Thursday, June 30, 2016

Flash Fiction Friday, Week 44: Family Secrets

The prompt this week was to write a story that began with one of the following sentences, and the genre was paranormal. The choices were:

1.      1. I wondered why that particular closet door had been nailed shut.
2.      2. They would never believe it had been her fault.
3.      3. He had to find a way to stop them from demolishing the house.
4.      4. She knew she had to find the necklace.
5.      5. The box was left at the front door, and had no return address.

I chose Sentence #1. I hope you enjoy.

Family Secrets

I wondered why that particular closet door had been nailed shut. The closet was located next to the back door in the kitchen. I attributed it to my aunt’s progressively failing awareness of reality. She had lived in this house alone for the past 15 years, and had lain dead in it for a week and a half before her body had been discovered. If it hadn’t been for a ruptured gas line in the area that required entry, her body still might not have been found.

I had never met my mother’s sister. My mother told me when Aunt Sarah married Howard Sandville 15 and a half years ago, and moved to this house on the hill miles from Sawyer’s Mill, no good would ever come of either the marriage or her future. Turns out Mom had been right on both counts.

Sarah had announced to the folks in town that her husband had run off six months after their wedding with their maid. She had also made it clear that visitors would not be welcome. She advised the local shops that should she need any supplies, orders would be phoned in, and the delivery staff were to leave the items at her front door. Invoices were to be included with the delivery, and payment would be sent by return mail.

Aunt Sarah’s will, discovered in a file box on the desk in the master bedroom, stated the house and property were to go to her sister. Mom wanted nothing to do with any of it, and when Mom died, Aunt Sarah’s home was left to me. The lawyer told me Sarah wanted the house torn down after she died. He hadn’t added that stipulation to the will since her requests at that point changed from day to day. He said the house was mine and I could do with it as I wished. I decided to check the place out. On my brief walkthrough, everything had appeared to be quite normal, with the exception of the nailed closet door.

Since Sawyer’s Mill was a small town, I figured everybody knew everybody’s business, so I spoke with as many people as I could to get some background on the house and my aunt. Everyone I spoke to told me the place was haunted. I wasn’t sure where they got that idea since I hadn’t seen any furniture floating or heard any moaning and groaning when I was there. They seemed genuinely concerned for my safety though so I told them I had a friend who knew how to communicate with the spirit world. I told them I’d make sure I had her with me when I next went into the house.

My friend Janie held séances, and I figured she’d jump at the chance to join me in a real haunted house. I was right as rain because she arrived two days later. I had always admired Janie’s showmanship. Whenever she held a séance, she’d invite me to sit in – to help the spirits feel more comfortable, she said. I always looked forward to the terrifying shrieks and sinister laughter, along with the ominous answers to the clients’ questions. At the end of each session, I would tease her, but she would insist it was all genuine, and told me one day, the opportunity would present itself for her to convince me of her psychic ability.

When we entered through the front door, I headed for the kitchen. I was going to show Janie all the beautiful china displayed in the cabinet. Suddenly, I felt Janie grab my left arm, pulled me back toward her, and turned me around to face her. She had tears streaming down her face.

“Lilly, they are in so much pain and terribly alone. They are seeking peace, and you are the one to find it for them.”

This time, I failed to see the humor.

“Janie, cut it out. You’re scaring me for real this time.”

“No, you don’t understand. I’m not playacting. I’ve told you I’m for real. I’m a genuine sensitive. Maybe a couple of my weird noises at séances are for dramatic effect, but there’s no drama here. There are spirits in this house who cannot rest because…because…”

Janie fainted. I panicked. I knelt down and felt her pulse, and it was racing. It suddenly became very warm in the foyer, so I decided to open the front door to let in a breeze. I got close to the door and was faced with the shimmering image of a person. I couldn’t tell if it was male or female, only that is was shaped like a human being, but with no discernible facial features. Its hands were outstretched, palms up, as if to stop me.

I hadn’t seen anything like that when I went through the house before. I reached through it, grabbed the doorknob and opened the door. A cool breeze filled the entry way and when I looked down at Janie, she started to come around. I looked back toward the door, and the image had vanished. Oddly, that encounter hadn’t frightened me.

“Are you okay, Janie? Do you need a doctor?”

