Archive for writer’s digest

Highway Hypnosis

Posted in short story, writing with tags , , , , on January 3, 2015 by originalalchemist

 

I sat in the diner eating my late breakfast of over easy eggs and slightly burnt wheat toast. Just the way Sarah used to make. Between bites I took sips of black coffee and cursed myself for waking up late. I needed to be on the road or I’d never make my meeting in Chicago for my grant proposal. I signaled the waitress for the check as an older gentleman sat down in the booth. His hand flicked the crumbs off his table with a delicate and nonchalant wave. I raised an eyebrow as he met my gaze.

“Do you ever wish you could do it all different?” he asked.

“Um…I’m sorry I don’t know you.” I answered unsure of myself.

“It is a simple question Ryan. Do you ever wish you could do things differently?”

He knew my name. How the hell did he know my name? I looked around the diner searching for the waitress. I didn’t want to be here anymore.

“Just answer the question young man. Do you wish you could do it all differently?” he repeated as the waitress strolled up to the table.

“Oh hey Nick, when did you get in?” she asked with familiarity as she placed my check down.

“Only just a moment ago Maggie. Didn’t know you were working today too,” he replied warmly as he picked up my check. “Let me take care of this for our friend here.” He placed a hundred dollar bill and the check in Maggie’s apron pocket and told her to keep the change.

“You are just the best Nick!” She gushed, and then pranced away.

“Hey thanks, but I don’t really know what you mean. I um…should really be going. I’m already going to have to make up some time on the road. I really appreciate it…Nick was it? Anyway, I will make sure to pay it forward or whatever.” I said hurriedly while grabbing up my coat.

The old man stood up rather quickly and blocked my exit. He placed his hands firmly on the table and top of the booth and leaned in close.

“You still need to answer me Ryan. Do you ever wish you could do it all differently?”

“Jesus, man! Yes! I do I really do. Is that what you want to hear? I do. Now can I go?!” I snapped.

“Have a nice drive.” He smiled and casually walked away.

I composed myself as he walked out the door. Nobody in the place seemed to have noticed our strange interaction. I made my way to my car as I looked around the lot for the old man. I found no sign of him. Getting into my word down old compact car I had to tell myself to shake it off. I needed to be focusing on my proposal. I tried to but that old Nick guy kept creeping into my thoughts. I couldn’t stop thinking about the whole thing as I passed the sign that said I had 50 miles until I reached Chicago. My mind drifted again as I turned on the radio.

I came to as I passed a sign informing me that I was leaving the Chicago city limits. I shook my head and rubbed my eyes as I tried to clear some of the fog. As the focus came back I realized the steering wheel was different. What the hell was a fancy logo like that doing on my old piece of…..wait the whole car was different. Stained cloth seats were replaced with rich leather. The instrument panel and radio were now impressive looking touch screen displays. I then noticed that my wrinkled second hand suit had turned into a fine three piece with cuff links and a silk tie. My left wrist was weighted down by a fancy looking watch. In the passenger seat was a bag overflowing with hundred dollar bills. What the hell? I don’t own anything remotely nice. Where did I get a bag of money? I caught a glimpse of myself in the rear view mirror and swerved to the side of the road and stopped. My hair was back. A full, thick head of black hair had grown in from where it once had been receding. My eyes were no longer baggy and I had youthful smooth skin that was devoid of the five o’clock shadow that resulted from waking up too late to shave that morning.

I opened the bag of money and realized it was stack upon stack of hundred dollar bills. There had to be almost a million dollars in there. I closed the bag and set it back in the seat. I realized there was a newspaper on the floor board in front of the seat and reached down to pick it up. The date read November 16th.  Wait that was two days from now. The cover story was a picture of police standing around a car that was identical to mine. Yellow tape partitioned it off from a crowd. The head line read “Mystery Man Found Dead in Diner Parking Lot”.  What is going on? As I kept reading the article revealed that an older man had been found dead in the trunk of the car. Police were reviewing camera footage for a person of interest.  So far no leads have developed.

