I Need Some Space

“You’re late.” I hear a harsh voice say as I sneak into the base. I turn and look. It’s my boss. 

“I had to stop on the way here and fix my tire,” I lie. 

“Sure you did, Lenny. Is it the same tire from last week?” I go to spout another lie, but he cuts me off. “Doesn’t matter. I need you on the ship now or we aren’t going to make it.” I run up the open ramp on the bottom of the spaceship. The crew is already inside and in their designated spots. 

“Hello everybody! You ready to deliver some packages?” I yell while strolling to my captain’s chair. The crew groans. A woman walks up to me with a tablet in her hand. 

“You have to stop being late, Lenny. They are going to demote you.” I look at her and smile. 

“Look, Sarah, everything is fine. Don’t worry about it.” I say confidently. “Also, you’re supposed to call me Captain at work.” 

She rolls her eyes, “Yes Captain.” She walks to the back of the ship. I can’t help but watch her the whole way. I sit in my chair and pull up my command system. 

“Looks like we have thirty packages on the ninth moon of Trinity. Then sixty packages on Tricron Omega Six. What is the best route today, Gibbs?” I ask the younger man in the corner. 

“We are going through the March section, then around Nib 3,” Gibbs says confidently while typing.

“Yeehaw! Let’s go!” I yell. The ship hovers off the ground. It tilts upward and shoots off into the sky, ascending towards the stars. I stand up and walk to the doorway in the back. On my way, I see Sarah. “Ms. Sarah, would you mind accompanying me to the break room?” I ask slyly. She looks at me. 

“Why, of course, Captain,” she says sarcastically and rolls her eyes. 

We walk through the doorway and down the hall. “Hey babe, chill out,” I say, grabbing her waist. She moves out of my grasp, turning towards me. 

“Chill out? You’ve got to be kidding me.” She crosses her arms. “First, you bail on me last night, and then you’re late this morning. Again.” 

“Look, I’m sorry about last night, but some things came up that I had to deal with.”

“Uh-huh,” she sighs. As I walk closer to her, the ship shakes abruptly. The emergency lights flash and the siren goes off. I grab her defensively.

“Captain! We need you on the floor!” The intercom wails. Grabbing Sarah’s hand, I quickly lead her back to the command floor. 

We run through the doors. “What’s going on?” I yell over the siren.

“Pirates are trying to infiltrate the ship! They were waiting for us,” Gibbs shouts back.  

“Sarah, go to your station,” I say, looking into her eyes. I’m nervous, but I try not to show it. The blood is rushing through my veins and my knees are weak. 

“Captain, they are trying to communicate,” Gibbs says. 

“Put them on!” The screen lights up with a picture of a rugged-faced alien. 

The alien smirks and says, “It’s futile to resist. We will board soon. You can either give us the packages or we can do this the hard way.”

I try to keep calm. I smile and respond, “Why do you even want these packages? They are just monthly supplies. Nothing special.”

“That’s none of your business.”

I start to say something snarky but stop myself. I can’t have anyone getting hurt, especially Sarah. “Alight. You can have the packages, but you leave my crew alone.” Everyone on the ship gasps. “My people are worth more than some mail.”

“Good. Boys! Begin boarding!” I see a herd of other aliens walk behind their captain as the video turns off. The bridge shakes as we collide with their docking port.

“Captain, what are you doing?” One of the crew asks angrily. 

I turn to her and say, “You think we can take them on? Then be my guest to die. I just want to keep everyone safe.”

“No. You want to keep Sarah safe.” 

I turn and walk away. “They are coming. I need to greet them with hospitality.” 

I get to the docking door, sighing to myself as I hit the button. It opens with a foul smell from the other side. The aliens are quite large with greyish skin. 

“Oh, what a lovely ship you have here!” The pirate captain yells. “Sorry to disturb you. It will only take a second. Please, show my men the way.” He smiles with yellow and rotten teeth.

“Down the hall and to your right, last door on the left,” I say, pointing. They march behind me to the destination. 

“Now, bring me to the command floor.”

“Why? That’s not part of the deal.”

The pirate captain laughs. He grabs me by the throat and picks me up. “I’ll find it myself then.” He lets go and I fall onto my hands and knees. I gasp for air and the captain kicks me in the stomach. I grab my stomach, collapsing. I look up and watch the alien walk out of sight. I lie on the floor for a few minutes. I know I have to get up, I have to make sure she’s ok. I struggle to get up. I get to my knees and start coughing. My throat is in so much pain. Finally, I finish standing up and start to the command floor.

