Save Them All. Flash Fiction.

He stared out the window, at the countless buildings, so many people in each one, so many people on the streets going about their day. He could save them all from the agony, the pain, but did he dare? It would be so fast, they would never realise what happened. Surely that was much kinder then the war, the murder. People would turn to savages, he had been to war and seen it many times himself. They were safe for now, sure, but how long would that safety last?

He knew what was coming, as did several others he trusted but everyone else was unaware. Everything he had built, everything he had created would be reduced to rubble and ash. He had managed to lift humanity out of the dirt, brought it back from the brink of destruction, but now the destruction of everything loomed. Each day the horde got a little closer and each day the risk of people discovering the truth increased. Once they knew they would panic. There would be chaos in the streets. Surely it was kinder, so much kinder for them to just go without knowing what they avoided. The city had been designed carefully and he had put in a few fail-safe options. Originally the idea was that the city could be abandoned and when the wave of invaders washed over it, it would explode, killing the invaders and saving everyone else. He had thought a city could be rebuilt, but the people, they were the most important thing. There was nowhere to run, no way they could evacuate the city or kill all of the horde. They would just keep coming, never stopping.

He looked down at the people in the streets, he was their leader, their protector. He would do what he must to keep them safe and, if he could no longer do that, then he would do what he needed to make sure they didn’t suffer. He moved from the window and sat behind his desk. He opened up the program on his computer and entered the password. Just one button, that was all. One button.

He closed his eyes, released a slow breath and pressed it.

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City of the Pure. Short Story.

The babies were never awake when they were brought to him. They were always so quiet and so tiny, their eyes closed, their small bodies wrapped warmly. He had never really questioned that. Why wouldn’t babies be asleep? They needed plenty of energy to grow. Sure, he saw them at different times of the day and night, but babies slept a lot. He never saw the babies with their parents either. It was always one of the Sisters who brought the baby to him. Swaddled in their little blankets. He had always thought, but of course never said, that the Sisters looked a little like babies themselves, swaddled up in their dark clothes, only their face visible which was, more often than not, scrunched up a little. He liked it when the Sister was happy, there wasn’t enough happiness these days. They always stayed in the room with him, to make sure he didn’t miss anything and to make sure he didn’t lie. When he first started he was offended that they would think that of him, or anyone else, but as the months and then years began to pass by he understood the need. It was impossible for him to fake the results, the sharp burning sensation that came from touching the child’s forehead, the bright red of his fingertips for a minute afterwards. It was an extra precaution, like not allowing the parents in, everything had to be certain, everyone had to be kept safe. After testing, if the baby was fine it was brought outside and, as he always presumed, returned to their parents. If however the child was unclean it was immediately whisked away, the Sister careful not to touch the child’s skin. He didn’t know what happened to the babies. He had asked twice. Once, to a fresh faced Sister who smiled and told him they were part of Gods plan and they would take their place in it. A wholly unsatisfying answer for him. The second time was to an older Sister, stooped and grizzled. She had answered with a low, almost sad voice, “It’s better if you don’t know.” She hadn’t seemed to mind the baby touching her. She held it gently, softly, and carried it from the room. It had been the last time he had seen that Sister too.

He knew that it was his job and that it was important, that someone needed to separate the good from the evil, but they were babies. How could they be evil? How could God allow them to be evil? They were innocent. He didn’t think the babies were being killed, after all, that in and of itself would be a mortal sin and condemn anyone who committed the act and all who associated with them. But that being the case, what happened to them? They were not used as servants, they were not kept in the City of the Pure. He knew of other places that kept their evil offspring and had often wondered if perhaps that was where the child was sent to. The problem for those places of course was that once the children had become a year old it was impossible to tell them apart from those who were pure. It was the law in the City of the Pure that all children were tested before their first birthday and if any were untested at that time they would be deemed impure. It was rare that he saw a baby older than two months, parents were always desperate to get their children verified as soon as possible.

He himself didn’t understand where the evil came from, how could two parents, who were pure, produce an evil child? He didn’t know but he knew that the Elders must, after all, they knew everything which is why they were in charge. The keepers of history and faith. The City of the Pure had so far enjoyed hundreds of years of peace and prosperity under their rule.

