabinet glass. I had become a hideous wolf-like beast with the carnal need to gorge on flesh.

  The Captain’s hands began to quiver as he lifted his revolver and pointed it in my direction. He tried to speak, but I couldn’t wait. I wanted him dead. I bared my newly developed canine-like fangs and lunged at his face with the full intention of killing, when the Captain pulled the trigger.

  In the morning I was awakened by my mother humming and scrubbing the floor underneath the oriental rug where I had mutilated my stepfather. I could smell sausages cooking in the background and cinnamon apples. I was groggy and had a hard time remembering exactly what happened. It had to be a dream.

  “Good morning sunshine! I hope you’re hungry. You should be, you worked up an appetite”, she said as she smiled while picking up her pail of blood stained water and headed into the kitchen.

  “Mother, what happened last night? Where is the Captain?”, I said as I followed her in the kitchen.

  “Oh honey, you’re just like your father. Could you be a dear and grab some of our good china and set the table, we’re celebrating”, said my mother as she turned the sausages cooking in the cast iron skillet.

  I didn’t know what to think or what had happened. I walked back into the living room to get the china, when I noticed there were several pieces missing and the glass was broken. At that moment, it all came back to me. It wasn’t a dream. What have I become.

  

    

Straw Man

  It was a gorgeous fall morning. The leaves were a vibrant gold and orange. The slight crispness in the air and the warmth of the sunshine was soothing to the face. The smell of burning leaves and pumpkin spice filled the morning air. Bill and Tori were lounging on their porch, sipping on coffee and planning their agenda for their day trip to the big town.

  After finishing up, they loaded up the burgundy Honda minivan and headed out on their way. It was such a beautiful day, that they decided to take the back roads. Tori gazed out the window as the wind blew through her long brown hair. Bill fiddled with the knobs on the radio. Unfortunately, the only station he could pull in was some sort of weird sermon with a preacher shouting fire and brimstone. He quickly turned it off and played his Cat Stevens CD instead.  

   All of a sudden they began hearing a loud rattle coming from the rear. Sure enough the back right tire had gone flat. Bill slowed the minivan and pulled over to the side of the road next to a massive cornfield. They both hopped out to inspect the problem. Bill went for the jack while Tori searched for a signal on her phone. “Do you want me to call a tow service?” said Tori.

  “No, I’ve got this”, said Bill as he lugged the jack and spare over to the side where the flat was.

  “I can’t get a signal”, said Tori as Bill began to loosen the lugnuts. They all came off relatively easy, except for the last one which seemed to be rusted on. Bill decided to rear back and give it a little extra something. While doing so, he gouged his knuckle on the jagged old wheel well. The blood started to flow as Bill reached into his pocket and found a couple of coffee napkins that he used to cover it and soak up the blood. Concerned for her husband, Tori quickly cleaned up the wound and bandaged him with the first aid kit

  “I don’t know what I would do without you”, said Bill as he leaned in to kiss his savior.

  “Ouch! Your whiskers are like straw, be gentle and maybe you’ll get lucky”, said Tori as she winked, slowly unbuttoned her blouse, and headed for the back of the van while seductively gesturing for bill to come with her.

  “No problem, just let me finish up”, said Bill as he quickly continued the tire change and rushed back to the van like a teenager on prom night.

  Fast forward about twenty minutes later. “I’ll be right back”, said Bill as he stepped outside the van to relieve himself.

  As Bill fumbled with his pants on the side of the road, he noticed that the soiled coffee napkins that he used to clean his wound had blown into the field next to the road. Being the environmentally conscious person that he was, he decided to gather them.  While finishing up, Bill noticed a slight clearing around 30 feet or so from the road. He decided to take a look. There he saw a massive straw man attached to a pole buried in the ground. Oddly, the straw man was dressed in the same plaid flannel and khaki pant combo that Bill was currently wearing.

  A chill formed along his spine.The temperature seemed to drop as dark clouds began looming overhead. He could see his breath float through the air. Bill’s eyes grew huge as the face on the straw man changed and morphed to look like his own. He quickly closed and rubbed his eyes. He thought he was seeing things.