When I get there, the pirate captain is already there in my chair. “Glad you could make it, Captain.” 

I look at the grotesque alien. 

“Well, you know it’s my ship, so I should be here,” I say in a hoarse voice. 

“Exactly! That is why you are safe.”

“Safe?”

“I always take at least one prisoner with me from a raid, but never the captain.”

My blood runs cold. I spin around and look at Sarah’s station. She is sitting there terrified. “I’m not going to let you take anyone.”

The pirate captain follows my gaze to her. “I see. Boys!” Two big aliens come running down the hall and onto the floor. “I want that one!” He points at Sarah. 

“Lenny!” Sarah screams at me. I lunge for her, but the aliens are faster. They grab her and drag her out of the doors. I start to go after them, but something grabs me by the arm. I turn around. It’s the pirate captain. 

“Sorry, but she’s mine now.” I struggle to break free, but the captain is much stronger. 

“No! You can’t do this!” He throws me into my chair. It knocks the air out of my lungs.

“Never make a deal with a pirate.” The captain’s laughter fills my head as he leaves the room. My stomach feels sick and my mouth is dry. 

“Sarah!” I scream as I come to. My eyes open wide. I’m in my room. I sit up and the dread fills my body. I hear a knock on the door. “Come in!” I shout. 

Gibbs walks in and says, “You’re dreaming of her again, aren’t you?” 

“Yes.” 

“It’s been two years, she’s gone. It’s not your fault.” He looks at me with sadness in his eyes. 

“She could be out there! I should be looking for her!” I yell, standing up and throwing my pillow across the room. I know he just trying to help.

“You did. You’ve got to let go.” I sit down on the bed and cry. The tears stream down my cheeks and the devastation in my heart is heavy. I grab a small box from where my pillow was. 

I open it and say, “A ring as beautiful as she is.” The metal and diamond shine from the moonlight coming in. “As long as I live, I will never rest until I find her. I can never let go.”

Prison

“Day twenty-six!” I scream at the top of my lungs. I glance down and mumble to myself, “Twenty-six.” I take a sip of my vodka and relax in the raggedy armchair near the window; I look out, but all I see is blackness. The same blackness that is behind all the exits. I am stuck in this old room. At least there is booze, I tell myself.

A ghostly figure appears in front of me with a disapproving expression. Its silvery transparent body hovering above the floor. “You again.” I roll my eyes. I can feel the disdain rise in my soul.

“Getting trashed because you can’t leave?” The figure fusses in a ghastly tone.

I look at the figure and shrug. “What else am I going to do?” I down my liquor, the alcohol burns my throat on the way down. I make a face.

“Don’t you think you could think of what you’ve done?” Instantaneously becoming enraged; I violently squeeze my hands into fists, crushing my glass.

“You broke another glass. Could you stop doing that?” the figure says.

“I’d kill you if you weren’t already dead. You know that, don’t you?”

“You’re bleeding on the carpet.” I look at the figure for a second and then down at the carpet. The carpet is old with holes in it.

“I think it will be ok. It’s due for a cleaning, anyway.” I open my hand to see glass pieces fall to the floor. The bleeding has ceased and my hand looks good as new.

“You can’t leave until you learn your lesson,” another voice says. I look over and see a black cat licking its paws.

“Thanks, Mr. Whiskers, but I already know the true meaning of Christmas,” I say sarcastically.

The cat hisses at me and says, “That attitude is the reason you’re here, you know?”

I laugh, “I get it. She’s angry.”

“Angry? I’d say pissed,” a female’s voice says. My eyes widen.

“Abigail,” I say, standing up. She’s beautiful. Her long blonde curls wrap around her round face. Her pouty lips are now thin with hatred.

“I’ve come to see how progress is coming. Have you repented for your sins?” she asks, crossing her arms.

“If that’s what it would take to get out of here, then sure,” I say with a smirk on my face.

She gives me a death glare and says, “I felt pity for you, but that was short-lived.”

“Awe, come on, babe! You can’t stay mad at me.”

“You obviously have learned nothing and never will.”

“I’m glad you realized. Can I leave now?” I ask.

“No.”

“Then what do you want from me?”

“I want you to suffer as I did. Because you refuse to learn from your actions, you will stay here for eternity.” She looks deep into my eyes with anger, but I can still see the hurt underneath. Then she leaves as fast as she came, vanishing.

“You can’t leave me in here!” I scream. I angrily throw my chair across the room.

“Please don’t do that. You’re making a mess,” the figure wails. The realization that there is nothing I can do starts creeping into my brain. I fall to the ground. Tears cascade down my face.