A Sister entered the room, baby in her arms. He looked down at the baby and the baby looked back at him, smiling. It reached out with one hand and grasped at his finger. Gently he removed his finger from the babies hand and gently touched its forehead, immediately he pulled his hand away, the baby gurgled merrily. The sister took the baby and quickly left the room. He stood, staring at his arms, still folded to hold the baby, at where the baby had once been. He understood then why the babies were always asleep. It was real when the baby was awake. It was a living, breathing thing. It had been happy, he knew, as everyone did that those that were evil could never be happy, so how could the baby smile at him? The child would go on to have a miserable, wretched life, there was no other options for it. Only the pure could be happy, it was in the scripture. He let his arms drop and moved back to his chair, falling back into it. He felt strange, almost unwell. He pushed the thoughts from his mind as he looked at the red dot on his finger. It had been a trick, that was all. The baby was trying to convince him it wasn’t evil, that it was pure like he was. Evil always tries to find a way in, it undermines good, rots it from the inside. Evil couldn’t be allowed to grow or fester, it needed to be removed entirely. That was why everyone who lived in the city had been born there and carefully tracked. People could live outside the walls of Pure if they wished, those who were undocumented or could not definitively prove their status, but after dusk they were ejected from the city with force. If they refused, or fought back they were executed to keep everyone safe. He shook his head slightly, there was no point in doubting it all. Of course it was right and it was righteous. Good needed to be tended and protected from evil. If it wasn’t, mankind could experience another Fall, fires raining down from the sky, water that looked pure and cool but would leave you sick and dying. God had cleansed the earth once before, ridding it of evil, his job was part of Gods will and to help prevent the need for Gods wrath. He shook his hand slightly as the redness in his finger began to fade. There would be a new child soon for testing, he needed to be ready, he needed to protect everyone.

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Shelter. Short Story.

In one of the corners a baby was crying, above the din of the shrieks he could hear the creak and moan of the ceiling over head. The mother was trying to shush the baby unsuccessfully, James balled his hands into fists. The noise was piercing his skull, over and over again.

“She better shut that kid up fast, everyone’s on edge down here.”

James just nodded, he couldn’t speak without having to yell. There was another thud from above, the babies cries became louder, then suddenly stopped.

“Please, no, stop!”
There was a gasping, then a brief gurgling cry before the child fell silent. He could hear the mother now, shushing the baby, telling it everything was going to be ok. James didn’t want to look, a wave of shame washed over him. The baby couldn’t help it, it didn’t know what was going on. He didn’t want to see the baby, if he looked he’d know what might have happened. It had happened before, once or twice. Everyone just ignored it. Pretended that they didn’t know what happened, that the child was sickly. James stiffened as a few grains of soil landed in his hair, there was another deep rumble, the baby was still silent. The lights flickered and James held his breath, they reignited and continued to glow, he released the breath slowly. The last time the lights went out four people had died in the panic. He never understood it outside, all they had to do was sit and wait, that was all. But down in the darkness he understood the fear. Not everyone down here was an upstanding citizen. People could be robbed, attacked. Sure, something might happen to them over the next year, they might find themselves locked out of the shelters, but that was only if people knew what they did. James himself had been shoved against a wall once, hands groping at him as he struggled until they realised he wasn’t a woman, then the hands were gone, he never found out who had done it. James pushed the thoughts away, the lights were holding for now. He had heard they had made some improvements on them to prevent them going out again.

 

The rumbling was starting to die down again, it had gotten worse for a time, deep, heavy vibrations that had made his teeth buzz. The baby hadn’t started crying again. Everyone was mostly quiet now, just waiting until it was over and they could leave again, see the damage that had been caused this time. James hoped it wouldn’t be too much. They had stored most of their belongings in the basement in preparation. Sure the house could be destroyed but they might be able to salvage some things. They had to be careful, going up too soon could mean disaster, waiting too long could mean looters would be able to carry off things. They had been lucky in regards to looters, their village was small and a relatively long distance from anywhere else. It was too dangerous to be outside at the moment, so people wouldn’t risk travelling long distances in the chance they’d be able to get something good.

 

James waited until most of the people had left before he too began to get ready. Already the sour stench from outside was filling the room. It was quite strong this time, they’d been very close. He didn’t see the woman with the baby leaving, but he hadn’t looked for her either. His family were already gone, his sister was one of the first to leave.
Outside it was drizzling, the rain wasn’t as cold as he expected. The stink was heavy in the air, but it would dissipate in a few hours at most. It didn’t appear as though any of the houses were destroyed, it had been raining when they went down into the bunker, which probably helped hide scent of them. The last time they came through several houses had been demolished and another few had been partially destroyed. James heard a faint rumble and froze, everyone looked around eyes wide, it happened again, this time clearly thunder. He let out a breath he didn’t realise he was holding. He had never seen the creatures, but he had heard plenty of stories about them. Everyone had. They migrated constantly and every few months there was a drill like today. It had been about three years since people had last been killed by them. A young family who hadn’t made it to one of the shelters in time. James didn’t know them very well, no one had. They had moved to the village only a few months before. A memorial was still held and the few bits that were left were buried.

 

James was glad it was over, people had been on edge for the last week, they had been overdue by a few weeks. A few people had speculated that perhaps their numbers were finally beginning to die out, James disagreed. If anything they needed to go into the shelters more often in the last few years. Besides that, one of the great cities had fallen only a year before.
Once everyone was out of the shelters they were divided into their teams and started searching the area. They needed to keep and eye out for two things, the young and eggs. The eggs needed to be destroyed immediately. The eggs were not laid by the beasts themselves, but by another creature that seemed to follow them. The young needed to be destroyed as they would eat crops and people, and sometimes the mothers would come looking for them.

