The Gift. Short Story.

“Get the Gift! It will change your life!”
Brian stood at the bus stop, the advertisement blaring out behind him, he didn’t need to turn to picture the smiling face that no doubt filled the bus shelter. She was young, with short, red hair, a smattering of freckles across her nose and piercingly bright blue eyes. “I got the gift about three years ago now, I was one of the first through, I can say, without a doubt, that it has improved my life immeasurably. There’s been no downsides, nothing. I feel like a brand new person, before I got The Gift I felt like I was just floating through life, waiting for something to happen. Not anymore, now I run my own business and I know exactly what I want from life. I definitely didn’t have the confidence to try anything like that before hand but The Gift spurred me on, made me want to better myself. I think it even might have made me smarter!” the woman laughed, it was contagious and despite himself Brian smiled. Someone off screen was asking if she’d recommend the Gift to others. “Oh definitely. One hundred percent. It changed my life and it will change theirs too.”
The bus pulled up at the stop, Brian got on and found a seat. He had been mulling over the idea for a few weeks now, maybe he should go get the Gift. It wasn’t that expensive, a downright bargain really and there had been no negative side effects yet. The world was changing rapidly with the introduction of telekinesis and he didn’t want to be left behind did he? One of those stubborn people who refused to enter The Void and get The Gift just because. He stared out the window, watching the people on the sidewalk. He spotted a young girl giggling while a balloon floated around her, just out of reach. He wasn’t sure if she was controlling it or her father, who was standing nearby with a small smile on his face as he watched her play. He saw a woman stumble, her coffee cup fell from her hand but it froze midair, before it could hit the ground, it floated back into her hand, the woman barely broke her stride. Maybe it really would be for the best, and he’d probably be able to pick up a job easily enough, employers couldn’t get enough of those who had The Gift.

Brian shifted in his seat, sitting back and looking straight ahead, he could still remember the furore that surrounded The Void when it was first discovered, how scientists were baffled by it and of course the many cults that seemed to spring up around it. They had been in the middle of running another battery of tests when Jonathan Cross, a young assistant, had tripped over some unsecured wiring and fallen right through. He popped out the other side a few seconds later, pale and shaky with no memory of what had happened, one second he was on one side of The Void, the next he was on the other. He had felt faint and needed to sit down, without thinking he sat, the chair that was five feet away slid across the carpeted floor and was under him just in time. He was the first recorded human with telekinesis and since then the number had only grown. One company controlled access to the Void, and charged a thousand dollars for someone to walk through. A small price to pay for what you would be receiving. Really the record spoke for itself, no injuries, no fatalities, in fact they’d even caught cancer in more than a few pre-screenings.

Brian looked at his watch, his stop was coming up soon, but he did have time and the money was there in his account. He hesitated, just long enough for his stop to pass by and the decision was made for him.

Twenty minutes later he stood outside the non-descript building, it looked like any other high-rise surrounding it, except for the large banner above the doors, “Welcome to The Void!” The sign sent a shiver down his spine, whoever had decided on that slogan obviously wasn’t the brightest bulb, something about it made him uneasy. He almost turned around but then he spotted a small sign, “This way to receive the Gift.”, a black arrow pointed off to the left. With his heart thudding heavily in his chest he started walking.

The reception was as non-descript as the building itself, a thin grey carpet covered the floor, a few signs were dotted about and in the middle of it all was a large, long desk, behind which sat a row of receptionists. Brian followed the sign for the gift and found himself at a smaller reception desk off to the side.
“Hello and welcome to The Void, are you here to receive The Gift?”
“Hi, yes I am.”
“Ok great, do you have an appointment?”
“No, is that ok?”
“Yes, that’s perfectly fine, we have an open door policy but some people do like to book ahead in case we are particularly busy.” A clip board zipped out from underneath her desk and floated in front of him, “Please fill out all these forms and then we’ll have a doctor bring you through to examine you.”
“Thank you and please have a wonderful day.” The phone to her right started to ring, the woman didn’t look away from her computer screen as the phone gently lifted itself from the handset and floated to her ear. Brian turned from the desk and went to the small seating area across from it. The forms weren’t as complex as he expected them to be, it asked for his basic details, if he had any medical issues and of course, how exactly he would be paying. Once he had completed them he brought them back to the receptionist, she flicked through it quickly, “Ok, I see that you will be paying via card, if you would place it in the card reader please.”
Brian pulled out his wallet, fished out his card and put it into the machine, “Ok, the payment is a thousand dollars, if that is acceptable, please put your pin into the machine.” Brian typed his pin in and the woman passed him a slip of paper with a number on it, he took his card and the number, “a doctor will be with you shortly.” The receptionist gestured at the chairs and Brian went and sat down again. He looked at the number, it was 780, he looked at the small red numbers on the screen, they were at 779. He was next. Before he had time to start second guessing himself a man in a white coat came out of a door that seemed to blend into the wall and he called out “Number 780?” Brian stood and followed the man through the door.