“Please don’t leave me here. Abigail, please! I’m sorry.”

“It’s no use to plead. You’re stuck here. Forever,” Mr. Whiskers says snidely.

“Forever,” I repeat, lying down on the dirty floor. The lump in my throat dissolves. “Forever in this room. Forever with a ghost with anxiety and a damn cat.” I close my eyes and sigh. “I don’t think the booze is going to last that long.”

Missing

As the astronauts reenter Earth’s atmosphere, they feel a sense of accomplishment. Their capsule began parachuting into the Atlantic, where ships were strategically waiting for them. The three of them had made it to Mars and back, something people had only been dreaming of. 

“Good job, everyone! Our achievements will be taught for generations!” one exclaims excitedly.

When the capsule lands roughly in the water and the men from the ships open the hatch, they are congratulatory and cheer the astronauts while helping them out the capsule. 

“Where is the other one?” one man asks them. 

The astronauts faces soon turn to confusion, but laugh it off. “You’re always joking!” an astronaut says. 

The man grins and helps them onto the ship. The astronauts can feel the tension in the air the whole ride to the shore. 

Once there, they walk down their practiced path, waving to millions on live television. The crowd is cheering loudly. After they all exit, the crowd slowly gets quiet. A man in a black suit rushes them into a nearby car. The Astronauts are confused and upset.

“What’s going on? Did something happen?” a woman astronaut asks. The man in the suit does not answer, he only looks more confused. The finally car stops at an airport. 

“Where are we going?” One of the male astronauts ask. The man still does not answer, he only directs them to a plane. The plane seems to a personal jet with a military symbol on it. 

“We demand to know where we are going!” the other male says. Men in uniform grab the astronauts and drag them onto the plane. They struggle to break the grip but the men are too strong. 

The plane is filled with military guarding a man sitting by a window.The man looks to be older with grey hair and is wearing a nice suit. The man looks at them and smiles. 

“Hello! Mr. Kevin Hanson, Dr. Matt Nicolas, and Dr. Kate Wither. I’m glad to see you three made it! I’m Mr. Donovan, head investigator for the Federal Bureau of Investigations,” he explains. 

The astronauts look at each other in confusion. 

“What are you investigating and how can we help you?” Kate asks. “We have been in space for a long time so unless it has to do with one of us, we won’t know anything.”

The man looks her dead in the eyes and says, “Where is the fourth astronaut?” 

She laughs but sees he isn’t joking. “Just like we told the man at the capsule, there are only us three,” she says confused.

“No,” he says and pulls out a file. He hands it to the three and says, “You’re missing one.”

The group opens the file and passes it around looking deeper into the paperwork. Pictures fall out of the bottom landing on their feet. Kevin picks one up and his face turns pale. He hands the photo to Matt and Kate. Kate realizes it’s a photo of them getting ready for the mission. They are all there, including the fourth astronaut. 

“Who is this?” Kate screams as she paces back and forth with the photo.

“Mr. Ned Lowes,” Donovan says calmly. “Now, if something happened you can tell me. You don’t have to keep this charade up. We all know he was there with you.”

Kevin sits down and stares blankly in front of him. 

“I promise you it was only us three. There must have been a mistake. I’ve never seen that man in my life,” Matt says sure of himself. 

Donovan looks down at the floor and laughs, “I don’t make mistakes. Now, we can do this the hard way if you want.” 

Kevin is still sitting motionless, eyes wide. 

“Maybe he can tell me something. He looks like a man with a secret.” Donovan walks over to Kevin and grabs him by the hair. “Are you going to tell me what you know?” 

Kevin sits quietly, looking the man in the eyes. Kevin never changes expressions even with the man tugging his hair tighter and tighter. 

“Can I have a pen?” Kevin finally asks. Donovan smiles and hands him one quickly. Kevin holds it in his hand for a few minutes before plunging it into his neck. Blood squirts on Donovan’s face and Kevin makes a gurgling noise as blood fills his mouth. Kate screams and grabs onto Matt.

Donovan wipes his face and turns to the others, “Does anyone else want to kill themselves?” 

The others, speechless in panic, look at their dead friend. They feel a sense of hopelessness wash over them. Kate sits down and cries. She shakes violently and mumbles nonsense. Matt tries to talk to her but she doesn’t even notice him. She just keeps mumbling. 

Matt walks over to the folder and looks at the reports. They all include Ned Lowes. He bends down to the floor and grabs the photos. There are pictures of all of them getting on the spaceship. Matt doesn’t know what is right anymore. 