 

The search went smoothly, only a small cluster of eggs were found and they were quickly burned. James hadn’t been in the group that found them, and he was pleased. The eggs unnerved him, they were clear and you could see the small creatures twitching and moving inside. When they burned they made a high pitched whistle that sounded like screams. He always hated that sound. He returned to the house to find his family moving everything back upstairs. He started to help, relieved it was finally over for another few months.

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An Adventure. Short Story.

“You know tonight is the night, right?”
“Dude shut up.”
“What do you mean it’s the night?”
“every year, on this day, someone dies.”
Drew laughed, “Dude, do you know how many people there are in the city? Someone dies everyday.”
“No, but it’s different on this night.”
“How is it different?”
“Because they’re n-”

“Stop. I don’t want to hear the rest. It’s freaky enough out here as it is.”
“Don’t listen to him babe, he’s full of it. It was his idea to come out here in the first place. If something weird was happening and he knew about it, why would he want to come out here?” Drew pulled Chelsea into a hug, “don’t worry. Nothing is going to attack us.”
“Well, maybe a homeless guy.”
“I said shut up.”

Tony shrugged and grinned at them, “I’m fucking with you. Homeless people don’t even come here. Besides, it makes perfect sense to be in a place like this on a night like tonight. It’s freaky, it’s fucked up, no one is gonna come out here, right? So if you’re gonna kill someone, you’d go to where people are. If anything we’re safer here.”
“That is the most confusing logic I’ve ever heard. Also, horror movies?”
“Yeah, my point exactly. People don’t go to these places cos they know better, therefore killers and the like will avoid it too as they know there will be no victims.”
“If there’s no one out here, wouldn’t it make a good lair or something?”
“No, it wouldn’t ok.” Tony shook his head, “You’re not getting my point.”
“I think we got it. Your point is just stupid.”
Tony shook his head again and walked away, looking at the ground and muttering.
“I really don’t know why we had to come up here though.”
“He wanted to and he’s been having a tough time lately, Frankie dumped him, his parents are going through stuff. I felt bad saying no.”
“I guess. I still feel like I’m intruding a little though.”
He gave her a quick kiss, “You’re not, look he wanted you to come too, he told me to invite you.”
Chelsea smiled, “If he tries to kill us cos we’re still going out, you owe me a coke.”
Drew smiled back, “Deal.” He moved after Tony, grabbing her hand and pulling her along with him.

The ground was dry and dusty, it looked like no grass had grown on it for years. The house itself was large, the windows boarded up. It looked more dilapidated than creepy during the day, Drew’s biggest fear was that the floorboards would collapse or something equally mundane. It didn’t have the presence that he had expected. He had thought that the air would feel heavy and oppressive, that there would be hairs standing on the back of his neck. Now he was just slightly bored and a little cold. Everyone knew the story of the house. Rich couple, nasty divorce. Husband moved out and salted the land before going. Drew didn’t know how much he used, but it must have been a helluva lot as nothing had grown here in the last ten years. The wife had disappeared a few days after the husband had left, no trace of her had been found. The house had sat here ever since, the husband refused to sell and just left it rotting. Overall he felt underwhelmed with the place. From what he had heard and from what Tony had said, he had expected something much more exciting, but he had agreed to come and he was a man of his word.
“Ok, so how are we supposed to get in?”
“I’ve heard that there’s a way in around the back.”
“If no one comes here, how do they know how to get in?”
Tony ignored Chelsea as he climbed over the short fence separating the front from the back. Chelsea climbed over next, “Thank god I wore jeans here. I’d be scratched to shit otherwise.”
Drew followed, the back garden was worse than the front. Plants and grasses had started to grow, but they were stunted and patchy. It gave the place a much creepier feel than the front.

Tony came over to them, “Ok, so I think I’ve found two ways in. One through the basement and one through the first floor. Which do you guys think?”
“First floor. Definitely. We don’t want stairs collapsing or getting trapped down there. I don’t want to have to call someone to get us out.”
“Ok, first floor it is. C’mon.”
They trailed after him as he approached a window, he pulled and tugged at the board for a few minutes, Drew stepped forward and gave him a hand, together the two pried it from the wall, wincing as the rusty nails gave way with a shriek. The dropped the board onto the ground and Tony started to fiddle with the window.
“If it’s locked you are not breaking it open.”
“Jeez, where is your spirit of adventure?”
“If we get caught here I don’t want to be on the line for some shitty broken windows.”
He fiddled with it for another couple of seconds, “Aha!” He pulled it up slowly, it made stuttered grinding noises as it rose. “We’re in. Who’s first?”
“Well, you’re the one who wanted to come out here.”
“I just wanted to be polite. Ladies first and all that.”
“No, after you. I insist.”
Tony smiled at them both, “Chickens. See ya inside.”
He climbed through the window, “So, any broken floorboards?”
“No. Hang on a second.” A moment later a bright light illuminated the room. It looked dirty, but the floor seemed to be in good condition.