Brian was brought to a small room with white walls and white tiles on the floor, there was a faint smell of bleach. Inside the room was a small bed, a desk and a few machines Brian couldn’t identify. The doctor sat behind the desk and gestured at the seat across from him. Brian sat down and after the doctor located his file, it began. The medical was over quickly, much faster than Brian expected. The doctor asked a few questions, tested his reflexes and gave him a scan. “Normally we are a bit more thorough, but I see you recently went for a physical at your own doctors, everything looks to be in order.”
“You can see that?”
“Oh yes, we requested your records, you signed a waiver on your forms. I actually prefer when people get their own tests done, speeds things up here. I find people can get surprisingly frustrated having to wait for the results.”
“Honestly I wouldn’t mind waiting a little longer.”
The doctor paused, “Are you sure you want to go through with it? It’s irreversible as far as we know. If you are uncomfortable or want to think it over you can come back another day, we can either refund your money now or hold it as a deposit for up to a year if you would like to come back another day.”
“No, thank you. I think if I left I wouldn’t come back.”
The doctor chuckled, “We get a lot of people feeling that way. Don’t worry though, it’s completely painless and it only takes about three seconds.”
“Did you do it?”
“Oh yes, I was among the first. It really has made my life so much easier, in a lot of unexpected ways too. I definitely don’t regret it and honestly, I’ve yet to hear of someone who has.”
Brian nodded distractedly, he felt like it was a practised sales pitch, one to keep him soothed but he didn’t care. They had already sold him on it, now he just wanted it to be over. The doctor nodded to himself, “Ok, I think that is everything, you’re good to go. One word of warning though, The Void itself is a bit…difficult. You’ll see what I mean when you see it. You might feel a bit of nausea, maybe some light headedness. Don’t worry, it has that effect on everyone.”
A young woman entered, “Ah Penny, would you please bring Mr. Smith up?”
The woman smiled at Brian, she looked vaguely familiar to him. She had long black hair and tanned skin, her eyes were a light shade of brown, she wore a white short sleeved top and a pair of white trousers. “Right this way Mr. Smith.”
Brian stood and together they left the room. Penny walked through the corridors with quick efficiency and even though she was a good head shorter than he Brian had to walk quickly to keep up. She led them to a bank of elevators, there she pressed a button and swiped a key card, the doors of the elevator slid open and they stepped inside. “Nervous?”
“A little.”
“I think everyone is. I was before I went through, I was terrified. I almost backed out at the last second. I’m glad I didn’t though.”
“How long has it been since you went through?”
“Not too long, about six months, just before I started working here actually.”
the elevator slowed and the doors opened, they were here.