Matt thinks awhile and finally, says, “We killed him. It was self-defense. He was crazy.” Matt has no idea what happened to the man but he knows he must make up something to secure his survival.

Donovan walks to the front of the plane and opens the door to the pilots. He quickly shuts the door behind him as he goes in. There is a big screen on the wall showing many people in lab coats watching a smaller screen.

“Two suffered a psychotic break, one lethal, and one lied. Similar to the hypothesis we calculated. What should I do with the test subjects now?” He reports to the screen.

A man on the screen writes furiously and says, “Kill them, we got all the footage we need. We’ll say it was a plane crash.”

Donovan waits and says, “Wouldn’t it be more effective to study the mind of the man who lied. See what he does in prison for a crime that didn’t happen? There is so much potential to learn about human behavior here.”

“I like your thinking!” the man says. 

Doctor Love

I scribble out my notes in anger for the millionth time. 

“Why?” I scream and put my head in my hands. “Why can’t I figure this out? Such a simple emotion evades me.” 

I hear a shriek and look up at the rat that I dosed with my concoction. It screams and foams from its little mouth. I put my finger up to the cage and feel it bite me. At least I feel something. 

“You should really put it out of its misery.” I hear a woman say. 

“Me or the rat?” I respond and turn to look at her. It’s my colleague Dr. Curry, she has been a close friend for years. 

She giggles at my melancholy joke and says, “When are you going to give up on that love potion? You know it’s not real, it’s something from out of a fairy tale. You have some much potential you could do anything you set your mind to.” 

“You wouldn’t understand,” I whisper back and grab the rat. It struggles to get free of my grip, it’s no use. I grab the head with my other hand and snap its neck. 

If people knew what this means to me they wouldn’t be so cruel. 

“If I can’t talk you out of it, I’ll help you finish it. Here,” she hands me a notebook. “It’s not finished, but it’s a different take on what you have been working with. You need some pretty strange ingredients. They say there is a flower that can be used to imitate love in the brain.”

“I know about the flower! It doesn’t work,” I say. 

“That’s because you are using it wrong,” she scoffs and walks to my workstation. “You need to mix it with this after extracting the serum.” She grabs a few items and mixes them together. 

My brain instantly starts working, following her every move and direction. “You need to add lavender!” I blurt out and take the concoction from her. I add the ingredient and purple smoke comes off the top. I pour it on the closest rat I can. The rat is normal at first, walking around the cage, then it starts to stumble. It vomits green bile profusely and starts to swell. It gets bigger and bigger until its skin cannot take the capacity and busts. Rat sludge seeps out from the ripped skin and leaks everywhere.

“Well, at least we tried,” she says sadly. “I’ve got to go to a meeting. I’ll see you later, Greg.” She walks out of the room and closes the door behind her.

Her saying my name makes my insides warm. If I could harness this feeling then I could finish this! I throw the ingredients off the table and watch them crash to the floor. I put my face back in my hands and cry. My whole existence depends on this potion. I stand up and look down at the mess on the floor. My tears fall into the puddle of ingredients and turn it into a beautiful color. I bend down and take a sample with a pipette. 

“I have nothing else. It’s now or never,” I say and squirt the pipette into my mouth. I swallow the horrible tasting mess, it burns all the way down. I fall onto my hands. The pain in my stomach is debilitating and I think I’m dying. I scream as loud as I can in pain and anguish. As the room goes in and out of focus, I see someone come to me. Their cold fingers touch my skin, creating a temporary relief. 

“Greg!” I hear Dr. Curry scream. All the noises in the room start to run together. I am dying. 

“I just wanted to love myself again,” I can barely make the words come out of my mouth, but as they do, blood pours out with them. The room starts to fade to black and I know it’s the end. 

I Can Hear You

“Mom!” I hear someone scream.

“What?” I shout back as I walk to the living room and see my two kids arguing. 

My oldest, Jennifer, rolls her eyes.  “Yeah right. You’re such a liar, Sam.” 

“I’m not lying! It was there!” my youngest, Samuel, screams. 

“Stop it you two!” I say sternly. “Now, get on the bus or it will leave without you.”

They groan and walk out of the door. 

I rub my face and go back to finish what I was doing in my office. I sit down at my laptop and rejoin my Zoom call. 

“Welcome back, Heather,” my boss says coldly. 

I hear a crash and the sound of glass breaking. I mute the call.

“I told you to get on the bus! If I have to drive you, I’m going to be pissed,” I scream.

The tv comes on at full blast. I get up and stomp into the other room. 