“Do you want to go in before or after me?”
“After. If some crazed junkie is in there, I want to have a clear line of escape. You two banging around will bring anyone out of the woodwork.”
“If you’re really nervous you can wait in the car for us.”
“God no, that’d be worse. C’mon, lets just get this over with. Also, I vote for beer and pizza when we get home.”
“Yes, definitely.”
Drew stood aside and let Chelsea come through the window, Tony had wandered off to the next room. Drew was starting to get creeped out. The house still had everything. The room smelt of mould and damp. Couches were angled at an empty fireplace, a few rotting books sat on top of a small table. It looked as though it hadn’t been touched since the wife went missing. Drew had expected the place to be empty of anything but crumpled beer cans and some discarded needles.

Drew and Chelsea jumped as something crashed to the ground somewhere in the house. “Fuck!”

“Tony? Are you ok?”

“Yeah. I’m fine, I’m in the kitchen.”
They started to move towards the sound of his voice. The kitchen was large, with long, wide marble countertops. Tony was standing near a doorless cupboard, The door was lying on the tiled floor. “I think some of the hinges were rusted through. It broke off in my hand when I pulled it open.”
The cupboard was full of plates and bowls.
“Man, everything is still here. Who needs to go shopping when they get a new place, just come here.”
“Gross.”
“What? Just wash it well and it’ll be fine.”
Chelsea shook her head, then had a look around, “Some of this stuff is really expensive. Like high end mixers,” she picked up a plate, “high end dinnerware. Who would just leave it here?”
“Rich people. Hell, you’d just go out and buy more.”
“But why has no one come in and taken everything? This house should have been stripped bare by now.”
“See, I told you, everyone is too scared of this place to come near it.”
“There has to be another reason. Is it patrolled or like, full of dangerous chemicals?”
“Not that I know of.”

“Maybe we should go, just in case.”
“I dunno, I mean we’re already here. We might as well have a look around the rest of the place before we leave, right?”
“I guess. Just make it quick then.”
Tony left the room, Drew trailed after him. Chelsea stayed in the kitchen, looking around. Nothing looked out of place, it was like they just left for an afternoon and never came back. She moved over towards the fridge and put her hand on the handle. After a second, she let her hand drop. God only knew what the fridge would smell like once opened. Though she didn’t open it, she knew that it was probably full of rotting food. Same with the freezer. She looked around herself, then moved out of the kitchen, trailing after the other two.

“Ok, we’ve seen everything now, can we go?”
“I guess. I mean, if you really want to.”
“Well, what else is there to do here?”
“We haven’t seen the basement yet.”
“And we’re not going to. I’m not falling through some old stairs, you already broke a cupboard and that bed when you sat on it.”
“Yeah well, it’s not my fault the thing was all rotten.”
“I’m not going down there. Besides it’s probably full of useless junk.”
“Like that jewellery box was full of junk? I can’t believe you wouldn’t let me take anything. Can I just look at least? The stairs could be concrete, that would be safe, right?”
“Fine, but if they’re wood we’re not going down there.”
“Ok.”
They stood at the top of the stairs, “I’m not going down there.”
“Fine. You two stay up here, I’ll be back in a minute. God, where’s you’re sense of adventure?”
“It’ll be full of crap.”
“Yeah well, I’ll give a shout when I find the dead bodies or jars full of foetuses.”
“Yeah, that’s not making me want to go down there.”
Tony started down the stairs, shining the light in front of himself.
“There’s shelves of stuff down here at least. I think I see some tins. I’ll bring one back up to you guys.”

The light continued flashing down in the basement as Tony moved around, Drew was starting to get nervous. What if someone did come along? They’d been in the place for at least fourty five minutes. Someone was going to notice eventually.
They both jumped as there was a loud scream from the basement, then silence.
“Tony? Are you ok?”
There was a low chuckle, “Yeah, I’m fine. There was a mannequin down here, scared the shit out of myself.”
“Are you done?”
“Yeah, I guess. I’ll be up now in a minute. I was right, there’s a ton of canned food down here. I’d swear they thought they world was going to end or something.”

Tony appeared at the bottom of the stairs and started to make his way up.
“C’mon dude, lets get out of here.”
“I’m coming, I’m coming.”
Drew wanted to get out of the place, he had a weird feeling, like he was being watched. There was a faint itch between his shoulder blades.

They climbed out of the window without problems and leaned the board against it after closing it over. They made their way back to the car, checking to make sure that the coast was clear. With no sign of anyone they got in and drove off. Drew didn’t relax until the house was out of view, even then he had that feeling that someone was still watching them. He put it to the back of his mind, he was just paranoid, that was all. They had gotten away clean, but still that feeling lingered.

 

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Running. Short Story.