“I’m not ill, Lilly,” Janie said as she got up from the floor. “I saw something horrible and it overwhelmed me. Something horrific happened in this house. Those who are trapped continue to grow weaker. Didn’t you say your aunt wanted this house torn down?”

“That’s what her lawyer told me.”

“Don’t, Lilly. I sense that if you do, the secret will never be unlocked and those who roam here will be forever lost.”

“What did you say, Janie, about a secret?”

“It needs to be unlocked. That’s what I’m sensing. There is a barrier to the truth that must be broken. It must be soon though. I sense there are two of them, but only one now has the strength left to make itself be seen for brief periods. When you were here before, did you notice anything unusual or out of place?”

The nailed closet door. If the place was haunted though, which it obviously was, surely Aunt Sarah didn’t nail a door shut thinking it would keep the spirits inside, or did she? I had no idea when it was nailed shut, so maybe it was on one of those days when her mind went out for a stroll without her.

“By the back door, Janie, there’s a closet that’s been nailed shut. Is that what you meant?”

“Oh my God,” Janie started to cry again. “Yes. Nailed shut. Confined. Trapped. Left to die.”

I felt someone, or something, behind me gently putting arms around my neck. It was almost a comforting gesture. I knew I was on the right track. I looked through drawers in the kitchen and found a hammer that had the forked edge on the side used to remove nails. Janie grabbed a pair of pliers and a flashlight and together we removed all the nails. At first glance, it hadn’t seemed like so many, but removing them made me realize she had definitely wanted to keep whatever was behind the door inside forever.

When the last nail was out, I opened the door. It was only an empty closet, and not a very big one at that, with a hook at the back. What kind of secret was hidden here? I looked closely at the top and the bottom thinking perhaps there were trap doors, but there was nothing. Out of pure instinct, I pulled at the hook and the panel pulled back. There was a small hidden room behind this closet. Janie shined the flashlight into the small room.

My stomach turned. Inside were two skeletons, sitting against the wall, arms around each other. A wallet was next to one and a small handbag next to the other, both containing identification. I knew why Aunt Sarah wanted the house torn down. It was so no one would find the remains of her husband and his lover, the maid, who had both disappeared years before. Sarah had locked them both in that room, closed the panel, and nailed the door shut. With no visitors permitted and being so far from neighbors, no one would have heard them if they screamed. Both their bodies decaying behind that wall, and still she continued to live in that house. Unbelievable.

I planned to notify the police, even though there would be no one to prosecute. At least, their families and friends would know the truth. I also planned to give them both a decent burial – side by side. I believed that’s what they would have wanted. I felt arms around me again, and as I turned, the image behind me briefly flickered, then faded for the last time. Now they finally would have the peace they sought and so richly deserved.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Flash Fiction Friday, Week 43: Happy Father's Day

The prompt this week was as follows, with a genre of horror:

This Sunday is Father’s Day, and it is defined as ‘a day on which fathers are particularly honored by their children, especially with gifts and greeting cards’. Unfortunately, that was never possible for you because when you were growing up, your father was rarely home. He was always on the road with his job, and in his profession, holidays were an especially busy time.

Your dad’s finally retired, and you want to make this Father’s Day the most special day he’s ever had. You’ve got the whole day planned, and it will be just the two of you. He is going to be so surprised, and you can hardly wait.

Prompt: Tell us all about how you spend Father’s Day.

Happy Father’s Day

“Pops, are you comfortable?”


“Great. I’m so glad. It’s going to be just the two of us because Mom is resting. We’ve never been able to spend Father’s Day together because you were always on the road. Now that you’re retired from the trucking company, there’s nothing to get in the way of our spending the entire day together.”


“Looking back, Pops, I remember when I was little and you’d go out on your pickup and delivery runs. You’d be gone sometimes for a week or two, and I missed you so much. Mom was terrific whenever you were away. She would take me to the park and out for ice cream.”


“The best time though was when you came back home for a day or two. I remember how you always brought Mom a present. You used to bring her the most beautiful jewelry. Sometimes it would be a necklace, and other times it would be a bracelet or earrings. Your job took you all over the country and wherever you were, you always remembered to pick something up for Mom.”


“I know you were always thinking of me too. My rock collection would never be the treasure it is today if you hadn’t brought me a rock from every state you visited. I loved the way you wrote the name of the state right on each rock and then told me where you found it. That made each one so special for me.”