“I told you-” I’m interrupted by intense pain in my foot. Looking down I see glass on the floor, that is slowly turning red near my foot. It must have come from a picture frame. There are a few picture frames on the side table in the hallway. 

“For Christ’s sake!” I shout. I lift up my foot and pull the large piece of glass out. Blood continues to profusely flow. I wobble to the bathroom to get some bandages. I hear the tv turn off. 

“Samuel! If that was you, you are grounded!” I say tending to my foot. 

The cut is pretty deep and looks like it might need stitches. I put a few big bandaids on it and wrap it with a larger bandage. I can already see blood seeping through. I walk on my heel into my office. The Zoom call has ended. I’m sure my boss is going to be mad at me for leaving. I grab my phone and purse. 

“I’m probably okay to drive, I’ve got to get stitches before I bleed out,” I say to myself walking to the front door. 

I grab the doorknob and turn. There is resistance on the door when I pull. I pull it open about two inches and it stops. I look out of the small gap to see what the problem is. I can barely see so I stick my fingers in the space and try to feel around. I notice something holding onto the knob.

Ding! My phone goes off. I ignore it, it’s probably my boss yelling at me. 

I put my fingers back through the slot. I feel along with the knob. It’s a wire? I keep feeling running my fingers down the wire. I slice my finger on something sharp and pull my hand back quickly. Blood is running down my finger. 

Razor wire?

Ding! My phone goes off again. I grab it out of my pocket to see two messages from an unknown number. “I can hear you,” they both say. 

I drop my phone and look around me. “Hello?” I scream. “Is someone here?”

Thud! I hear something upstairs.

I bend down to pick up my phone. I go to dial 911. 

Ding! A message comes across my screen, “They will never make it in time.”

I dial it anyways. The operator answers asking me what is the problem. 

“Someone is in my house!” I cry. “I live at-” The phone is ripped from my hands. I look above me to see a large man. He drops it to the ground and he stomps on it before I can grab it. The phone is smashed to pieces. Hope drains from my body as I look up and see his devilish smile. 

“No need to get others involved. We can be alone now,” he says calmly. He grabs my hair and pulls me over to the couch. 

“My husband will be home soon!” I yell quickly. 

“No. He won’t. I have been living in your house for a month now. I think I would know that you don’t have one.” He stated while tearing some tape off a roll. He grabs my hands and puts the tape on them. I try to jerk away but he is too strong. He tears off more tape and puts it over my mouth. Tears rush down my face. I know this is the end. Whatever may come is just prolonging my death. 

He looks at me with evil intent and laughs, “You’re mine now.” He reaches out to grab me again but is knocked back. I look around but see nothing. The man tries to stand back up but is knocked over again.

I feel a shiver down my spine. A bright white figure comes into view seemingly out of thin air. The man is terrified and tries to back away. The figure puts out its hand and the man flies into the wall. His body goes up the wall and onto the ceiling. The figure opens its mouth and a loud shriek comes out. The lights flicker and the ceiling fan shakes. The man’s face begins to bleed and skin starts to slough off. I close my eyes but I can still hear their screams. 

It finally stops and I hear something fall to the ground, with a wet gushy noise. I open my eyes. The figure is standing over a pile of flesh and bones on the floor. It looks at me and I panic. I get up and run behind the couch. 

“Be not afraid.” I hear. “I have been here for many years.”

I stand up and look at the figure. It is no longer bright white, it is more of a transparent grey. It looks like a woman. She has long hair and looks to maybe be a teenager. 

“Jennifer?” I question.

“No. I am not your Jennifer. My name is Sarah. I died long ago in this house. I could not bear to see someone else perish where I did. You are safe now,” she explains.

My eyes start to feel heavy and my body is weak. I fall to the ground and close my eyes

“You’re bleeding out. I’ll get help,” I hear her say. 

***

When I wake up I’m being wheeled into an ambulance. 

I can hear the paramedics talking, “The attacker got away, she must have fought him off.” 

“Where is she?” I whisper. 

One of them looks at me and says, “It’s alright now. The attacker is gone. You got lucky.”

All fun and games til I hit the ground comatose

Beep.

Where am I?

Beep.

What is that beeping?

Beep.

It’s so bright in here, I can barely open my eyes. As the room comes into focus I try to figure out what is happening. I’m in some kind of bed. A hospital maybe? I see a woman next to me. She is in scrubs; probably a hospital. She is typing on something.

“Hello?” I whisper. My mouth is dry and my voice is coarse. “Can you help me?”

She doesn’t acknowledge me. She keeps typing. I try asking more questions, she still does not notice me.

“Am I dead?” I scream at her.