I dropped the paper. This was all too weird. Glancing back at the radio display I saw that it said the date was November 17th. Had I truly lost three whole days? Suddenly a ringing sound came out of the speakers and startled me out of my thoughts. The center display said incoming call from unknown. Maybe I shouldn’t answer it, but I really want some answers. I push the phone button on the steering wheel. I don’t say anything, but just listen.

“I’d say this is different. Wouldn’t you Ryan?” the old man’s voice asked from the speakers. “No doubt, you have some questions. I’m sure you’d like me to answer them. Well my boy, you’re going to have to earn that.”

“What did,” I began before being promptly cut off.

“No. No I will not answer any questions now. As I said you will have to earn your answers. Now I have set the navigation in the car for you. There are several points. You may wish to carefully consider the order in which you visit them. At the very end of your journey you will meet me, and if by then you still have questions I will certainly answer them. I have provided you all the tools necessary for your task, everything from money to something a little more direct in the glove box. I look forward to seeing you soon. Have a nice drive.” The phone hung up.

Curiously I opened the glove box. Inside were a pistol and a box of bullets. Fine, let’s see where this goes. I shut the glove compartment and pulled up the navigation screen. Several points showed up and I randomly clicked on one and began the drive. I was ready for my answers.

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Sea Monster

Posted in short story, writing with tags , , , , on August 8, 2014 by originalalchemist

 Sam stepped out onto the bow of the 120 foot yacht. Rogue strands of his hair caught the salted breeze and danced. The sun was setting and he wanted to watch. He gazed out at the horizon and saw the retreating sun set ablaze the ocean in countless sparkles. He breathed in deeply as he looked down and watched the ship slice through the orange tinted waves. Then he exhaled deeply in an unmistakable sigh. He was happy to be out here and away from his family. Mother and Father were drunkenly dancing and laughing loudly with their friends inside. Sam hated them when they were like this. Which it seemed to him was more often than not lately. He had begged to be left at home, but his parents wouldn’t hear of it.
“You’re going to come on the yacht with us Samuel,” his Mother demanded. “I don’t care if you think you’re too cool to hang out with us just because you’ve your driver’s license. It’s going to be a family affair. All of us together. That’s that. If you’ve anything else to say about it you can take it up with your father when he gets home. I’m certain he’d love a debate with a teenager after a long day at the firm.”
With that she returned to her wine and her socializing with the ladies she’d invited over. Sam didn’t even bother to protest any further. When Father returned from work (only a mere four hours late) he went right into the bathroom. He didn’t bother to even say hi to Sam. He simply walked by smelling of booze and strange perfume that didn’t smell like his mother. Sam overheard him mutter to his mother as he walked by that the guys at the office trying to make partner took him out. She simply shrugged and told him she was going shopping without even glancing at him. And now here they were as a whole family. With the addition of two other couples that had been invited. No other kids though.
Sam secretly hoped that his parents would drink too much and end up overboard. He could be one of those orphans that inherited his parent’s fortune. Sam smiled thinking at how great that would be. The sun vanished and night took over as he turned around to walk down the starboard side of the ship. He stumbled over something in the dark. The lights from the yacht turned on and Sam was shocked to see a tentacle arm sliding toward him. He scooted back towards the hull of the ship. Frantically he was looking around for something to defend himself with. He looked to the wall and saw a fire axe. Sam sprang to his feet heaving it high in the air ready to slam it down on the sea creature, but was ashamed to see it was only a hose he hadn’t wrapped back up from spraying the deck earlier. He slid back down the wall laughing still grasping the axe. He felt so foolish thinking that some monster of the sea was going to kill his whole family.
Sam laughed for five minutes until he had a new idea. He looked at the bladed edge of the axe and then back to his stumbling drunk adult companions. He thought of his earlier wishes to be an orphan, and he realized not all monsters have to come from the sea.

Beast

Posted in horror, short story, writing with tags , , , , , , , on August 6, 2014 by originalalchemist

The prompt: You had that dream again. The one where the beast with the drooping hands and wicked fangs stares you down from your window. Except the window is open this time – and you’re awake! What happens next?