“Things really changed when Mom became ill and took to her bed. Aunt Josie ended up coming to live with us to take care of Mom and me while you were working. She didn’t take me out as much as Mom did, but we still had some good times. All those years while I was in school, she helped out so much with Mom. When I was away at college, I knew I would be able to devote myself completely to my studies and not have to worry about her.”


“I’m glad that we finally have time to talk. Not long before you retired, you spent more and more time away from home, so I didn’t have the opportunity to give you any news, I met a wonderful girl during my senior year and we fell in love with each other. I asked her to marry me and she accepted. The plan was for us to marry following graduation. We had our wedding all planned, but first, we both wanted to go home for a visit and let our families know about our engagement.”


“I came home to tell you and Mom, and Melissa, that’s her name, told me she was going to hitch back to her parents’ home to tell them all about me. I told her that was a crazy and very dangerous thing to do, but she wanted one last big adventure. She was that type of girl, you see. She was so full of life and what she always dreamed of was getting married and raising a big family. I told her I would drive her home and then go home myself, or try to find a way to pay for a plane ticket for her, but she insisted on hitchhiking. I told her to call me every time she was near a phone until she got home.”


“She rode with me as far as the onramp of the interstate, kissed me goodbye, and headed to the shoulder to try to get a ride. I got on the highway and headed here. That was the last time I saw her alive. The next time I saw her was when I saw her picture in the newspaper after her body had been identified. The paper said she was another victim of the I-48 killer. She had been tortured, killed, and then dumped on the side of the highway just like all the others. They had all been hitchhiking. It was difficult for the police to catch this killer since I-48 runs through a lot of states and connects with so many other highways. I was heartbroken, Pops. She had been the love of my life.”


“I needed so badly to talk to someone about all this when I came home, but Aunt Josie didn’t want to hear anything about it. She said talking about murdered women frightened her. Since I had graduated and was back home, she decided to go back to living on her own. She said I could take care of Mom, or you could since you were going to be retiring soon. Pops, I felt so lost and felt very relieved when you came home from your last run.”


“True to form, even though I’m an adult now, you still brought me a rock with the state’s name written on it. Even though Mom’s so ill, you still brought her a lovely piece of jewelry. That necklace was gorgeous, with the gold chain and the special hand carved gold roses with the small diamonds in the center of each. I know those roses were hand carved, Pops, because I personally designed that particular necklace and had the store custom make it for Melissa.”


“I recognized the necklace as soon as you pulled it from your pocket, Pops. Did you take it from my fiancé before or after you killed her? I know you killed the others too. I didn’t say anything right away because I wanted to do some checking. You know, the Internet has lots of information on all your kills. When you look up the victims of the I-48 killer, the articles mention not only that they were all hitchhiking at the time, they also mention that a piece of jewelry was taken from each one, and provide a detailed description. All it took for me was a quick look into Mom’s jewelry box to know the truth about you.”


“Is that why Mom lost her mind, Pops? She took to her bed years ago with that vacant stare and hasn’t spoken a word since. Did she look too closely at the jewelry you brought her and make the connection with the victims? Did she figure out that her husband and the father of her child rode the highways looking for young girls to torture and kill? When was it that you picked them up? Was it in between picking up pallets of bread or delivering crates of bananas? You were always away over holidays too. Was that because there were more girls looking for rides to get home during those times?”


“You murdered all those young girls, including the girl I was going to marry. Mom was your victim too, you bastard, only you didn’t physically kill her, but you frightened her so badly that she retreated deep inside herself, so that’s almost the same thing. Well, it’s time for it all to come full circle, Pops. Today is Father’s Day and I’m going to give you the gift you deserve.”


“How’s that gag? I wouldn’t want it to interfere with you being able to breathe. No way are you going to die that easily. I want you conscious right up until the end. I’ve got the perfect day planned for us. I rented this truck for a full 24 hours and I also rented the freezer back here. I’ve had it plugged in so it would be nice and cold for our ride. That’s what that extension cord running from the garage was. Remember how you asked me about all of this and I told you I had a surprise for you?”


“Well, let me tell you all about how we’re going to spend your special day. I’m going to put you inside the freezer and drive all over I-48 until you’re nice and stiff. Then, I’m going to pull over at all the spots where you had dumped the bodies of those young girls and I’m going to break off a piece of you and leave one at each spot. Understand? An arm here and a leg there – some part of you to pay for what you did to each one. Our last stop will be where you dumped Melissa, and that’s where I’ll dump the last of you.”