  “How could this be!”, he said to himself as he took another look. That time the straw man appeared normal. As Bill turned to walk back to the van, the straw man spoke to him. “Please help me… please help mmmeee!”, said the straw man as it’s face changed to resemble Bill once again.

  “I must be seeing and hearing things”, shouted Bill as he darted back to the van.

  “I must have watched too many horror movies as a kid”, he said under his breath as he opened the door of the van, hopped in, and fumbled for his keys.

  “Is everything OK”, said Tori as she played with her cell phone in an attempt to get a signal.

  “There was some sort of scarecrow or straw man back there that really freaked me out”, said Bill as he attempted to draw Tori’s attention away from the phone.

   “Cool! Can we get a picture of it? It would make a great Halloween profile pic for my facebook page”, said Tori as she kept her attention on her phone.

   “OK, let’s go. I’ll show you so you can see for yourself”, said Bill as he took Tori over to the clearing where he had seen the straw man.

   When they arrived, the straw man was gone. The pole that the straw man had been attached to was still standing, but no strawman.

  “Maybe this isn’t the right spot”,said Tori as she snapped a shot of the pole and tried to upload it to her facebook profile.

   “No, this is the spot and that is the pole where the straw man was!”, exclaimed Bill.

   “You’re creepin’ me out, let’s get out of here!”, said Tori as they ran back to the van. In a panic, Bill started it up and they began to drive away.

   A few miles down the road, Tori was finally able to get a signal on her phone. As she glanced at her home page, she noticed there was a notification of a Facebook profile picture update. Tori seemed puzzled as she didn’t remember changing it. As she clicked on the link, Tori began to shiver, her eyes widened, and her jaw dropped. The temperature plummeted and exposed each breath they took. Her profile picture had been changed to a photo of her husband’s head on the body of a straw man, just as he had described earlier. “Oh my God!” she screamed as she looked up to show Bill. Except it wasn’t Bill driving, it was the straw man. Tori screamed as the van drove off of the road and disappeared into the cornfield, never to be seen again.

 

                                                         -The End-

  

The Clock

 The clock hand struck 6:45 am and the sun began to rise. Professor John Stanton was lying in bed asleep in his second floor flat in downtown Sheffield. The flat faced east. The morning revealed a breathtaking sunrise. Bright shades of orange, red, and yellow illuminated his entire room.  

  “Bloody hell, why is it so hot, my skin is on fire?”, John mumbled to himself as he was awoken by the sun shining through the open window. His skin began to sizzle like bangers on a hot skillet. He opened his eyes and quickly leaped from the bed to close the shades and draw the curtains as he couldn’t take it anymore. The burning hurt so that John moved without the use of his cane. Something he hadn’t done since the accident.

 The clock hand struck 6:46am. The pain went away. John was not quite awake yet. He was in a sort of haze as he stood in front of the bed. He barely noticed the stark naked young woman lying in the bed next to where he was just a second ago. “Who the hell is that?”, he thought as he rubbed his eyes and reached for his glasses to get a better look.

  “There, that should help”, John said to himself as slipped the bridge of his tortoise-shell eyeglass frames snuggly against his nose.    

  The corrective lenses blurred his vision, so he removed them. He repeated it again and again. It was distracting him from what was clearly a much larger issue. He was astonished, his vision improved significantly without the glasses. John had worn them since he was a boy and was very near-sighted. “How could this be”, he pondered.

  “Bloody hell, the..the girl!”, he shouted inside of his own mind.

  She was just lying there sleeping with her back to him. John noticed that she was very pale, but also very beautiful. He couldn’t see her face, but her long black hair cascading over her bare shoulder was luminous. He began to tremble and his heart race. He couldn’t remember anything. He didn’t know what to do.

