Tag Archives: short story

Terminated

“Your coverage has been terminated.”

Sleek men in all black suits hand over the little white envelopes.

“Your coverage has been terminated,” they say. No date. No time. Just that your time is ending soon.

The sleek men in all black occupy every day life as if on their own journey. The envelopes are just a part of their daily routine. Children are frightened, of course, until they start to realize that death is just apart of life. No one is shocked when they receive their letter. They know it’s time to start wrapping up.

My Uncle Joe had two weeks when he got his letter. Just barely enough time to sell his house and give away possessions. He was ready, his wife left just days after the vows were spoken, he just wanted to find peace with her.

Some people get their letters and it’s almost an instant and they’re gone.

“Your coverage has been terminated.” As if an all knowing being has lifted a protection over the human body. Theories surround the protection. Questions arise. Who is worthy of guaranteed protection? Are the powers that be just bored of particular lives? Do these sleek men in all black know who the letters belong to or do they just hand them out on a whim?

The sleek men in all black do not talk. They smile and nod and smirk and grimace and cry and laugh. But they do not talk. If you are handed a letter and and beg for forgiveness and gravel at their feet, they do not talk. They bow their heads and continue on.

“Your coverage has been terminated.” My letter said. Three years ago.

I wait. At first, I too passed on my possessions and prepared for ill fate. But here I’ve waited three long years and my time has not come.

I’ve studied the sleek men in all black. Followed their every move. Talked to my loved ones. Interviewed strangers. Watched people reveive their letters and crumble at my feet. A fluke perhaps. Had my letter come to early? I studied it. Read it a million times over. Retraced my steps of the day I received it.

“Your coverage has been terminated.” It said. But when?

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Race Day

“Alright folks, it’s a little misty out today, but that will just make the track a bit better for those of you using mud tires. Race starts in 10 so I suggest you get them engines running!” An announcement came over the speakers, I looked around most racers were in their cars already.

I hopped into the passenger side of Todd’s skyline. It was heavily modified and the seatbelts weren’t that great, I was worried about being in his way. “I’m not sure how this is going to work babe. I’ll be crashing into you for most of the curves, won’t that bother you?”

“Sweetheart we’ve been over this. I’m not going to mind it and I’ve raced this track a billion times. Some curves, with centripital force you’ll lean into me a bit since I had to put a two seater bucket seat in. We’ll be fine you just gotta roll with it.” He gave me a kiss on my head and started his engine.

The track started on an old abandoned drag strip and that was the only road bit, the rest of it wound round the back 40 of a farm. There was curves and creeks and woods all leading back to the drag strip. You could race any car, be any age, there wasn’t a while lot of qualifications. Todd was lucky enough to know the land owners and had been out here every summer before I met him. He was a little rusty since we spent the last summer with my family on the beaches of Key West. That wasn’t going to stop him though, this was going to be the first race of it’s kind and the winner walks away with $100,000.

That’ll be more than enough to open his woodworking shop and a little something for me, he’d say and give me a nudge and a wink. The race was 40 laps and from the looks of most of these cars, last man standing wins.

The race began and I did what he said, rolled with the curves and tried hard not to mess with his arm. It was a right side driving car and old. ‘Beautiful’, Todd would call it, but it was old. One of his main concerns was the gaslines, they were low to the ground since he had to move everything around to get all of the stuff in there to boost the engine. I’m sure there’s technical words for all of that, but I’m no expert.

We we’re doing good, lap 5, and managed to maintain a steady 4th place. At one point he leans into me and says “we’ve got this.” I figure it’ll be at least one of those guys’ cars won’t make it and the other will just have some issues with the hill. That’s where I’ve seen him fall back just a bit and I’m sure that’s where Todd is going to best him. The third car, first in the race is Pierre. He’s not from around here and I couldn’t quite make out his accent. The first two laps I saw him nudge his way from the middle of the line up to first place and he got oddly close to some cars. I got the impression that Pierre wasn’t a very sportsman-like team player.