“You are close,” a gravelly voice answers.

I turn toward the voice and see something of nightmares. A skeletal figure in a robe stares back at me. I turn back to the woman and start screaming.

“She can’t help you,” it says and reaches out to grab me. I jump and fall to the ground. I try to grab the woman’s leg, but my hand goes right through them. I don’t believe it. I try again, with the same results.

“You can’t touch them,” the figure says. “We need to hurry this up.”

“Leave me alone!” I yell at it. “You’re not real and this isn’t happening!”

“Denial. It’s the hardest.” I see the figure walk through the woman and over to me. It puts its hand down to me. “Come on.”

I just stare at it. Its empty eye sockets stare back. I hesitate but eventually reach my hand to it. It helps me get to my feet.

“Who are you?” I ask.

“I am a reaper.”

A loud beep goes off. The woman runs over to my body that is still on the bed. She shouts, “Code blue!”

A bunch of people run into the room with a cart. They pull out one of the machines off the cart.

“Clear!” Someone screams.

I feel a jolt inside me. Like a current burning through my whole body. I fall to my knees. The ringing in my ears makes it hard to think. I feel the jolt again. This time it’s not as harsh.

“Call it,” I barely hear over the ringing.

Something touches my shoulder. I open my eyes to see the reaper. “Now you’re dead. I’m here to help you cross over.”

The reality sinks into my head and I ask, “What if I’m not ready? Where will I go?”

The reaper is silent for a moment and then says, “This is always the hardest part. I don’t have the answers to your questions. All I know is that I must get you to the other side before something happens.”

“What could happen? I’m dead. I’ve got eternity right?”

“Yes, but so does everything else.” It looks behind him. “Like him.”

I turn and look. There is something huge with devilish horns walking towards us. It stands on two legs but they look broken. Its six eyes are deep black and its mouth is full of sharp teeth.

“What is that?” I scream.

“It’s a demon. You have about two minutes before it jumps into your body and wreaks havoc in the human world,” it says calmly.

“How do we stop it?”

“Come with me. Crossing over will close the window into your mortal body.”

It puts his hand out for mine. I feel trapped. I look back at the demon as it begins running towards my body. I only have seconds before my decision is made for me. I turn towards the reaper and grab its lifeless hand.

Dig Deep

It is dark. I look up but see nothing, only blackness.

“Help!” I scream. It echoes in a small space.

I put my hands up and hit something. A surface. My hands run along it. It’s wooden. I feel all around me.

I’m trapped.

“Somebody, please!” I begin to panic.

I hit the wood. It doesn’t budge.

I breathe heavily and cry. I’m buried. Alive.


“Like, does she even matter?” I say to Brian.

“I don’t know,” he responds sadly. “But I care about her.”

I sip my frozen coffee and lean back in my chair. “You just need to move on.”

“Katilyn, you’re so cold,” he says.

“I’ve always been cold. Everyone leaves anyways, what does it matter?” I say rudely.

“Whatever, I’ve got to get going.” he gets up.

I turn to look out the window.

“Hello,” a deep voice says.

I turn around, “What?”

“I just saw you and thought I needed to tell you how pretty you were,” a man with thin round glasses and a stylish man bun says.

“Ok,” I say and turn back to the window.

“Can I sit with you?” he asked.

“I don’t care.”

“You know, you should be nicer to people,” he says seriously.

“Or what?” I chuckle.

“Someone might put you in an early grave,” he grins big.

I stop and look at him. “Yeah, I need to be going.”

He grabs me by my arm, “I’ll be seeing you.”

I pull away and jump out of my seat. “Screw off, weirdo!”

“What? I just want to feel your skin,” He looks dead in my eyes. I stop breathing and the blood runs from my face.

“Be safe Katilyn,” he says in a smooth evil voice.

My eyes widen in horror. How does he know my name? I step back and run out of the coffee shop. I don’t stop running until I reach my apartment and lock the door. “No way he followed me,” I think. I put a chair in front of the door to barricade it shut. “But you can’t be too safe.”

I go to grab my phone to tell Brian. I feel in my pocket. Nothing. I pat my sides and back. Nothing. I must have left it at the shop. “It’s okay, I’ll get it tomorrow,” I say to myself.

I walk over to the couch. I feel different. I feel drunk. The room is spinning. I fall onto the cushions. I close my eyes and feel the rotation. What is wrong with me? Did that guy slip something in my drink?

“No.” I hear.

My eyes swing open. Him. I see him. “How..” That’s all I can say.

He laughs. “I put something in your apartment earlier. Something to make you sick.”