The room was large and as he stepped out Brian realised that the room itself consisted of the entire floor. In the centre of the room was a large black doorway, around it were machines and wires. The door itself was about eight foot tall and four feet across. It was a solid, matt black. It felt wrong. Penny lead him to the doorway, there she stood to the side, “When you’re ready just step through.”
“That’s it?”
“That’s it.”
The doctor had been right, looking at it made Brian’s head hurt a little, it throbbed dully as he moved around the door. At the edge he stopped, he could still see it, but just barely, it was as though someone had drawn a thin, black line through the air. Penny coughed gently, Brian gave her a slightly guilty grin. He went to the side of the door and after taking a deep breath he stepped through. He was cold, so cold and falling, down, down, down forever, infinite darkness, never-ending, he would never- he blinked at the sudden return of light. He looked around feeling a bit confused, he was on the other side of the doorway, Penny was standing there, smiling. “There, that wasn’t so bad, was it?”
Brian shivered, then shook his head, “No, it wasn’t.”
“There’s a water bottle there, could you please lift it?”
Brian took a step forward, already reaching for it when he paused, and simply thought about lifting it. The bottle rose slowly and jerkily, but it still rose.
Penny smiled, “it’ll take a little practise to get used to it, but as you can see most people are able to get the hang of it easily enough. If you want we do offer classes in how to build and improve your telekinesis.”
“I think I’m ok for now, thank you.”
Together they walked over to the elevators, one was already standing open. Inside there was a rack filled with folders, Penny grabbed one and handed it to Brian, across the blue folder, in large white letters was “Telekinesis and You! A guide for the recently Gifted.” He put it into his bag without looking at it.
“You might feel a bit tired over the next day or two, it’s just your body adapting, don’t worry it passes. If you have any questions or concerns please don’t hesitate to contact us, there’s also an emergency number inside that information packet if there is anything urgent, it is manned 24 hours a day.”
The elevator stopped and the doors opened, revealing the lobby.
“Thank you for choosing to receive the Gift, if you would like to take a moment we have a small café where you can have a coffee and something to eat. It’s over there, but if not I hope you enjoy the rest of your day.”
“Thanks, you too.”
Brian stepped out of the elevator, not noticing as the doors closed behind him. He felt a little disorientated, had he really done it? He thought about his phone and a second later it floated out of his pocket and into his hand. He shook his head and chuckled to himself. Already he didn’t know what he had been worried about, it was completely painless, he looked at the time, and it had only taken him twenty minutes in all. He stepped out of the building and, still feeling a little dazed, set off home.

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The City of Prosperity. Short Story.

The sun rose over the city of Prosperity, the first and only fully automated city. The tall glass buildings glinted in the dawn light, it could be seen from miles around, a shining beacon in the middle of the dreary, desolate wasteland that surrounded it. The walls were tall and even they shone in the light, a startlingly bright white against the dull, dark grey of the pitted ground surrounding it.

Inside the city blinds began to rise slowly, inside rooms small alarms started to play, getting louder as the time passed. The music was soft and classical, the name of it had long since been forgotten. A woman started speaking over the gentle music, “Good morning! It’s another lovely day here in the city of Prosperity! The sun will be out in full force today meaning it will be hot! Hot! Hot! With top temperatures today of 73 degrees and lows of 68. We advise that you only go outside if absolutely necessary and if you must do so, please wear protective gear and don’t forget the sun screen!” The woman chuckled lightly, “That rain still hasn’t reached us yet, but we hope it will in the next few days and coming with it will be cooler temperatures. Unfortunately we are still rationing for the foreseeable future, but I have heard from a very reliable source that at the upcoming Town Birthday Celebration there will be champagne for all who attend! That’s today’s weather and news update, I’ll be back tomorrow morning for your daily weather update! We hope you have a pleasant day!” The music slowly faded away. Inside bathrooms showers started, water thundering down onto clean white tiles. It ran for a moment, stopped for ten seconds, then ran for another moment before shutting off entirely. In the kitchen the smell of food filled the room as the breakfast arrived, it slid from the delivery hatch and onto the small table pressed against the wall. It sat there, cooling in the morning light, the grease on the eggs slowly congealing. Thirty minutes later the plates were swept from the table by the cleaners, the food was scraped into the reclamation hub that was beside the delivery hatch. Once the plates were scraped clean they were placed into the delivery hatch, where they would be whisked back to central for cleaning. Once they had finished their job the cleaners returned to their storage station in the walls. They were small, scuttling things that looked similar to ants and they were able to fulfil almost any task. A small whirring noise started as the automatic vacuum started up, once it was finished the mop would take over, keeping the tile floors sparkling clean. As they went about their task the cleaners swarmed through the rest of the house, checking for anything out of place that needed to be cleaned. The beds were already made, the sheets were only washed the day before, the shelves were dusted and everything was still neatly stored away. Everything was just as it should be. With their job done the cleaners returned to their hiding places, content to wait until they were needed again.