Lap 25 and Todd has managed to get to second place. As we rolled on to the old wooden bridge, something didn’t feel right. It collapsed as we were just about to hit the dirt road again which sent us tail end into the creek below. Panic set in and I’m sure Todd could see it in my face.

“Sweetheart, I love you, we’re fine. I still have a chance. But I’m going to need you to do something for me.” He lifted my chin up and gave me a big kiss. “I need you to push me out of here.”

Horror stuck my gut, but I knew he could make it if I helped. I got out of the skyline as carefully as I could. Which of course was through the driver window over Todd, I didn’t want to open the door and flood the car. The water was a cloudy, muddy mess and came up to just above my knee. I waded to the back and put my whole weight into the trunk. He hit the gas pedal hard and I’m not sure if it was the adrenaline or pure luck but he was out of the muck and on to the track before the next car even had a chance to catch up to us.

It was then that I realized no one had been behind us for a while except for one kid in a little red racer. I remember seeing it in the start up line, there was stickers on it to make it look like Lightning McQueen. I must have come to my senses because I could hear him clear as day saying “help.”

Turing around I saw wheels sticking out of the creek and the bottom of that little boys car. He couldn’t have been more than 10. I imagined my worst fear of him being trapped in that car so I waded over the bridge debris to the car. “Hey!” I shouted.

“Help!” I heard from behind me, he was on the bank of the creek. At least he wasn’t trapped. “Can you help me get my car out?”

“I’m sorry hunny, I’m not that strong.” I watched tears fall from his eyes. It hit me hard, this little boy who had gotten this far and who was in third place even! His dream was ruined. We walked back to the start up avoiding the race track.

When we got back every car still in the race was gathered around the announcer booth. Many of the drivers were sitting on the hood of their car and I desperately searched for Todd. He was in the front of the line looking defeated. I sat next to him and waited for an announcement.

“They checked that bridge before the race, Nell. It was sturdy and not going anywhere.”

“So it’s…it was rigged to collapse…you think?” I was stunned, who would do such a thing?

“I don’t think Sweetheart, I know it.” He sighed. “They were telling me you were helping Peter, did you get him out?”

He was already out of the car, we couldn’t save it. I could barely get you out with the help of the car actually running, his was belly up in that creek.

The speakers cracked a little but a voice came on. “Under out investigation it seems as if there was a small stick of dynamite under the bridge rigged to go off during the race. The person responsible is now in custody. Since we can’t finish the race officials have decided it is best to split up the winners money to the top four racers.”

Everyone was shocked. It could have been worse. I think back to the bridge and imagine things going a lot different. The boy made it out alive and Todd still managed to get first place and $25,000. I was relieved and thankful. I remembered Pierre and his struggle to get to first place and looked around. Drivers were now surrounded by their followers and family. But there Pierre’s car sat, alone and pathetic. I’m sure he was taken to jail that day.

The track was finally fixed and held races with a much smaller monatary prize. Todd had to settle for a much smaller shop, but he was able to build it onto the garage of the house we bought. The little something for me was an engagement ring, with my stipulation that I never be his co-pilot again. We heard the little boy was able to by a new racing car, they counted him as the second winner. I’m glad he didn’t give up his dream.


Julie: The Artist.

Julie sat down on the brown couch in the lobby area. TV’s were blasting the news, latest things the crazy president was doing, the stock market crash, the murder in some small town with enough mystery to keep the nation captivated. The magazines on the coffee table in front of her showing happy scenes of housewives decorating the perfect summer themed parties with their husbands in a ‘Kiss the Cook’ apron and grilling spatula, the latest star and their tragic on screen romance turned real life love story, and a children’s magazine.

It seemed out of place for the office setting, maybe a client brought their child or a secretary brought her son to work. Her meeting was pushed back half an hour, they were thoughtless-only telling her after she had already walked through the door. Julie picked up the children’s magazine and flipped through the simplicity. The activity pages had been scribbled in red and yellow crayon, perhaps the child was not appropriately aged yet. She kept flipping until she got to the main article, it was short but the message was powerful. A child wouldn’t understand the moral but it made Julie think.