I start to see black spots and roll onto the floor. My body doesn’t hurt when I hit the ground. I am numb.

“Don’t fight it, sweetie. It only makes it worse,” He brushes my hair back.


“Honey, are you ready to apologize?” I hear in the darkness.

I open my eyes. I dozed off. I’m still in the box.

“Have you learned your lesson?” The voice talks again. It’s choppy and full of static. “I can hear you breathe, I know you’re scared.”

Where is it coming from? I feel around the box again. There it is, under my leg, a walkie-talkie made into the wall of the box. I can feel the outline with the tips of my fingers.

“Let me out!” I cry. I feel the hot tears run down the sides of my face.

“Apologize to me,” he says.

“I hate you!” I scream in frustration.

“Now you’ve hurt my feelings for the last time.”

I hit the wood in front of me. It’s solid.

“You can’t leave me here!”

I furiously pick at the wood. Picking turns into scratching. My fingers hurt and I think they are bleeding. I feel a piece of the wood lodge itself under my fingernail. I keep scratching and the nail pops off.


“Rise and shine!” He sings. His voice melds with the crying and carries through the rooms.

I remember. I was taken. It’s been weeks. There is more than just me. He has several other girls down here in our cells. Most of the girls are either crying or silent. Weakened by the horrors that have happened to them.

I can hear him coming down the stairs. He is bringing out our only meal for the next few days. Mostly scrapes from his dinners. He pours the slop in the trough in the center of the cells and we eat like animals.

“Isn’t it a beautiful day?” he says to all of us.

“I wouldn’t know. There are no windows in my cell,” I say back.

“I told you to be nice,” he grits his teeth.

“Fuck you,” I yell.

He comes into my cell and grabs me by the face. He squishes my jaw as hard as he can. I feel like it might break. “Keep talking and I’ll cut your tongue out, precious.”

I spit on him. “Do it.”

He lets me go and says, “Why can’t you be like the others?” He bends down and kisses a girl that is sitting next to me. She doesn’t move. Her eyes are glazed, her mind gone.


You are my sunshine!” A lady’s voice is butchered by the poor signal. He has been playing this song for a long time now. I don’t know how long exactly.

“How long have I been in here?” I mumble to myself.

My mind is starting to go. I think of all the things I could have done differently. Should I have been nicer? Should I have been a better person? Do I belong here?

“I’m sorry,” I say the bitter words weakly.

“It’s too late darling. Goodbye,” he says back.

I think of the other girls I met in captivity. Their fates are sealed. I hope their deaths are better than mine.

Assault with a Deadly Shell

Once upon a time, there was a turtle living in a quaint little park. Just a typical turtle that witnessed some not-so-typical events, events that some would say were disgusting and demented. The turtle was the only witness. It could tell no one. It could only live with what it had seen. 

Each night the turtle witnessed crimes so heinous, they would drive a human mad. The turtle did not understand what it saw, but the continuous crying and screaming made it uneasy.

Each night the turtle would watch the same man perform these events. The man did not look like someone who would perform such acts of evil; he was tall with dark hair that was always well kept. He lured many women here to their doom with his charm alone. The man had everything he could want and wanted more. So he took everything, including the life of others. 

One night during one of these crimes, like most of them, a woman was screaming for help. She was running and fell over the turtle. The commotion startled the turtle. It hid in its shell but slowly peeked out. The turtle looks at her and questioned why they always look so scared. It wonders why things are so loud, then it gets quiet.

The man approaches, and she crawls away in fear. She begs for mercy. He laughs, she was stopped by a mere turtle. 

“This turtle will not only be your downfall but your end.” He says smoothly. His voice sounds like an angel’s, but he was closer to the devil. 

He knows he has her now; he has been playing with her for hours and it was time to stop. That would be mercy. 

He picks up the turtle and slams it into her skull. She falls onto the soft ground and groans. It jolted the turtle around, tearing flesh from the shell. It cannot stop it. Their fate is sealed. He slams the turtle again and again until the woman is unrecognizable. Her face destroyed and her brains on the ground. The turtle has become part of the events.

The man liked the way the shell felt in his hand. It fit almost perfectly in his palm. He wants to keep the turtle for future endeavors. He pulls out his knife. The turtle is upset and wants to getaway. It feels the cold knife touch its skin, and it hides in its shell. The man cuts the fleshy parts out and lets them drop to the ground.

That was the end of the typical turtle who became an untypical weapon.

The Hitchhiker

The silence is killing me. 

“So, East you say?” I try starting the conversation. 

“Yeah,” she says coldly, her eyes never leaving the road. 