The city had been built over ten years, with every available luxury going and some that were only dreamed of. When the plans for the city were announced, the homes were sold out within hours. It was the place to live if you could afford it and there were plenty who could. In the weeks leading up to the grand opening those who were moving in were set up in hotels while their own belongings were brought to their house and arranged to their specifications. When the speeches were made and the ribbon was finally cut, you just had to walk in, find your place and then relax, everything else had been taken care of. The city was heralded as the true future of mankind and it was, for almost six hours. After dinner, specially selected for each residents taste, the cleaners emerged from their hiding spots and got to work, tidying up after all the humans. As people lounged in their sitting rooms, or at their tables, sipping their after dinner drinks, the cleaners got to work, getting rid of all the crumbs and dirt and dust the humans had brought with them. Their instructions were simple, basic, keep everything clean. In the aftermath no one knew what happened, only that the robots designed to make life easy had killed every man, woman and child in the city, leaving nothing, not even a drop of blood behind. Had an investigation been completed they would have found that it was the fault of Paul Franklin, deceased, who had been given one of the smaller homes as payment for his work. He was stressed, tired and under a tight deadline. He made one little mistake, the definition of pest had been too broad. At the time he had intended to double check everything but a personal phone call from Bob Mitnick, owner and general genius behind Prosperity, chewing him out over delays, Paul had decided that it was close enough. He had hung up the phone, pale and shaking, if the deal fell through his family would have no where to go and he had been threatened with a lawsuit if things weren’t delivered on time, they barely had anything as it was a lawsuit wouldn’t ruin them, it would destroy them completely. And so he finished his work, without double checking, sealing his own fate and that of all twenty million people in the city of Prosperity.

For years the city stayed as it was, both a monument to one mans hubris and a silent necropolis. Memorials were placed along the walls, but just as quickly as they were placed they were cleared away again by tiny scurrying machines. No one could get inside to dismantle the place for fear of death, there were tentative plans to destroy the city through explosives. Then tensions finally bubbled over, the bombs fell and there was no one left to destroy it. Some tried to journey to it, hoping that they could tame the strange creatures inside, but it was known as a dangerous place, a cursed one. The city of Prosperity continued to shine brightly in the scorching sun, looking as new as the day it was first built.

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We Need to Talk. Short Story.

Fiona looked at her phone, still nothing. She took a sip of her coffee, she scanned the small coffee shop again, it wasn’t like Jack to be late and he was the one who wanted to meet with her. She shifted in her chair slightly, she should have brought a book with her, but then he was always prompt, it wasn’t like she knew she’d be waiting this long. She sighed and wrapped her hands around her coffee mug, she still didn’t know what this was about, just that cryptic message of “We need to talk, are you free to meet at the Coffee Hut, tomorrow at 3?” and that was it. Had they been dating the message would have worried her but now she was just downright curious and feeling slightly impatient. He didn’t respond to any of her text last night when she asked if everything was ok, he hadn’t responded to her text letting him know she’d arrived either. She ran through scenarios again, trying to figure out what it could be. It was unlikely that someone had died or been injured, he’d have told her that straight away. Maybe he’d started seeing someone new? That seemed possible but still unlikely, why the secrecy surrounding it? And we need to talk was almost universal code for something bad.

Jack entered the coffee shop, he looked pale and haggard, he came directly over to her, Fiona stood, intending to give him a hug, but she paused, “Jack, are you ok? You look…tired.”
“Yeah. I’m fine. Thanks for coming. Look we can’t really speak here. Can you come with me please? It’s too public.”
“Uh, yeah, sure. Just let me grab a to-go cup for my coffee.”
Jack nodded then stood impatiently, shifting from one foot to the other while Fiona approached the tills. She returned a moment later and poured her half drunk coffee into the cup, as she was putting a lid on it Jack turned and walked out without looking back. Fiona grabbed her coffee and hurried after him, worried thoughts swirling through her head. Why did he look so tired? Why was he afraid of talking to her in the coffee shop? A thought flashed by, maybe the stress of his job had gotten to him and he’s finally snapped. As she stepped outside a gust of cold air blew past, as it did she pushed the thought away. Jack was under a lot of stress, he always was, but if it was a mental issue, it was going to be much more serious than him freaking out over something minor. Jack was hurrying ahead of her, Fiona had to half jog to keep up.
“Can you slow down? Or at least tell me what’s going on?”
“No, look I will, but not here ok? Sorry, my heads a bit all over the place. Long few days, I need to show you something, it needs to remain a secret for now but I need someone else to see it, to tell me I’m not crazy ok? Because I’m worried I might be going crazy. Maybe it’s just some elaborate joke or something. I don’t know.” While he talked he sped up a little more.