What was she doing here? Pitching her big idea to some soul sucking corporation? Was she selling out? Was this the right decision? Her husband might have thought so-if he had stayed around long enough for her to finish the concept drawings. She took out her portfolio and stared at her drawings. She glanced back at the magazine.

Julie stuffed her drawings and the magazine back in her satchel got up and walked towards the front desk. She told the secretary to apologize to the men she was to meet with today, but she wouldn’t be coming back.

“What ever it is that you want to do, do it for yourself. Happiness comes from your own success.”


The Empty Trolley

I entered a contest where they give you a plot and you write about it, I didn’t win. But that’s okay there’s always next time. I thought I’d let you all read my submission anyway. The prompt was “Mystery titled The Empty Trolley.”

Legend has it you can still see a lingering trolley in the middle of Leosville. It has been decades since they were in use and according to officials, they have all been decommissioned and tore apart.
Of course, no one really gets a good look at this trolley, it seems to disappear quickly. And none of the stories ever quite matched up. Frank swore he saw it one day and turned to his wife to tell her, in the instant it took her to look the trolley was gone. Young Jeramiah and Thomas were playing in the street when a police officer jumped out to save them from being ran over by the trolley once, but the other people walking on the sidewalk just laughed at the officer. Jimmy told his tale about slamming on his breaks one afternoon in fear that he would hit the trolley, no one got hurt he would say. But no one believed any of them.
The local paper, Leosville Argus, had one reporter who was always set after the ones who believed they had seen the trolley to tell their story. The article he had written about the trolley stories always got stuck in the section of the paper no body liked to read with all the advertisements. His name was Jackson Fernell and while he thought himself to be a decent reporter for the paper was only referred to as “The Trolley Man” as a joke by his coworkers.
One day Jackson decided to do a little more digging into the story of the disappearing trolley. He found contact information for the three witnesses he had spoke too before and gave them each a call.
The first witness Jackson spoke to was Frank Beauregard. Frank and his wife Suzie were expecting their first child in a short few days but had just a moment to recount his day seeing the trolley. “Clear as day, it was right in front of where that arcade is on Main Street, me and my wife were headed to the movies but decided to walk a little downtown first. Beautiful spring day it was.” Jackson wrote down all the information that he could in his little notebook and called his next witness, the police officer.
“Well, those kids had just come out of the arcade on Main Street, goofing off. I was just patrolling the town like usual and there that trolley came clear as day. Looked like it wasn’t going to stop for them kids and I jumped out and pushed them to the sidewalk. I had a lot of strange looks that day and a lot of laughs back at the station.” Officer Evanston was more than happy to tell someone his side of the story maybe because Jackson seemed genuinely interested in what he had to say.
The third witness was Jimmy. He was tough to get a hold of, turns out his wife had taken a turn for the worst and spent most of his days at the nursing home. Jackson decided to do an in-person interview and met Jimmy and his wife, Mariann, at the nursing home. They were a sweet old couple, married for 54 years.
“I was driving by the old flower shop.” Jimmy smiled.
“Such a shame Julie had to close down.” Mariann put her hand on Jimmy’s.
“Yeh, yeah, poor girl. Well so I was driving by the old flower shop. I couldn’t remember where the new one was, so I hoped driving by the old would jog my memory. And there it was, that old trolley in my damn way!”
“He got home that night with flowers for me, he’s such a sweetheart, and told me all about it. I thought I read in the paper a few years ago that they tore all those apart. Really nice of the town they made them all into benches for the parks. Anyway, I couldn’t believe it when he said he almost ran into it!” She wheezed.
“So, Jimmy, the old arcade…that used to be a flower shop.” Jackson was intrigued now. That was two witnesses that had walked by that arcade-old flower shop who had their women on the mind, but what did the officer have to do with it?
“Oh yes! Our neighbor Julie had the best blooms in springtime!” He chuckled.
Jackson got the information he needed from the sweet old couple and headed to the common place of the trolley sightings. He was missing some big information. The trolley seemed real to these people. These people mostly had romantic intentions during their sighting. Except for the cop… what had the cop have to do with it? He picked up his cell phone and called Officer Evanston again.
“Officer, I know we spoke about the children of that day, but do you mind if I ask a more personal question?”
“Uh…sure I guess.” The Officer sounded apprehensive.
“What did you do for the rest of that day?” Jackson opened his notebook to the other interviews.
“Oh. Well, I finished my shift. A pretty boring day really. Had a few phone calls.”
“Anything else?”
“I had anniversary dinner with my wife. We’re celebrating this weekend, but I surprised her with flowers and dinner.” Officer Evanston smiled.
“Bingo!”
“Excuse me?”
Jackson was embarrassed. “Sorry, I think I’ve figured out why people see the trolley! All three of the witnesses had seen the trolley outside of an old flower shop turned into an arcade. And all three of the witnesses bought their wives flowers that day!”
Jackson hung up the phone and stood there staring out into the street from the sidewalk. What did the flowers have to do with the trolley!? Just then, he saw it.
Clear as day, a big trolley with the cables and the train tracks below, it was empty. But there was a ghostly glow about the trolley as well. He stood there, amazed and pondering. A cold breeze seemed to flow from the door of the old flower shop to the trolley and Jackson concentrated. A transparent man, a ghost! A ghost had gotten onto the trolley with a bouquet of flowers.
“Who are you?” Jackson yelled out, not sure of what he was doing.
The ghost just smiled, and the trolley disappeared.
It was two weeks’ worth of more research before Jackson could but together more of a story. He researched the flower shop but didn’t get anywhere with that lead. He investigated anything he could find about trolleys. It wasn’t until he searched death records when he found the name of Paul Ramos. Paul’s obituary told the tragic tale of a trolley accident, he was on the way to propose to his love, Holly.
Jackson decided not to publish his findings in the paper he worked for. He thought it was a perfect story that didn’t need explaining. One of love and romance, hopefully a reminder to all those that see the mysterious empty trolley that their love is precious and fragile.