“Our neighbor, Mrs. Hopper, is going to stay with Mom while we’re on our road trip. When I get back, I’m going to get Mom into a home where she can be cared for 24 hours a day by medical personnel. Maybe there’s some way they can bring her back to me. Are you ready? Let’s get you into this freezer and head to the onramp of I-48. I’m so looking forward to our last trip together. Wait. Before I forget. Happy Father’s Day, Pops.”


Thursday, June 16, 2016

Flash Fiction Friday, Week 42: Letting Go

The prompt this week was to write a story about something important being lost. Sometimes by losing something we believe has value above all else, something even more valuable is found.


Since she hadn’t spoken one word to me on the way to the restaurant, during dinner, or on the ride home, I assumed the evening had gone well. There had been no complaints and no recriminations; so, it really took me by surprise when I heard her scream from her bedroom. She had gone in there to hang up her coat, and I wondered if that was the moment she realized she’d actually left the house and returned in one piece. It had been almost two years since she’d gone outside. I ran into her bedroom and found her slumped in a corner grabbing at her chest.

“Are you all right? When did the pain start? Don’t worry because I’m going to call an ambulance right now.”

“No, Daniel. No pain. Look what happened. You have to get it back right away.”

She was holding the gold chain around her neck with one hand and the other hand was waving wildly in the air. Her breathing became irregular and she began to cry.

“I hope you’re happy,” she said between sobs, her tone angry and accusatory. “You knew how much that meant to me and now it’s gone. You pulled it off when you bumped into me, didn’t you? How could you be so cruel? What am I supposed to do now?”

I finally realized what was causing her so much concern. The heart-shaped locket she had worn every day for the past 30 years was gone. Apparently the clasp had broken and separated from the chain. Her husband had given her that piece of jewelry on their wedding night. Within the past couple of years however, it had taken on a special meaning.

“How can you say that? I know how much that locket meant to you. You’ve been wearing that every day. Sooner or later, it was bound to fall off. I know you had it on when we left this evening. I don’t remember if it was still on there while we were eating. I’m going to call the restaurant and ask them to check under the table. Maybe that’s where it fell off.”

“Don’t waste your time. I know I had it in the restaurant because when I went to the restroom and washed my hands, some water splashed on it and I blotted it dry with a paper towel. It was taken from me on our way back to the car. Remember when you bumped into me on the sidewalk? That’s when you pulled it from the chain.”

“I did no such thing. I accidentally bumped into you because there was something on the sidewalk and I tripped. How can you accuse me? You know, in a way, this might be the best thing that could have happened because maybe we can finally bring out into the open what’s been going on. You and I haven’t had a real conversation about anything since the funeral. I’ve tried to be patient and understanding, but this situation has reached a point where it is so far beyond bizarre that it has me frightened; not of you, but for you.”

“Now you’re saying I’m crazy? Is that it?”

“Of course not. I just feel that you’ve let yourself be so overcome with grief that you’ve lost touch with reality. Listen to what you’ve been saying. You’ve actually accused me of deliberately causing you to lose something that I know is very important to you. Tell me that you don’t really believe I would hurt you that way.”

“That locket and what it contained was all I had left of Jack, and you knew that. You kept telling me over and over to get rid of it. Since I refused, you made sure it would be lost. It’s somewhere in the city now, probably kicked from the sidewalk into the street, run over again and again by strangers in their cars and…”

“Stop. You know it wasn’t the locket I asked you to get rid of; it was what was inside of it. That flower had turned to dust and it gave off the most offensive odor.”

“Lies. All lies. You don’t know anything. Yes, my husband gave me that locket on our wedding night, but do you know why that flower was so important to me?”

“Yes, I do. I know all about how…”

“It was our 28th anniversary and we went out for dinner. On the way to the car, Jack wanted to take the long way around and go through the park. He had proposed to me on a bench by one of the ponds and he wanted to go back there just for a moment.”

“That was a wonderful thing. You told me when you got to the bench, he asked you to sit down so he could…”

“When we found that bench, he asked me to sit down, and as hard as it was for him with his arthritis, he got down on one knee and proposed to me all over again. There was a tree next to it with beautiful little flowers on it, and he picked one and handed it to me.”