Allie shivered, she didn’t have time to grab her jacket when she ran. All she had on was a pair of light jeans and a t-shirt, luckily she’d been wearing sandals when it happened. She would go back, of course she would, where else could she even go? But for now she enjoyed the freedom. She didn’t worry about what would happen when she returned, she didn’t worry about any punishments she might receive. For now she just closed her eyes and swung gently on the swing. It was reassuring, the smooth back and forth motion. It was getting late and no one was in the park, not even the teens she had expected to see hanging around. It was nice being alone, just having the quiet, the sound of the trees rustling, or the soft hum of the occasional car going by. Beyond that she felt safer here, there were plenty of exits, plenty of places to hide. There weren’t many places to hide where she lived and he knew of all the places already. She shivered again, but this time it wasn’t from the cold. Allie stopped swinging and wrapped her arms around herself. She was really starting to feel the cold. Why hadn’t she grabbed a jacket, any jacket? They had been right there by the door. If only she had been thinking properly. Even now it was still a blur. She just remembered running, scrabbling at the door then running again. She wasn’t even all that sure about where exactly she had ended up. She thought it was only a short distance back to the house, but then it could be an hour away.

 

Allie finally stood from the swing and looked around, it was dark and hard to see. Sighing she started to walk, trying to do so carefully. It wouldn’t do to slip and injure herself here in the dark. There wouldn’t be anyone around to help her, and she wouldn’t really trust someone who would be hanging around in a park at night anyway.

 

As she walked she began to get her bearings a little bit. She was walking briskly and knew she’d be back in about twenty minutes. As she got closer though, she found herself slowing. The cold was no longer enough incentive to keep going. She didn’t have any money on her so she couldn’t just duck in somewhere. She paused outside a large shop and after a second of indecision, she walked in. Luckily, there was a trolley sitting just inside the entrance. She looked around for anyone using it and after seeing no one she shrugged and grabbed it for herself. Allie casually strolled through the shop, allowing herself to warm. There were even a few free samples she was able to try. As she walked she would pick random items off the shelves, sometimes she would stand and read the back of one thing, then another, trying to look as though she was indecisive.

 

After what felt like more than enough time, Allie pretended to search her pockets, looking confused, after a few seconds, she backtracked over the store, bringing the trolley, then, at the entrance, she left it and walked out, still scanning the ground. She continued on for a few feet then straightened up and began to walk normally. The further away she got from the store the sillier she felt. No one would have noticed her just leaving, it had been a stupid thing to do to pretend to have lost her wallet, anyone who saw probably knew she was faking and if not they thought she was an idiot for not checking at customer services or anything. She shook her head to herself, either way she was warmer now than she had been, though the longer she stayed outside the more of her warmth was robbed.

 

She stopped outside the building, she was shivering again. He was already up there, she knew it. He wouldn’t have even bothered looking for her. No, he’d just sit and wait. He knew her too well. Allie took a deep breath then stepped into the lobby. It was warm inside, her skin broke out in goosebumps. She still shivered uncontrollably. There was a small seating area in the lobby, she moved over to it and sat down. She would sit here for just a minute, until she was warm again, then, when she had gotten a hold of herself she’d go back upstairs.

 

She had been sitting for almost half an hour, yet she couldn’t make herself stand, couldn’t make herself move. She didn’t want to go back. She couldn’t go back. Once the elevator had dinged, the doors opening. She had managed to hold back a shriek of surprise. An older woman had left the lift, then the building, glancing at her once with a small smile and continuing on. What if it had been him? What if he came down and saw her? It wasn’t safe to stay here. Anywhere else would be better than here. She’d find something. She always did. She could beg for money, scrounge up enough for a bus ticket. Hell, even if she was able to borrow a phone from someone she’d be able to get someone to come help her. She sank back a little in her chair. Would they even want to help her? She hadn’t spoken to any of them in months and the last time she had spoken to most of them hadn’t been too pleasant. Her parents, they’d help. Of course they would, but how would they be able to look at her? To forgive her? Would all that really be better? That shame, the humiliation of it all? She had never seen him like this before though. Usually it was quick and then it’d be over. Not tonight, tonight was different, worse. What would happen if she did go back up there?

 

Allie stood and started to walk to the door. She opened it and stepped outside, she took a deep breath, then she started to walk away, she made it ten feet before she started to jog, and she kept running.

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A Trip. Short Story

“It’s called x-ray.”
“That sounds really stupid.”
“Ok, well, it kind of does, but he said that it was called that cos it lets you see through all the bullshit. See what the world is really like.”
“So it’s like that pill from the matrix?”
“What?”
“You know, the red pill, blue pill thing?”
“I thought you didn’t see that movie.”
“I didn’t.”
“Then how do you know what you’re talking about?”
Dave rolled his eyes, “everyone knows the gist of it ok. So is it like those pills or not?”
“Not. It’s a high. It fades away. I don’t know exactly what it does but-”

“Wait, I thought you’ve taken this before.”
“No, I’ve seen people take if before. It looked like fun.”
“Ok. So you haven’t tried it and you’ve done no research.”
“Well, I tried, nothing came up online, just shit about actual x-rays and stuff. Look it’s been out for a while now. Loads of people have taken it, there’s been no real side effects. You’ll feel off for a day or two then you’re back to normal. People have described it like a spiritual experience. They see the world for how it is and their true place in the world.”