They arrived at his building a few minutes later, Fiona was breathing heavily, Jack seemed perfectly fine. They entered the building and quickly got into an elevator. As it went up Jack started fidgeting. “Ok, before we go look at what ever it is, I want you to take a moment and just take a few deep breaths ok? What ever is happening we’ll figure it out, but we can’t do that if you’re too stressed out.”
Jack shook his head, “just wait until you see it. Then you’ll understand.”
the elevator stopped and the doors slid open smoothly, Jack stepped out onto the tiled floor and after a seconds hesitation Fiona followed. As they walked down the narrow hallway to his door Fiona’s heart started to beat faster. Jack paused at his door, key in the lock. “You know before I left I couldn’t wait for someone else to see, but now that I’m here it’s terrifying. I mean what if there’s nothing there? What if I’m just crazy?” Fiona put her hand on his shoulder and gave it a gentle squeeze, “If there’s nothing there then we can work on getting you help and if there is, well, we can take it from there ok?” He let out a slow, shaky breath then nodded, Jack turned the key in the lock and pushed the door open.
He stepped inside, Fiona following after, she made it a few steps before freezing. “What the hell?”
Jack’s shoulders slumped slightly and he let out a strained laugh, “Oh thank god.”
“How the hell is it doing that?”
Jack shrugged, “I have no idea. I found it in the park yesterday. I thought it looked cool so I picked it up and then it started doing…that.” Above his coffee table floated a small misshapen stone, flecks of colour dotted its surface, one or two shone in the soft light from outside. Fiona took a step closer and waved one hand underneath it, then above it. There were no strings. Nothing to explain why it would be floating.
“Maybe it’s magnets or something?”
“No I tried that already. It doesn’t affect it.”
“Have you tried moving it?”
“Yeah, I have. It just floats wherever you push it, it stays about that height.”
Fiona reached out and gently brushed her fingertips across it, “It’s warm.”
She snatched her hand back, “It’s not like, radioactive or anything is it?”
Jack shook his head, “No, I don’t think so. It would be glowing if it was, right?”
Fiona shrugged, “I think that’s just in movies…we have to call someone, tell them.”
“Who? Who do you call for something like this?”
“I don’t know? A university or something? They’d know who to contact. The science department or something.”
“Yeah, good idea.” Fiona moved around it, unable to take her eyes away.
“Try and grab it.”
“Wrap your hand around it, see what happens. It’s crazy.”
Carefully she reached out and grabbed the floating stone. Fiona let out a strangled cry, she couldn’t open her hand, she couldn’t move at all. A burning heat emanated from the stone, enveloping her hand and moving up along her arm, once it hit her chest it spread out quickly until her entire body was burning. Her hand fell from the stone and Fiona collapsed, Jack rushed to her side and carefully helped her up.
“How are you feeling?”
“Ok I think.”
“Take your time, you need to adjust.”
Fiona shook her head, “We don’t have time to adjust. How is the plan going?”
“Seventy of the stones are active, no word from the others yet.”
“Am I the first convert?”
“After myself, yes. I haven’t gotten anyone else yet.”
“Ok. I’ll start getting people here, you do the same. The more we can get the better.”
Fiona pulled out her phone and fired off a quick text, “Hey, are you free to meet? We need to talk about something.”

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The Fly. Flash Fiction.