“He always loved you very much. He would often…”

“When we started back on the trail, that’s when those awful boys with the knives came along and told him they wanted his wallet. He gave it to them, but still they…I know why they…”

“You don’t have to go through this again. It’s too…”

“They kept stabbing him and I kept screaming until those other people came to help, but those boys ran away. All the police and the questions and the blood all over my coat. They kept my coat, you know. Said it was evidence. I don’t know why, but I reached in the pocket before they took it off me and there was the flower. I don’t remember putting it in there, but there it was.”

“I know, and that’s when you put the little flower in the locket where it’s been ever since. I understand, but it’s gone beyond the locket and the flower. Until tonight, you haven’t been out of this house since the funeral and it’s been two years. You have everything delivered to the door, and if I didn’t bring you the mail, a couple of years’ worth of it would still be sitting in the box at the end of the driveway. His clothes are still in the closet, and everything is as it was before he died. This house hasn’t been a home since he was buried; it is a tomb, and you are the corpse inside of it.”

“I can’t believe I let you talk me into leaving the only safe place I have in the world, and look what happened because of it. My locket and my flower are lost now. My life is lost now, and it’s all because of you. How could I have been so foolish to trust you?”

“Mom, your life is not lost. A piece of jewelry and a dead flower have been lost. Yes, they were both important to you, but they were your things. They were not your life. You’ve never been able to move forward since Dad died. I won’t rattle off the so-called normal stages of grief because there’s nothing normal about grief. But you’ve convinced yourself that you could only go on as long as you had that locket and remnants of a flower. Now that they’re gone, you’re gone too?”

“You don’t know what’s it’s been like. You never grieved for him.”

“Mom, you don’t mean that. He was my father – the best father anyone could ever have. I think about him and miss him still. But life does go on. It moves forward. It must. You have resigned from the land of the living and that’s so wrong. I don’t believe in signs and fate and all, but perhaps the loss of the locket and the remains of the flower is a way to make you realize it’s time to let go.”

“You want me to forget him and just go on like he never existed?”

“Of course not. Letting go doesn’t mean forgetting. It simply means to let the memory of him go where it belongs, and that is to a special place in your heart.”

“I’m just scared.”

“I know, Mom, but don’t worry. We’ll move forward together.”

“My locket and my flower, they are both lost, aren’t they?”

“Yes, Mom, they are, but not you. Not anymore.”

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Flash Fiction Friday, Week 41: In Plain Sight

The prompt this week was to write a story set in the old West and to include the following words: Gunfire, territories, blacksmith, ranch, and stampede. My story is about a Sheriff who believes in righting a wrong, no matter how long it takes.

In Plain Sight

Moving from our comfortable home and my comfortable job in the East, out to the territories was my wife’s idea. She’s always been the adventurous one. Her lady friends were all content to be married to a man who came home for supper each evening. Not my wife, Mary, though. Don’t misunderstand me; we’re the happiest couple I know, but she never wanted me to do what she considered ordinary work. I was already Sheriff of our small town when we met, and I was prepared to give that up after our wedding since most women are full of fear for their men when they’re the law. My wife told me if I quit, she’d quit me. It’s important to keep folks safe, she said. I’m proud of my husband for keeping the peace, she said. You know, I’m proud of her for that.

So our wedding came and went, and I stayed on as Sheriff of our little town. Lots of folks traveling out West these days to look for bigger and better. Nice folks mostly, but there’s some bad ones too, which is why Mary said we need to go out there too. Right now, she said, they need more lawmen, so we packed up and headed West. We’re starting life over here in a little town that’s close to Ridge Rock Mountain – a little piece of Heaven on Earth. This town’s still building up and needed someone to keep it in line, so I presented myself to the Mayor. He, in turn, presented me with a badge.

The wife and I are doing well. We have a house just outside of town. She enjoys planting her vegetables and flowers, and I enjoy my walks through town, checking on folks and their businesses, and making sure our town drunk gets tucked safely in at night in my jail. It’s a good life, but I will always have one big regret: A killer I didn’t catch. Not long before we left the East, our town’s bank was robbed. It normally didn’t hold a lot of cash because the town was small, and the bank didn’t handle any large payrolls. This time, though, the owner of a big ranch out West was finalizing the sale of a large piece of land and several hundred heads of cattle. He planned to deposit the money in banks along the way as he traveled back home. Word spreads like wildfire these days and two men decided they would help themselves to this man’s fortune.