Dave looked at the pill sitting on the table. It looked like an aspirin pill. He had thought it would look different. Like a piece of paper or some kind of interesting shape on it at least. It looked, as it was, kind of boring.

“How long does it take to kick in?”
“About twenty minutes.”
“Ok, so do we take them now or?”
“No, no it’s better if you take them alone.”
“What?”
“Yeah. Makes for a cleaner experience or something I don’t know.”
“What if I hallucinate and jump out the window or something?”
“You won’t, just relax, it will be easy, smooth. How about this, you wait until I get home, then I’ll ring you, we’ll both take it and then when it’s over we ring each other again, ok?”
“Um. I guess. You could stay here and just do it in a different room, that way if we-”

“You’re supposed to take it somewhere familiar.”
“Here is familiar, you’re here all the time!”

“Ok. So I’ll go home, get myself ready and give you a call ok?”
Tom stood from the couch and started moving towards the door, Dave sighed, “Ok I guess.”
“Cool, I’ll talk to you in a bit. Relax man, it’ll be a blast.”
“Sure sure.”

Tom closed the door behind himself and Dave looked at the pill again. Really it was supposed to be a good high, a few hallucinations. Dave took a deep breath and released it slowly. He had heard before that if you took something while nervous it could give you a bad trip. He just had to relax was all. Still, the nerves were there. It wasn’t a great shock to him though, so far his only experience with drugs had been a few drags off a joint or two at a concert and even then he wasn’t a huge fan of it. He just felt sleepy rather than anything else. Hell, he’d probably take the pill and pass out after ten minutes, waking up once the high was over.

His phone rang, Dave looked at it for a moment, did he really want to do this? Once he answered he couldn’t go back. He picked up the phone, finger hovering over the answer button. He pressed it.
“Hey, I’m at home, gotten myself comfortable and I’m ready to do it. You?”
“Uh yeah, I guess I’m ready.”
“Cool, on the count of three ok?”
“Ok.”
“One, two, three!”
Dave picked up the pill and swallowed it, grimacing at the bitter taste. He grabbed for a glass of water and took a gulp, then another mouthful to swish around.
“Oh fuck that tasted bad.”
“yeah. Right I’m off. Talk to you in a bit, ok?”
“Ok.”
Dave hung up and looked around the room. Everything still looked normal. Why wouldn’t it though? It took a little while to kick in. He had heard music in the background when he was on the phone to Tom. Maybe that was a good idea, something soft, light, relaxing. Dave stood from the couch and went to his CD player, he dug through the discs for a moment before selecting one and shoving it on. He set it at a low volume. Loud enough to be heard but low enough that it wasn’t distracting. He sat down on the couch again and tried to relax.

He didn’t know when it started happening, he only knew that something was happening. The couch felt different, softer all most. He also felt much more relaxed than he had before. This wasn’t so bad, if everything was like this he thought he was in for an awesome time. Occasionally he kept thinking he saw things out of the corner of his eyes, but they weren’t worrying, they were just there as they were supposed to be.

Something was different, something was changing. Dave didn’t feel all that relaxed anymore, if anything he was starting to feel normal again. He looked at the clock, it had only been about half an hour. It was a pleasant half an hour, but no way was it worth the twenty bucks he had to pay for that little pill. Surely that couldn’t be it. He looked to the people either side of him on the couch, “I don’t know. It didn’t seem like it was worth it to me.”
One shrugged, the other nodded slightly. His mouth felling a little dry Dave stood from the couch and weaved his way through the groups and clumps of people to get to the kitchen. There he got a glass and filled it with water. He watched as the glass filled with perfectly blue water. He took a sip, it was as cold as he expected. He took a few mouthfuls then put the glass down. He looked around the kitchen. Something was off about the room but he couldn’t tell exactly what. He put down his glass and left the kitchen. Back in the sitting room his seat had been taken, “I’m sorry I was sitting there.”
The girl shrugged at him, then turned away and started talking to the man on her left.
“Ugh. Fine. Jesus. This is my place, you know that right?” Dave shook his head and took a sip of his water. Finally the girl broke off her conversation and, rolling her eyes, stood from the couch. She walked off and Dave sat down, letting out a sigh of pleasure. It felt like he’d been standing for hours already. He looked around for his glass, he was thirsty, then he remembered he had left it in the kitchen. Damn. He didn’t want to lose his seat again.