My story

Beast

I awake from the dream with a cold fright. I clutch the bed clothes tight to my goose bump infested flesh. I’m breathing fast and shallow creating a steamy cloud overhead. Apparently the dream isn’t the only thing to have given me chills. It starts differently each evening I go to sleep, but the end had until tonight always been the same. I stand at my window transfixed by glowing red eyes that stare into my very soul. Sharp talons etch spider web cracks into the window between us. A thin piece of glass is the only thing separating me from the malicious intent of the beast. A thick mane of matted hair rustles in the wind, and a blast of heat from thick flaring nostrils fogs the window. Instinctively I try to wipe the glass clear. As my hand rises massive jowls part revealing a cavern of wickedly sharp fangs. From where I stand I can smell the stench on the wretched beast’s breath. It roars a thunderous growl and explodes through the glass and I awake.
I dare a peek over to the window where my night time haunting usually gazes at me, and see nothing but the pale moon lit meadow just beyond the woods. I exhale another cloud of warm vapor into the cold air and push myself towards the window. I don’t remember opening the window, nor would I have in the middle of the winter. My feet meet the cold boards of the floor and they creak in protest under my weight. I gingerly tip toe to the window as I peer out and almost lament the absence of my nightmare. Reaching up to pull it shut I find it’s difficult to pull down, and after a few struggling moments I’m using my full weight to pry the window loose.
As I hang just above my toes I smell it. The stench of the beast in my dream assaults my nose. I dart back from the window. It couldn’t actually be… No. The beast wouldn’t come here. It couldn’t actually be here, but as I think it a set of eager talons rest on the prickled bare skin of my shoulders. They sink in and I wail with pain in the night. I am lifted off the ground and thrown across the room. Crashing into the bed I come to a violent stop. I roll over to see the beast. It is every bit the same as in my dreams as it menacingly advances. I back futilely into the wall.
The beast pauses and teases my face with a claw. Glowing red eyes lock into mine as the head of the monster cocks to the side. Its throat rustles and clears as its jaws open.
“Release me witch,” the beast croaks. “Have I not suffered long enough?”
How is the beast speaking?! How is it even here?
“Your spells are weakening. Your protection from me has waned and I’m only beast in appearance. I’m no longer the mindless monster you cursed me to be. Now please undo this black sorcery. Let me be a man once again, and release my servants.”
The beast slinked back away from me. Its eyes searching into my own. I regarded the creature now and felt a slight bit of pity for it.
“I’ve dreamt of you every night for months now. Tonight was the first night you actually broke the glass in my dream. It was an omen I suppose,” I began as I stood back up. “Tell me beast have you learned anything from your time as a mindless monster? Has your outward appearance reflected your actions and careless thought towards me?”
“How dare you punish me for your perceived slight!” the beast roars. “Because I didn’t return your feelings you curse me and my kingdom witch! How dare you judge me as the monster?”
“Careful my beastly prince. Your arrogance is still thriving. I can see you’ve learned no humility. Go back to your castle and await the pretty girl you think you deserve. But you must win her as you are. Let her see your true form and see if she doesn’t treat you the way you did me beast.”
The beast rears back and prepares to lunge letting out a thunderous roar.
“Calm yourself beast. If you kill me you will be stuck like this forever. Not just you but your servants as well. Think of them if your rage is threatening to overcome you.” I admonish.
“Perhaps, but perhaps the spell will wear off the way your protection spell did.”
My eyes widen in fear as I realize the beast has cunningly thought this through. If I’m no longer alive the curse is lifted. Hence the reason for the protection spell. He knew. He only came to call my bluff and has seen me show my hand. As the creature leaps towards me I cannot help but see the window finally drop and the glass shatter.

A Writer’s Digest prompt and my story

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on January 29, 2014 by originalalchemist

I actually just did my first Writer’s Digest writing prompt. I thought maybe you’d like to see. The prompt is as follows:

The snow is coming down and school has been canceled. Your brother, who has an important government job, has asked you to watch his kids during the day so he can go to work. While watching his kids, they reveal something top secret about your brother’s job—and it’s something, for the sake of your family, that you need to stop. 500 words or fewer. (I exceeded this limit)

Here is my story!