  The clock hand struck 6:47am. John stood and stared at the remarkably gorgeous young woman lying asleep in his bed. All he remembered was stopping for a pint at the local pub on his way home from work. Who is she? How did she get there? Is she one of my students  These were all questions that rushed through John’s mind as he frantically searched for the right way to approach the situation. “This makes no sense, I’m probably more than twice her age and besides I never talk to women. Well, not in a very long time” John thought to himself.

  John’s nights usually consisted of staying late to work on lesson plans, grading papers, and self loathing. He was never the same after the accident. He never moved on. Last night was the 25th anniversary of the accident and his wife’s disappearance. John had planned to stop for a pint and have some dinner at the pub.  Afterwards he planned to go back to his flat, take a bottle of sleeping pills and fall asleep forever while dreaming of his lost love.

  John and Mina were college sweethearts and were married right after John was hired by the university as an english professor. They were both young and very much in love. They were going to have children. Mina was going to continue her education program and be an elementary school teacher. They had their whole life ahead of them, or so they thought.

   One stormy night in November, about a week after moving into their downtown flat, John had to work late at the university. He was concerned about Mina, so he phoned her to let her know his plans and when he would be home. She reassured John that she would be fine and not to worry.

  Seconds later there was a knock at Mina’s door. It was her downstairs neighbor, Lucy. She had come to borrow some candles as she and her husband Arthur had just moved in and didn’t have any. The storm grew intense and lightning flashed repeatedly. There was a loud roar of thunder and the lights went out.

 A couple of hours later, John arrived back at the flat. He rushed up the stairs, excited to be home with his beautiful wife. When he opened the doors he was horrified. The flat had been ransacked. There must have been a break in. He saw Mina lying on the floor unconscious and bleeding. They didn’t have a phone to call an ambulance. John knew he needed to get her to the hospital as soon as possible. He couldn’t imagine life without her.

  He swept her up in his arms, swiftly carried her through the door and down the staircase where he laid her gently in the back seat of the tattered old green station wagon. He quickly slammed the car in reverse to back out of the driveway. Out of nowhere something slammed into the side of the car. The old station wagon was spun across the road. That’s when everything went black.

  About a week later John awoke in the hospital. He had been in a coma. He was still in pretty bad shape. He immediately thought about Mina and screamed for the nurse! The nurse rushed in to calm him down and stabilize him. “Nurse please, where is Mina! Is she OK? Please, I need to see her”, said John.

  “Sir, please calm down. You have been in a serious accident. You have a broken hip, two broken legs, and a punctured lung. I need you to remain calm.”, said the nurse.

  “Please, my wife was in the car with me. I need to make sure she is OK”, said John.

  “Sir,you were the only one found at the scene of the accident. In fact the police aren’t sure what hit you as there was no trace of another vehicle on the scene. We’ve tried to contact your family but we were unable. Do you have a phone number or know the whereabouts of any family we could contact”, said the nurse.

  “I am an only child and my parents are both gone. The only family I have is my wife, Mina, who was in the car with me before the accident. You see I came home and she was lying on the floor unconscious and bleeding. I was on my way here when everything went black”, said John.

  “Sir, I’m not sure how to say this, but the police said there is no record of a wife. They even checked your apartment and there is no evidence of your wife, not even a photograph”, said the nurse.

  “That’s impossible!”, shouted John.

  “Sir, calm down. I am only trying to help. Can you tell me anything else”, said the nurse as she prepared a sedative.

  Well there was a break in, maybe her things were stolen. Maybe she is lost and has amnesia. For the love of God, please find my wife!”, exclaimed John as he began to panic. The nurse injected him. Soon everything went black again.

  The clock hand struck 6:48am. John kneeled over the young woman in his bed, he was going to go for it. The moment of truth was upon him. He carefully grabbed her by the shoulder and rolled her on her back. He couldn’t believe his eyes.

  It was Mina. It was Mina exactly as he had remembered. She looked exactly the same as she did 25 years ago. She opened her eyes and smiled.

  “How could this be! How…”, said John.

  “It’s OK, you’re with me know. I saved you”, interrupted Mina in a sort of soft calming voice as she reached to John for an embrace. In shock, he fell to the ground facing the mirrored bifold doors next to the bed. He looked up to face his reflection in the mirror, but it was not there. The clock hand struck 6:49am.