“How far East?” 

“Far.”

“What are you going for?” I say, trying to keep it alive.

She gives a brief smile and says, “School.”

I look over at her, her smile is beautiful. I may have only just met her, but I feel this strange attraction to her. Her tan skin and long blonde hair are so enticing. 

“What kind of school?”

“The hard kind,” she sighs and looks out the window. We drive another forty miles until we speak again. 

“I have to use the bathroom,” she demands. My GPS informs me there isn’t a gas station for miles. 

“I’m sorry, I think you’ll have to hold it,” I say. As those words fall from my lips, I see it. A gas station, in the middle of nowhere. “Nevermind?” I question my eyes. 

We stop and I decide to get some gas while we are there. She goes inside and talks to the clerk. 

The sun is going down and covering the sky in pinkish-orange light. I look around. The gas station is old and run down. I decide to walk inside. The clerk seems to be as old as the station. His name tag is worn, and it barely reads ‘Henry’. I grab a bag of chips and walk to the counter. 

“Hey, Henry. What’s up?” I ask, not caring about the answer. 

He grunts. 

I look behind him at the hanging sign. “Sandwiches $1,” it reads. 

“What kind of sandwiches are they?” I ask. 

He stares at me and says, “Meat.”

“Ok then, just the chips.” I pay and run back to my car. 

After about thirty minutes, I get worried about my hitchhiker. Another fifteen passes and I’m distressed. I go back inside to ask the clerk where she went, but he is gone. 

I walk up to the restrooms and knock on the door. “Hello?” 

Nothing.

“We need to be going!” I shout.

Nothing again. 

Something touches my arm, and I spin around fast. 

Then it all goes black. 

*  *  *

I wake up in the dark and move to stand up, but something tugs on my limbs. I pull my arm hard and hear the chains clank around. 

“Hey!” I scream. “Somebody help me!”

Dim lights come on, and I see a figure in front of me. I try to scream, but a swift kick knocks the air out of my lungs. 

“Shut up,” a familiar voice commands. It’s male. “Meat don’t talk.”

He takes me by the wrist and holds my arm against a small table. I struggle, but he is too strong. 

“Please!” I cry. 

He grabs my upper arm with the other hand and bends. With a loud crack, my elbow snaps backward. I try to scream again, but nothing comes out. He lets go of my arm, but I can’t move it. The pain is unbearable. I can barely see, but I notice the light gleam off of something metal. 

“No,” I manage weakly. 

He holds the blade up and forcefully brings it down on my broken elbow. It slices through my broken elbow like butter. He picks up my severed arm and throws it in a bucket. There is cold air on the severed tissue, but the pain is hot. 

I can feel the blood rushing out. My world spins, and I see black spots. I go limp and vomit rolls out of my mouth. 

“He lasted longer than I thought he would,” I hear a female say.

Slaughter

I was at home with my family when they took me. We saw them coming and knew it was time. I had outlived my purpose. I have nothing left to give. I could try to run and hide, but what good would it do? I said my goodbyes and kissed my children. I looked up to the warm summer sky and held back the tears. I had always loved the way a summer’s day felt. The heat on my skin and the wind in my hair.

They grabbed me and walked me over to the vehicle. I tried to do as I was told. They pushed and shoved me in every direction. I fell in the mud a few times. They didn’t help me up. They only shouted at me till I got to my feet. 

I could see old friends of mine walking the same path. I felt sympathy for them and their families. We all knew it would go this way, we just didn’t want to believe it.

They loaded us up. We all looked at each other with the same thought running through our minds. Some of us talked to each other to calm our nerves. As they drove, I saw pastures I wished I was in. I remember the good times I had in the past. The way the grass felt and the way the flowers smelled. 

We finally arrived at the facility, and my heart sank. The end was getting closer. I wanted to run or make a scene. Something to stop what was coming. I wasn’t ready yet!

They herded us down a narrow shoot, one behind another. We all moved as one. Unable to run away, only moving closer. Closer to the sound of a pressurized shot, then the thud. With every step I took, it got louder. They called it stunning. It is supposed to be humane, so we don’t feel them bleed us out.

God have mercy on us.

Finally, it was my turn. I had watched and heard the others in front of me. I knew what was coming. I could hear the blood rushing through my veins. Everyone I love will meet this same fate. 

I looked down the barrel of that gun with hopelessness. I knew our fate and knew I couldn’t stop it. They had herded us for the slaughter. They pulled the trigger. I flinched as the bolt went into my brain. It was over. 

***

The other cows walked to their demise the same way.