Sir Bowlsworth

Sir Bowlsworth is a small restaurateur in the south side of France. He serves mostly soups, and is widely popular in the area.

The people in France look past his American heritage and appreciate him for his knowledge of basic knowledge of bisque, chowder, and soups. (Of course, no one really knew the difference)

Sir Bowlsworth was even knighted for is servitude to the French by the Queen of England, which no one had ever received such an honor by a foreign dignity for such a small act.

The only soup not popular in Sir Bowlsworth’s line up was what he called “Tomato.” To the French people he served this was a disgusting soup which they likened to liquefied ketchup. An American condiment they never used, made to go with the American popular-French Fry.

His customers never asked for the soup but it remained on the menu, and he still made it hot and fresh everyday in hopes someone would give it a try.

One day, Sir Bowlsworth decided to put a new item on the menu. A grilled cheese sandwich, to complement his unpopular tomato soup. His customers were outraged. “Why would a soup restaurant sell a sandwich!?” They cried. The idea was totally preposterous! They wouldn’t even give the sandwich a try.

It was months before a very curious customer came into the shop. She was holding a French translation handbook and had a cassette tape with headphones draped over her shoulders. “Puis-je avoir la soupe au fromage grillé et à la tomate?” She said very slowly in a near perfect accent, glancing at her book ever so often to get the sentence right.

Sir Bowlsworth looked confused. He had waited for this day for a very long time. He said “Oui.” and guestured for the lady to take a seat anywhere she pleased while he prepared her meal. The French customers were equally confused, who would order such an American abomination?

He brought the lady a bowl of his unpopular tomato soup with a plate of goey grilled cheese sandwich.

She said thank you in her best French accent and began to tear her sandwich into pieces and dip them into the soup.

The other customers were in complete outrage! Who would do such a thing! They all stared at her, including Sir Bowlsworth. No one had ever treated his soup with such carelessness.