I had already closed up the office and gone home. I was almost asleep when I heard gunfire from the direction of town. I got there in time to see two men on horseback with sacks of money hanging from their saddles. When I fired, they turned around, and I got a clear look at both of them. One fired back and hit me in the shoulder. Before I passed out, I saw Davy Michals, the bank’s night guard, lying dead in the street. He still had rope tied around one hand. They had broken in, tied Davy up, took the money, and were on their way out when Davy got loose and tried to stop them.

The bank had no big safe like most, so all that cash had been locked up in the Manager’s office. How did they know it was there? They were never caught and the money was never found, but I never forgot their faces. One was clean shaven and had dark hair and the other had light hair and a big scar across his left cheek. Davy was a good man with a wife and a young son. He deserved justice, and the man who killed him deserved to hang.

We’ve got excitement coming since a big cattle drive is camped outside of town. Cowboys will be heading in to drink. They usually don’t bring a lot of trouble. They’re around for a night or two, and most of them stay out at their camp. The saloon and stores welcome their business. It brings a bit of money into town and that’s always a good thing. I was coming out of Rosie’s after having lunch when I saw some of them riding in. I couldn’t believe my eyes. The one at the back was the man who killed Davy 6 months ago. What was he doing out here working as a cowboy, and what happened to the money he stole? Too, where was his partner? I decided to get to know their foreman and treat him to pie and coffee at Rosie’s.

The foreman told me a couple days’ ride back, there was a stampede. When they had arrived in the town, the local blacksmith, whose name was Jeremiah, and who had a big scar across his cheek, seemed to recognize one of their riders whose name was Willie. Willie seemed bothered by the man, who insisted they go somewhere to talk. Later that night, the herd got spooked and ran off in the direction of the north end of town. The foreman told me they managed to settle the cattle down, but not before they ran right through the blacksmith’s house, destroying it, and his small crop. Jeremiah was found dead inside, trampled to death.

He said Willie was still with them, and described him as having dark hair and always being clean shaven. I said nothing because I knew exactly which one Willie was and why Jeremiah had been killed. Splitting the money two ways didn’t sit right with him. But where was the money, and why had one of them been working as a blacksmith and the other as a cowboy? I needed to make sure Willie got what he deserved, but not at the risk of having a herd of cattle stampede through my home or my town. He was a killer who wouldn’t hesitate to use any means to eliminate someone who could identify him, or arrest him. He hadn’t seen me when he came into town, so right now, I was holding the winning hand. But, where to go from here?

I found out over a second piece of Rosie’s pie when the foreman told me Willie was a poor soul too. He told me Willie did all he could to go on this particular drive since it would pass by Ridge Rock Mountain. Said his younger brother had been killed in one of the big caves up there by some Indians and he wanted to pay his respects. Some of the men offered to ride up there with him since it was rough country, but Willie told them he had to go alone. It was his duty to honor his kin. There have never been any Indians in that area. I knew exactly what I needed to do.


“Hello, Willie, if that’s really the name your folks gave you.”

I stepped out of the shadows in the cave just as Willie walked up to the entrance.

“What do you want, lawman? Can’t a man find some peace in these parts?”

If only peace was what he was after.

“I found the satchels of money from the bank robbery that you hid in here. That was real smart too. After the robbery, you kept on riding until you found a good hiding place. Then the two of you separated, worked like regular folks, and waited, hoping nobody would be looking for you after all that time. So, what went wrong? Did your partner want his share too soon for your liking? Is that why you used a herd of cattle to get him out of the way?”

“I know you, lawman. I put a bullet in you when I was leaving the bank. I should’ve gone back and put in one more. Doesn’t matter now though. This is as far as you get.”

He pulled his gun on me.

“Drop those satchels, Sheriff, and don’t reach for your gun because you’ll be dead before those bags hit the ground.”

“No, you drop your gun because this is as far as you get,” his foreman said, as the rest of the cowboys stepped out of the shadows behind me.

“We’re trying to make a living to feed our families, and all you were after was money,” the foreman continued. “You killed a bank guard, shot the Sheriff, and used my herd to kill your partner. You could have killed us all.”