Lucky red hockey sweater

Karl was an accountant by day and a hockey super fan at night. He never missed one of his team’s games, even the preseason. Tonight was the big game seven. Two bitter hockey rivals facing off to decide the championship.

Karl was passionate about hockey, but he liked to eat even more. He had his feast all lined up for the big game. There were pizza rolls, chicken nuggets, pizza, corndogs, and even nachos. He had turned his hockey rink coffee table into a buffet. This may seem like a lot of food, but Karl was a large man. At age 47, he tipped the scales at 445 lbs. and stood 6’ 3” tall.

The game was as exciting and filled with drama. The overtime period had come to an end and the teams were still tied. There was going to be a shootout to decide.

“Laplante winds up, and shoots! …” screamed the announcer as the telecast was cut off and went to white static. Karl tried to stand in dismay, but that is when it all went black.

The cushy, tan chair and that had supported Karl in the upright position for the last eighteen hours was slowly causing his backside to grow sore. His sweatpants were filled with human waste as he couldn’t stand to use the bathroom. The chafing had festered into deterioration of the skin surrounding his genitals. He stared straight ahead at the white static on the television screen. He didn’t move, he couldn’t. The sweat dripped off of his furrowed brow and saturated his lucky red hockey sweater. It wasn’t too hot that day, but old widow Dietrich from downstairs liked to blast her thermostat. She could never get warm enough. Granted, she was easily 90 or so, but boy she liked it hot. Unfortunately for Karl, heat rises. He would open the windows, but he couldn’t move. His legs felt as heavy as two concrete pillars and his spine was equally as stiff. Karl could barely wipe the sweat from his own brow or stroke his cat that was curled up in a ball on his lap.

Jonesy, his cat, purred and purred as Karl stroked his calico fur. Thoughts of despair flashed through his mind, but Jonesy helped him stay calm. Suddenly, there was a pounding at his apartment door.

Karl slowly turned his head toward the noise and tried to speak, but nothing came out. All he could do was lightly moan. The pounding continued. A lump grew in Karl’s throat as he attempted to gather enough saliva to try and speak again. It took a while as the dehydration had diminished his voice. His throat was so dry that every time he tried to speak a word, he felt as though he had swallowed a handful razor blades.

The pounding grew louder. This time it startled Jonesy as he hopped down from Karl and took shelter under the hockey rink coffee table in the center of the room. Karl tried to move, but the stiffness and pain was overwhelming. Using what he thought was everything he had left, Karl reached for the remote control to his assisted lift chair and pressed the “up” button. The pounding was now as loud as ever. “There must be multiple people out there”, thought Karl as the assist chair allowed him to stand for the first time in eighteen hours. Unfortunately, he quickly collapsed onto the floor and cracked his head on the coffee table and rendered him momentarily unconscious. When he came to, he was face to face with Jonesy who was feasting on the plate of pizza rolls that Karl had dropped during the game.

Moments later, Karl stood at old widow Dietrich’s door, slowly pounding and moaning with his head pressed tightly against the handmade welcome sign that her grandson hade made for her in woodshop class. Blood from his forehead spilled out onto the walnut stained “E” on the welcome sign

“Just a minute… I’m an old woman!” shouted widow Dietrich as she hiked up her green plaid house dress and shuffled to the door in her ratty pink slippers.

Old widow Dietrich looked through her peep hole, but all she could see was Karl’s red hockey sweater. She opened each of her ten different locks while grumbling about how cold she was and how everyone upstairs was stealing her heat. As she opened the last of the locks, she slowly turned the knob and opened the door to see the most horrific scene of her life. There were body parts and blood strewn all over the hallway.

Two feet in front of her stood an undead Karl gorging himself on calico fur and flesh. Karl looked up from the mangled corpse of Jonesy with yellow bloodshot eyes and lunged for widow Dietrich.

The explosion that followed was fast and hot. It evaporated everything and everyone in its path.

                                  -the end-