“Ma ‘dam, you must be American.” He said.

She looked at him, “Yes, you sound American too!” She smiled brightly as if this was the first American she had seen on her trip.

“Oui, Ma ‘dam.” Sir Bowlsworth smiled.

“I’ve been looking for something like this! It reminds me of my mother and home!” She asked him to sit down.

He was so happy to have someone to talk to that appreciated his tomato soup. It was indeed his mother’s recipe, and much like this young lady, it reminded him of home. In fact, it was all he had eaten for the past few months. He didn’t want it going to waste either since none of his regular customers would not touch it.

Sir Bowlsworth and the lady sat and talked all day long, with him occasionally serving his customers.

From that day on the French customers enjoyed the soup as the lady had, with tore up grilled cheese pieces in their tomato soup. The lady even went on to be Mrs. Bowlsworth, and everyone was happy and lived happily ever after.


Inktober: Crooked

Inktober day 8. Notice anything fishy here? It’s like I haven’t been posting but then they show up anyway? Well life gets in the way and I’ve only been writing using my phone so I’ve lost some of my work or have not been able to. But don’t worry! I have every intention of finishing this little quest of mine. I’m also going to be looking into a better writing system soon. NaNoWriMo is closer than it looks and I want to be prepared to actually do it and win this year. But enough of that! On with the show!
An old man with a crooked nose and overalls sat in an old rocking chair with a bottle of whiskey on his front porch. Children would come and go catching their fly away balls and frisbees and he’d yell at them. “Get off my lawn or I’ll get ya!” He would say. But still they came and went. One day he grew tired of yelling at the children and decided he would take matters into his own hands.

He got his hose from the side of the rikity old house and flooded his lawn. He did this every day for a month until his lawn resembled more of a swamp. Children’s toys would disappear and they would stand on the side walk and whine.

Another month went by and the old man kept flooding his lawn. What he didn’t notice though was that the water had creeped under his house. So much so that late one evening the house began to float. The house drifted as the old man with a crooked nose who sat on his front porch in a rocking chair and a bottle of whiskey. The waters of his swamp sweeped the house and took it far away leaving behind a hole and hundreds of the children’s balls and frisbees.
 


Inktober: Long

It’s Inktober day 5! In case you didn’t read previous posts, I am gearing up for NaNoWriMo by using Inktober’s prompts to write short stories. I’ll also be showcasing other artist’s work along the way. First up, I’ve mentioned this artist before. You can find his work here. Next you’ll find my short story for the day.

A family of four were taking their yearly road trip. Normally one would choose a destination and they’d spend a week there, say Yellowstone or Disneyland or Niagra Falls. This year was a free-for-all. Starting in their blink of an eye small town in Ohio and taking the roads chosen by the flip of a coin. Three days in, they found themselves in Minnesota, deciding to take the opportunity to visit the world’s largest mall. The next day was what seemed like a quick trip to Oklahoma and then down into Texas. 

The family found themselves on a mysterious road. There were patches of asphalt but it was mostly gravel, and completely lined with thick trees. The son, not more than 10 was learning to read a map but felt he may have gotten their family lost. The daughter, only 8, was sound asleep. The parents grew worried. Mother, taking the map from her son to look more closely but not having any luck. The road continued to stretch, the trees just as thick. Their only assurance was that the sky was getting dark, though it was comforting. The father slows the van down to a halt and takes the map. They retraced their trail with what the son insisted is the road he chose but found nothing close for landmarks. Mother hesitated but talked herself into pulling out the GPS. No signal. Father put the car in gear again and drove and drove, the long and now dark road continued, the trees ever so thick. An hour of the long road and the van had ran out of gas. The family packed up necessities and left the poor hunk and walked. And walked and walked. The road stretched on and on with no end in sight. The family worried, but kept walking. Hoping to find a gas station or a town or even just a house. They walked for hours. It seemed like they were stuck on this lonesome long dark road. Forever.