Doug frowned and waved distractedly at the air, that damn fly was buzzing around him again. It had been in the office most of the day, even though the door and both of the windows were open, the damn things still didn’t leave. Probably too stupid to find the way out. He waved his hand in front of his face again, he was trying, and failing, to get work done and the distraction of the fly did little to help. It was a hot day, far too hot to be cooped up in a small office, but he had little choice. If he had any left he’d have taken a sick day and spent the day pottering around his small garden, it was too hot to do any real work. He took a swig of his coffee which had long cooled and put the mug back on his desk. The fly was back, buzzing around his head in slow, lazy circles. He picked up a sheaf of papers and swung at it, cursing as he missed. A moment later the phone rang, he picked it up, still waving the paper. “Everything ok in there Doug?”
“Yes Sam, everything’s fine. Thanks.”
“Do you need anything?”
“No, no. Thank you.”
He hung up and shook his head, Sam was an attentive assistant, sometimes too attentive, at times it felt like he could do little without Sam’s notice. The buzzing finally stopped, he looked around for the body of the fly, wondering if he had managed to finally kill the damn thing. He didn’t spot it on his desk, but after a moment he put the papers down and looked back at the computer screen. He read through what he had written, fixing a few mistakes here and there. Normally Sam did stuff like this but it was an important letter and, if he was being honest, he didn’t really want Sam to see it either. There was nothing personal or embarrassing in it, but Sam was known for being a bit of a gossip, if he saw it the office would know about it in ten minutes, if not less. It was uncanny how fast he seemed to be able to spread gossip. The buzzing came back, he saw the fly as it flew around the room in a lazy arc. He swatted at it again, this time distractedly, for now he was able to push the noise to the back of his mind. As if sensing that it was no longer getting a reaction the fly buzzed closer to his head, circling it in fast, tight loops. Doug waved his hand around his head again and opened his mouth to shout out to Sam, someone in the office had to have bug spray, when the fly flew straight into his open mouth, hitting the back of his throat. Doug coughed and spluttered, he jumped back, his chair landing behind him with a heavy thud. The phone rang again but Doug didn’t notice, he was too busy coughing. He could almost feel it at the back of his throat. He cleared his throat and spat a few times, but there was nothing. He shuddered and took a swig of coffee, what ever happened to the fly it was gone now. The phone stopped ringing, Doug turned and picked up his chair and sat down again. He felt a strange lurch in his stomach, not painful, but sudden and startling. A short, gruesome thought flashed through his mind, what if the fly was alive in there, buzzing around? He shook his head, that was silly, he was just feeling a little queasy, that was all. The movement came again, this time with a tinge of pain. He rubbed his stomach, he wasn’t going to start throwing up, was he? As soon as the thought came, his stomach lurched again, his mouth flooded with saliva and he spun in his chair, just managing to grab the bin before the vomit came. He heaved into his bin, his eyes closed, he didn’t see the black bile that was filling it. The vomit kept coming in a never ending wave, his stomach clenched painfully again and again as the black bile burned his throat. He was feeling faint, weak, he couldn’t catch his breaths between heaves. The bin was getting heavier, it slipped from his damp fingers and hit the ground with a thud, it teetered on one edge for a moment before falling over completely, sending a wave of bile across the light blue carpet. Doug reached out to put his hand on his desk for support, but he couldn’t seem to raise his arm. He fell forward into the pool of bile, still heaving. A head popped around the door, “Are you ok? I thought I heard- Jesus Christ! Uh help! Someone help! Doug needs an ambulance or something!” Sam ran into the room, Doug was convulsing on the floor, bile still oozing from his mouth, beads of sweat coating his forehead, Sam turned him onto his side and checked for a pulse, it was still there but it was weak. Doug shuddered once, then lay still, Sam called out for help again, he placed his fingers on Doug’s neck, there was no pulse. Somewhere in the room a fly started to lazily buzz, it circled above the scene once, then it flew out of the window and into the afternoon sky.

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Good Samaritan. Flash Fiction.

Sarah paused, the glass of water halfway to her lips, had she heard something? It almost sounded like a faint voice calling out. She took a sip from the glass, then turned to go back into the sitting room, she just reached the door when it came again. She had definitely heard something. She turned and put her glass on the small wooden table, she crossed to the sink and stood at the window, there she squinted into the darkness, trying to see if there was someone out there. The voice came again, still faint but this time she could just make it out, “someone help me please.” She cupped her hands around the glass and peered out, there was no one in the garden that she could see. Her heart was beating heavily in her chest, she reached into her pocket and took out her phone. Gripping it tightly she went to the backdoor and opened it, she automatically turned on the outside light as she opened the door, nothing happened. She muttered “fuck.” It had been out for the last week and she kept forgetting to change it. She peered at the shadows, at the overgrown bushes. “Hello? Is someone there.”
“Please. Help me, I can’t get up. I’m so cold.” The voice was louder now, but it sounded weak all the same. She felt a chill move up her back as she realised it sounded like a child. Still gripping her phone she stepped out into the cool night air. “Where are you, I can’t see you.”
“I’m back here, the man threw me over the wall, I can’t get up.”
Her heart was thudding heavily, “the man?”
“He took me away. I was sleeping and he took me.”
Sarah spotted a small lump at the back of the garden, it looked about the right size for a child who was huddled up.
She hurried over “It’s ok, I’m going to help, we’ll get you inside and I’ll call the police.” As she walked forward she automatically unlocked her phone, the child was injured and needed an ambulance and the police. They’d be able to tell her what to do, if she should move them. As she got closer she could see the small lump was shaking, they were probably freezing in the cold of the night. As she reached them she squatted down beside them, her fingers opened the call app on her phone. She reached out and gently touched their shoulder as she dialled with her other hand. Before she could move another hand was over hers, small but with long, thin fingers and sharp looking nails. Sarah gasped and fell backwards, almost instantly the small figure was on her, thin fingers wrapping themselves around her throat before she could scream. The thing held on tightly until she passed out, then moving quickly it picked her up with one arm, then it scuttled over the fence, carrying her with it. Sarah’s phone lay on the grass, the number still undialled.