FOR THE KIDS

At 5:45 AM thundering booms jar me awake. I roll over blinking the fog from my mind as I read the green glow of the clock.

BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!

I realize it’s my door being pounded on. I sit up alarmed, as I wonder who would be knocking. My phone rings to life and I see that it is my brother calling. Instinctively I answer.

“Hello?” I grumble.

“Wes, wake up. Let me and the kids in. It’s freezing out here,” my brother Scott pleads.

I’m moving for my door before I even think, and find myself unbolting the lock. I swing it open as the blast of cold shocks me awake in spite of my budding hangover.

“Uncle Wesley!” squeal my niece and nephew as they spill through the door and each wraps themselves around one of my legs.

“Because of the snow Dad says we get to play with you all day!”

I look up at my brother with eyes full of betrayal.

“Wes, you know I wouldn’t ask you if I didn’t absolutely need it. School is closed today and I need the kids with someone I trust,” he explains. “I can’t take the day off and I know you need the money anyway.”

He stuffs a few hundred dollars in my hand. I look at my older brother and see the determination in his eyes. His mind was made up before he ever got here. I know his job in the service is important, and he knows that I’m in between jobs. I’m not sure who is doing who the favor here.

“No problem. I can take care of the munchkins today. I mean they can be pretty self sufficient,” I assure both my brother and myself.

He gives the kids a hug and tells them to look after me with a wink. If I’m ever a father I hope I’m like him. He leaves quickly and I’m left staring at Aubrey and Jackson. They size me up and I realize I’m going to need coffee.

“You two hungry?” I ask as I fill a coffee pot.

Jackson doesn’t answer, he is fixed on my Xbox but hasn’t the courage to ask. Aubrey on the other hand is full of energy. She smiles at me with gleeful eyes.

“I will have some coffee.”

“I doubt that Aub, how about some cereal?” I counter offer.

She concedes and I make the same for Jackson. I set Aubrey’s down on the table and Jackson’s on the coffee table. His eyes light up as I turn on the video games for him.

“I could use some help on my gamer score Jackson. Just don’t tell dad.”

He just snatches up the controller while Aubrey happily eats her breakfast. It occurs to me that it isn’t even 6:00 AM and these two are wide awake and beaming. I pour coffee into my mug and sit next to my eight year old niece. I take a long sip off the scalding liquid and use it to chase an aspirin.

“You seem awfully excited. You this happy to be off of school?”

“Daddy is helping Mommy be happy in heaven,” Aubrey squeals.

I nearly drop the coffee.

“What did you say?”

Jackson looks up, and in the sternest five year old voice I’ve ever heard tells his sister to hush. She blushes trying to hold her excitement back. It’s like trying to turn a river off with a sink faucet.

“It’s okay,” I nudge her. “What do you mean?”

Their mother was murdered three and a half years ago. It was a random act of violence that shocked a community. The killer was never caught, and my brother has never let it go. For a brief time he had seemed almost happy again, but lately a bitter Scott was leaking through. He had been working a lot lately, and now I finally wanted to know on what.

“Daddy says he found another bad man, and he is going to make it fair again,” she explains as she stirs her milk.

Behind me I hear gunshots as Jackson plays a violent game. I’d pause to rethink that if I wasn’t so rattled about what Aubrey had revealed. I snatch my phone and disappear into the other room. I’m frantically dialing with shaking hands. The phone rings for an eternity until Scott picks up on the other end.

“Are the kids okay?”

“They’re fine; except for they think you’re going to kill somebody. What are you doing?” I demand.

“They don’t know anything and neither should you.”

“Scott, killing somebody isn’t going to bring her back!”

“What do you know? I see her every time I look at my kids. They deserve to know that whoever took their mom away has paid for it. I’m going to make sure this time. This has to be the right guy.”

“What do you mean this time? Scott stop it. You can’t do this.” I plead.

“Take care of my kids until I get back. It will be over soon.”

The line goes dead.

Thanks for reading. I hope you liked it. Leave me some comments to let me know what you thought or how I could improve!