Willie appeared to be lowering his gun, then raised it up and took aim at all of us. I lost count of all the shots that were fired in his direction. I plan to make sure all that money gets back to the bank safe and sound. Too bad Willie won’t be going back along with it. I guess the thought of his neck at the end of a hangman’s noose didn’t appeal to him as much as it appealed to me. Rest in peace, Davy, my friend. Rest in peace.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Flash Fiction Friday, Week 40: S.O.S.

This week, we were sent on an exploratory mission. Our journey might lead us to another planet, another universe, or even take us through time. It was our call. Regardless of our destination, we were asked to write up details of our mission, and use the format of a Captain's Log. The genre was Sci-Fi.

My story is about a signal received from another world.



2135, 23 MAR 1615 H……….Signal received from beyond Black Arc……….Origin: Location #QR94xxxB9……….Atmosphere compatible with Earth……….S.O.S/no clarification……….System confirms 10 identical signals received past 10 years/Frequency: Annual/Earth time measurement……….Shuttles dispatched……….No shuttles retrieved/all crew classified MIA……….No reports or data available/corrupted?..........No rescue(s) of inhabitants documented……….Further access denied..........Will proceed with caution following arrival……….mjoENDTRANS

2135, 16 DEC 2100 H……….Touchdown achieved……….Instrumentation reveals no immediate danger……….Unable to seek origin of signal due to zero visibility……….Planet has 48 hours (Earth time measurement) of day from its sun and 48 hours (Earth time measurement) of night……….Instruments show we are mid-way through night cycle……….Were advised by Mission Control to begin search for possible distress immediately on arrival……….My orders were to dispatch entire crew……….I take full responsibility for disobeying said order……….I will not leave shuttle unattended or place entire crew in jeopardy……….Ronny and Sam will initiate search/both fully armed and are to remain together……….Report back within 2 hours……….mjoENDTRANS

2135, 16 DEC 2245 H……….Communication received from Ronny……….They were met by Ardisians (inhabitants of this planet)……….They were advised S.O.S. sent in error……….No danger present……….I advised their immediate return……….Contacted Mission Control to request further orders……….mjoENDTRANS

2135, 17 DEC 0800 H……….No response from Mission Control……….Ronny and Sam have not returned……….Unable to reach them……….Unsure how to proceed……….Plan is to wait for daylight……….Noises outside/did not investigate due zero visibility……….Shuttle on total lockdown……….mjoENDTRANS

2135, 17 DEC 2115 H……….Still no response from Mission Control……….Still no response from Ronny or Sam……….Day cycle has begun, but light dim……….Limited visibility..........George and Brian investigated area around Shuttle and reported damage to hull, landing gear doors, and landing gear……….Jonny will assess damage/attempt to determine cause/evaluate feasibility of repairs……….mjoENDTRANS

2135, 17 DEC 2400 H……….Still unable to contact Ronny or Sam……..No response from Mission Control……….No contact with Ardisians……….George and Brian dispatched on search for Ronny and Sam and/or Ardisian representative……….Advised both must report status within 2 hours……….Jonny cannot determine cause of damage/damage is extensive/repairs will be time-intensive and difficult without stronger light source……….I have requested immediate response and assistance from Mission Control……….Used Code Override CX5957……….I take full responsibility for violation of protocol, but I advised we are in distress and in need of immediate assistance……….Crew members missing and unable to be reached……….mjoENDTRANS

2135, 18 DEC 0300 H……….George and Brian have not returned and I have received no communication from them……….Still unable to contact Ronny or Sam……….No response from Mission Control……….I fear for the safety of my crew and the security of our craft……….I do not understand lack of response from Mission Control……….I do not believe initial communication was from Ronny……….No data on Ardisians available……….Still cannot retrieve data from previous missions……….Doubts about purpose of this mission……….mjoENDTRANS

2135, 18 DEC 0600 H…….…Not much time……….Mission Control confirmed our purpose……….Ardisians hold annual event/death matches……….Ardisians possess powerful weapons……….Guarantee safety of planet Earth if Earth provides seven human fighters per year……….Entrances sealed/not holding……….Seal has been broken…….…Hull has been breached…….…They are close……….We can  hear them……….Richie, Jonny and I will use our sidearms now……….On ourselves……….We have all been betrayed by our own kind..........We are not the first..........But we will be the last..........mjoEND TRANS