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A Beautiful Gift. Flash Fiction.

Christina opened the small package, she reached inside and pulled out a wad of paper, followed by another, her hands hit something hard and cold, she wrapped her hand around it and pulled out a small glass sculpture. She turned it in her hands, studying every inch of it, watching the way the light bounced off the colours, following the swirls and whorls with her eyes. It really was a beautiful piece, even if it was a fairly simple design. She put the glass onto the table and looked back at the box, there was no note that she could see, no receipt or card, nothing to indicate who had sent it to her. She emptied out the box to be sure, then refilled it with the balls of paper and closed it over. She looked at the label again, it was definitely addressed to her. Maybe it was Joe? He liked to surprise her with small things like this when they were dating, it could have been something he had ordered months ago and forgot about. It wouldn’t be the first time it happened. She considered ringing him for a moment then shook her head, no good would come of that phone call. He’d probably take it as a sign or something, he had only begun to stop pestering her in the last month or so.

She picked up the glass again and turned it over, looking for a sticker or mark that might tell her where it came from or who made it, but there was nothing. The light glinted through the swirls of colour and caught her eye again. At first glance it appeared simple enough, but the more she looked at it, the more she could sense a kind of depth to it. The colours really were beautiful and it almost seemed like they were shifting constantly inside it. As she placed it on the table she felt a sharp sting in her finger, Christina snatched her hand away, sticking her finger into her mouth. After a second she looked at the cut, it was small, almost like she had been stuck with a pin. She felt a little woozy looking at the blood, she always had a thing about that. She took a step towards the cupboard, she needed a plaster from the first aid box, she took another step, the kitchen seemed to list to the left, then the right, the entire room was tilting back and forth, Christina felt herself falling and then there was darkness.

She woke a short time later, feeling sore and disorientated. Why was everything cold? She blinked her eyes, trying to fix whatever was wrong with them, she wasn’t seeing things right, couldn’t be seeing things right. Had she been crying? Everything looked fractured and out of place. She tried to move and her entire body ached painfully, she let out a groan but there was no sound. She tried to move but she could only wriggle a little before something was stopping her. A face appeared above her, it was all twisted and strange, a large hand descended over her eyes, she felt something warm wrap around her and then the giant was looking directly into her eyes. There was something familiar about it. She could hear words, they were sharp and painful to her ear. “I’m sorry. It was the only way. You’ll see.” She recognised that voice, it was joe. “We’re meant to be together, forever. It was the only way.” He moved past the mirror  and she she caught a glimpse of herself, no, not herself. He held the glass sculpture in his hands, not her. How was that possible? She had to be dreaming, it was just some kind of weird nightmare and any second she would wake up on the cold tile of the kitchen floor. Joe put her down on the table, she watched as a large finger moved towards her, she saw the brilliant splash of blood as he cut his finger. She watched as he fell backwards, his eyes closing. Pain all around her, magnificently bright, it felt like she was being crushed on all sides. She could feel something stabbing through her body, she screamed silently as she was torn apart, her body pierced by Joe’s.

Christina looked out at the world, she couldn’t move, couldn’t speak. All she could do was exist in this constant burning agony. She knew Joe was in here too, crammed through her body as she was crammed through his, but they couldn’t communicate. Could talk or touch. All she could do was stare out at the world and hope that someone, anyone, would knock the cursed glass sculpture over and perhaps, when it shattered into a million pieces, she would be shattered too and she would know blessed peace from this never-ending hell.

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No short story today. 

Unfortunately last night we had to put our dog Jessie to sleep, there won’t be a short story today. 

She was a good dog and will be sorely missed. 

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