“How are you enjoying it so far?”
“Huh?”
Dave turned to look at the man to his right, there was something off about the mans face, but Dave wasn’t sure what. It took him a moment to realise the man had no eyes, just smooth skin where his eyes should be. That was weird. Why did he need eyebrows if he had no eyes? After a second of not knowing where to look, Dave looked at him squarely in his eye skin.
“It’s ok. A little crowded I guess.”
“Yeah. It’s always like this. Well, not for you at least. You get by most of the time, only banging into someone occasionally. We however have to squeeze our way through everywhere. It gets annoying.”
“Uh huh.”

“You’re lucky though. You’re in a good place. Good vibes, nice people. Not everyone is so lucky.” The man leaned over, “Look, we’re not really supposed to do this, but ya know, I’ve been here so long now I feel like we’re kind of friends. After all I know pretty much everything about you. Just. Be careful if you do this again. Avoid everything between Westworth and Lexington and you should be ok. If you’re outside you’ll see most of the dangerous places, but that place has really good blending. You don’t notice until you’re half way through and by that point you’re pretty much screwed.”
“Um. Ok. I won’t then. Thank you.”
“You’re welcome Dave.”

“Hey, listen, you wouldn’t happen to know where I’d be able to get a drink do you? That tap wasn’t working earlier.”
“Yeah, sure, I’ll be right back, hang on.”
The man stood and disappeared into the crowd, Dave looked around trying to spot him again but he was gone. For now he just contented himself with people watching. Was that offensive? To call them people? Not all of them looked like people after all, though he was sure they were perfectly intelligent beings.

Someone was holding out a glass for him, filled with a light pink water. Dave took the glass from No-Eyes and took a sip. It was warm, but it would do.
“Thank you, much appreciated.”
“It’s the least I could do for you.”
Dave put the glass down on the table and went back to people watching, occasionally he would sip the glass. He and No-Eyes sat in companionable silence. Dave picked up his drink again and No-Eyes slapped it out of his hand, “You need to be more careful dude.” The glass was on its side, black fluid spreading out of it.
“Shit. That looks like it might stain.”
“It won’t. Be careful though, someone spiked your drink.”
“What?”
“Yeah. Some people think its hilarious. Don’t fall for it.” No-Eyes raised his voice. “Very funny asshole.”
Somewhere to their left someone let out a bark of laughter that was quickly covered by the noise of the crowd. They were getting quite loud. Dave hoped his neighbours wouldn’t complain.

No-Eyes stuck out his hand, “It was nice to really meet you after all this time.”
“Thanks. You too, you’re a pretty nice-” Dave stopped mid sentence, he was shaking his hand in the air. “…guy…” Dave dropped his hand and felt his cheeks blush. Well, luckily no one was here to see that. He looked around his empty apartment, only three or four hours passed but it felt like days. Man that was intense. Though he was starting to forget bits and pieces, he knew that it had been a blast and he wanted to do it again. He had a brief feeling that something scary had happened at some point, but then he dismissed it. No, he had nothing but good feelings about it.

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The Secret. Short Story.

Sandra sat in the booth in the corner, toying with her drink. A vodka and coke, it was her second. She had arrived early, only by twenty minutes, but she wanted some time here to sit and think, to prepare herself. The bar was dimly lit despite being the middle of the day. The windows were all high up and tinted, only opened occasionally to allow some of the cigarette smoke to drift outside. The place was dingy and a little seedy, it was the last place she would ever willingly go. For the last five minutes she had begun to get nervous, where was he? A few of the other patrons were eyeing her up. One looked like he was getting ready to come over when the door opened and Brad walked in. All heads turned to look at him, he raised one hand in greeting to Sandra and went to the bar. The man who looked like he was about to approach her settled down again, throwing a scowl in Brads direction. Sandra let out a small breath of relief. Coming here early had been a mistake. One she wouldn’t make again.

Brad placed his drink onto the table and slid into the opposite side of the booth.

“What did you want to talk about?”
“Don’t I even get a hello first?”
“No. Fuck hello, fuck everything else, just tell me what you want.”

Brad looked around the bar, then sighed, “You know this place is much friendlier during the evening. Obviously it isn’t that way all through the day. If I had realised I would have picked somewhere better to meet.”
Sandra took a sip of her drink, she wanted to yell at him, scream, but she needed to keep calm. Keep her composure.
“Hello Brad. How have you been?”
Brad sat up a little straighter and smiled, his teeth were far too white. “I’ve been good Sandra. How have you been?”
“I’ve been ok I guess. Things could be better but then that’s just life, isn’t it?”
He tilted his head slightly and frowned, “aw, do you want to talk about it?”
“No. I don’t. Not with you. Thank you.”
He shrugged, the grin returning, “Ok, just thought I’d offer.”
“Look, can we just get this over with. People will get suspicious if we’re seen together.”
“Why would they be suspicious, we’re old friends.”
“Old friends who haven’t spoken in two years. Old friends who refuse to be in the same room as one another. That kind of old friend?”
He took a gulp of his drink and sighed in pleasure, “Exactly. Look people will just think we’re patching things up.”
“Yeah, great, after that then what? We’ll have to see each other all the time.”
“No we won’t. If anyone asks just say I called a meeting to make peace and it didn’t go well. Tell them I was a dick or something. I don’t mind being the bad guy.”
Sandra scowled at her drink, “That’s because you are the bad guy.”
Brad clutched at his chest, “What? I’m not a bad guy, I’m hurt.” He jutted out his lower lip, which trembled and his eyes began to fill with tears.
“Cut the theatrics. It might have amused me before but it certainly doesn’t now.”
His face smoothed out to neutral, “fine. If you want to keep it professional and distant I can do professional and distant.”
“Good. Does that mean you’re finally going to tell me why we’re meeting?”
He nodded, “I was worried about you. I wanted to check in.”
Sandra let out a loud bark of laughter, the patrons all turned their heads to look at them. She coughed, cheeks going slightly red, “You didn’t care about me then and you don’t care about me now. I am under no delusions otherwise and you will not convince me either.”
“I seriously was concerned. I heard you weren’t sleeping well, having nightmares and-”

“Who told you that?”
“Does it matter?”
“Yes, yes it fucking well does. I don’t want you in my life. I don’t want people who will talk to you about stuff like that in my life. Who. Told. You.”
Brad sighed again, “I promised I wouldn’t tell and you know I don’t break my promises.”
“You’ve broken ones you’ve made to me.”
“No, I haven’t. I just fulfilled them in ways you weren’t expecting.”
She grinned at him, but her eyes didn’t smile.
“You can keep telling yourself that all you like. Now if that was all?”
Sandra started to stand.
“Sit. Please. There are some other things too.”
She settled herself down.
“It’s always games with you. Just get to the point.”

“I’m trying ok, it isn’t easy me to be direct.”
Sandra moved back slightly, startled by the intensity of his tone.

He sighed, “Look, I’m sorry ok?”
His face relaxed a little, Sandra noticed how tired he looked, the bags under his eyes, the pale colour of his skin. Sandra opened her mouth to ask if he was ok, but she shut it. She didn’t care. Nope. Not at all.
“I’ve been thinking. About what happened. I think maybe we should tell someone.”
“What!?”
“It’s been two years now, I mean we probably won’t get in too much trouble. They have a right to know.”
“They have a right to fuck all. Do not say a fucking word. It’s taken me this long to start to get over it. I’m finally putting it behind me and you go and drag me back with this bullshit? No. No no no. You don’t get to do this to me. We swore, swore we would never breathe a word about it again to anyone. Ever. I’m sticking to that. If you try and tell anyone else, anyone at all, I’ll deny it. Say it’s lies, rumours. You’re trying to fuck up my life again. People will believe it too you crazy goddamned bastard!” She shouted the last word, she hadn’t realised her voice had been getting louder and louder. Sandra was breathing hard, her eyes didn’t move from Brads.
“Are you ok?”
“Huh? Oh. Yeah. I’m fine thank you.”
The man from earlier looked at Brad for a second, then back to Sandra and nodded once. “I’ll be just over there. If you need help, any help at all everyone here will be more than happy to provide it.”
“Thank you. Things just got a little heated, but we’re fine now. I’m sorry to have bothered everyone.”

“That’s all right. Just wanted to make sure.”
He stood for a few seconds then turned and went back to his drink.
Brad grinned.

“What? Just what is so goddamned funny?”
“You. All “we need to keep it a secret” and you start shouting in the middle of a bar.”
She glared at him, “You know exactly why I was yelling.”
“Well, I can see you’re certain, that’s all I wanted to talk about.”
“I…what?”

“I wanted to make sure you remembered the promise. That you weren’t going to say anything. That was all.”
“You…you absolute bastard.”
Brad grinned at her, “Every time.” He drained the last few mouthfuls of his drink and threw some money down onto the table. “There, that should cover your drinks. I did invite you here after all. Never let it be said that I am not a gentleman.” With that he turned and left the bar. Again everyone’s heads turned and followed him as he left, then they looked at Sandra for a moment before going back to whatever they were doing. No one approached her. Sandra was shaking, she could barely contain herself. She could not believe she had fallen for his stupid bullshit again. She thought she was past it now. She looked down at her drink, still mostly full and swallowed it all. She let out a slow breath, she couldn’t drive like this. Slowly she unclenched her hands, allowing them to relax.

Sandra stood from the booth and left, nodding to the man on the way out. It was jarring stepping out into the early afternoon sunshine after the darkness of the bar. She took a second to orientate herself, then she started walking towards her car. She stood in the parking lot for a moment, keys in the door of her car, looking around. She didn’t spot Brad anywhere, but then he always was a sneaky fuck. She relocked her car, turned and left the lot. First she’d stop in somewhere and get some food to sober up a little for the drive home and afterwards she would buy the biggest, cheapest bottle of alcohol she could find. After a day like today, she needed to get drunk.

Posted in Drama, Short Stories | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment