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The Red Book of Appin

October 11, 2017 Leave a comment

The thrift store was as tiny and cramped as I had hoped when I saw it. The older and more cluttered a shop like this was, the more likely that I would find a great deal. It’s hard to feed your passions when you are broke. Book collecting could be very expensive.

The store had been open for no more than twenty minutes. I had every intention of finishing before noon, but there was a sandwich and water bottle in my backpack just in case. It wasn’t like I had never lost an entire day before.

“All bags need to be checked in here,” the cashier said as I walked past.

I nodded and handed mine to her. We heard the crinkle of foil and shared a smile. She understood.

Time sped up as I made my way through the shelves. I skipped the handmade, so called, art and the various knickknacks who had found their way here from any number of yard sales. I blew dust off of some stacks of magazines and did my best to keep from knocking down old fast food toys that should have been thrown into the garbage. I only stopped to look at the books.

When I found it, I was more than a little confused. The red cover and the binding of the spine looked to be professional, but the variety of papers used in the pages meant it was handmade. I opened it, and found a collection of different languages. Each entry was written by hand. Different inks, different levels of skill. Yet each one was the same.

“I,” and a name or word, “do hereby take employment on,” some very old dates, “from the gentleman in possession of this book.”

It couldn’t be. I knew the story but it was just a folk tale. It couldn’t be real. I couldn’t read most of the entries, but that didn’t matter. This had to be some form of prop.

When I checked the back, I saw the two dollar price tag. I was done. I had no idea what time it was, but I was done. Even if it was a prop to a play or a movie, it was still supposed to be The Red Book of Appin. I had to have it.

I mean, come on, who could blame me?

 

*** Inspired by the Scottish folk tale The Red Book of Appin. Read that story Here ***

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Categories: Flash Fiction

Punch

September 13, 2017 Leave a comment

The sound of skin smacking against leather was methodical, almost mechanical.

~ Whack ~

It had been that way for longer than anyone expected.

~ Whack ~

The single motion of the swing.

~ Whack ~

The focus on the task.

~ Whack ~

It was a form of meditation, of single mindedness to exclude other thought.

~ Whack ~

He was doing it to keep away the memories.

~ Whack ~

So that he wouldn’t be thinking about the things he had lost.

~ Whack ~

So that he wouldn’t cry until his eyes were so swollen that they couldn’t open.

~ Whack ~

They way they did when he in his empty house.

~ Whack ~

The one that used to be a home.

~ Whack ~

Nobody had understood why he had purchased the heavy bag.

~ Whack ~

And after six months of using it, his body had changed.

~ Whack ~

He was toned in ways he had never been before.

~ Whack ~

Not that it mattered.

~ Whack ~

He never went anywhere except for work.

~ Whack ~

Eight hours of staring at a screen and typing what he was told to.

~ Whack ~

A few more than eight hours throwing punches at something that couldn’t have its lawyer protect it.

~ Whack ~

One day, he would see the other driver again.

~ Whack ~

He would be ready.

~ Whack ~

 

Say What? Part 4

June 22, 2017 Leave a comment

“This sucks so much worse than I imagined it would,” Tom said. He looked down at his watch and sighed. “We’ve been here for three hours and nothing.”

Harry didn’t respond. He was looking out the window, fog forming on the glass from his breath.

“I blame you.”

The dog took the blaming with stoic aplomb.

Over the years that Tom had known Malone, he had gotten familiar with the doctor’s house. They were both lonely and Tom’s interests made it easy for them to have a reason to talk. Neither would have felt comfortable just calling up a friend to hang out but as long as Tom was writing, they had an excuse.

Years of beer and pizza while discussing injuries and accidents. All sorts of talk about anything just so that they could have a friend.

The big dog belched and Tom looked at him with a disgusted snarl. “Excuse you,” he said before wrinkling his nose and jumping out of the car. “Oh good god. I am getting your teeth brushed tomorrow you disgusting beast.”

Harry began to pant while wagging.

When Tom shut his door again, he turned to lecture the dog, but stopped without a word.

Harry turned and faced the backseat. His lips pulled away from his teeth and he snarled so that Tom could feel the vibration in the seat.

But the back was empty.

Say What? Part 3

June 15, 2017 Leave a comment

The idea of the doppleganger ate away at Tom’s days. Minutes slipped by while he stared at his computer without any idea of what he was looking at. He would sit in the restroom looking up legends and definitions until his legs went numb and he almost ran stop signs on his way home.

Two days later, and he had covered every inch of his novel planning wall with notes and drawings about the creature.

His dog, Harry, was sitting behind him licking the last evidence of having eaten the pizza, while Tom stood staring at his wall with his arms crossed over his chest.

“The problem is that the magical creature I think of when I use the word doppleganger can’t exist,” he said without looking back over his shoulder. “No matter how much I want there to be magic in the world, it’s easier if I accept that it isn’t.”

Tom turned around and grabbed an empty beer bottle. He tried to take a drink, frowned at the bottle, then headed into the kitchen to get another. “Harry,” he said. “What do you think?”

The dog stared up without comment.

“Right,” Tom said. “If it isn’t magical, then it has to be a twin or a disguise.” He turned to look at his dog and smiled. “So if that is true, then that means we can try to track whichever it is. That means it is time for a stakeout.”

Categories: Flash Fiction, serial

Say What?

May 17, 2017 2 comments

“Hey, can you check something for me?”

Sarah looked up from her monitor and smiled at Tom. “Sure.”

Tom leaned his elbows on the counter and looked Sarah in the eyes. The first thought was to ask for her number or address, but he knew the flirting would have to wait. For one thing, she would expect it. For the other, he really didn’t have time today. “Can you tell me what time Dr. Malone left last night?”

Sarah’s eyes got wide and she went a little pale.

“What?”

“You haven’t heard.” She said it in a whisper, and she wasn’t smiling anymore.

“Heard?”

“Dr. Malone died last night,” Sarah said. She reached over and grabbed a tissue. “He called for a pizza since he was working late, but when he didn’t meet the delivery guy at the door, the kid called the cops. They found him slumped over his desk.”

Tom stood with his mouth hanging open as he tried to process the words. “What time did they find him?”

Sarah sniffled before answering. “About seven.”

Tom lowered his head. He had come to see the doctor at nine last night. He remembered the pizza, because Malone had given him a slice before they started discussing the case. “What the fuck,” he said.

“I know,” Sarah said. “He was such a nice doctor. Nobody knows why someone would have wanted to hurt him.”

“Hurt him?”

She bit her lip before nodding. “Yeah. He was shot.”

Tom opened and closed his mouth a few times before just turning around and leaving. He hoped they were just wrong about the times, but considering what Sarah had said about the pizza, Tom was sure that this wasn’t going to be a simple mistake. He didn’t know what it was, but he had to find out.

Visitors

May 10, 2017 Leave a comment

Each tiny foot made a soft sound as it touched down on the rough industrial carpet that filled the office. She could hear them since her ear was pressed against the door, but only if Rayanne held her breath. She had to be careful not to hold her breath too long though, because then she would gasp. If they heard her gasp, they would come to investigate. They would find her. That would be the end of it all.

Rayanne heard them find Mark. He was hiding under a desk when she darted into the supply closet. His voice was so deep that when he walked up behind her and asked if she needed anything for lunch, she could feel the bass rumble against the back of her neck. His yelling had been just as deep. The scream though, she would always remember how much higher his screaming sounded.

A group of guys started yelling. It was followed by the sounds of breaking glass and thumping, like someone were beating on a door. Rayanne backed away from the door and bit her hand to keep from crying. The glass must have been the windows on the conference room. Since it was Wednesday, that meant the software guys would have been in their weekly meeting. If Mark couldn’t protect himself, then they had no chance.

She fought to keep control as she listened to their yells change into screams. It lasted for a while, but not very long.

She sat in the closet, listening to the tiny foot falls, praying that they wouldn’t hear her. Rayanne watched the shadows cross the threshold of the door. They twisted the knob and one even knocked, but she didn’t make a noise.

Signs

There had been all sorts of signs and warnings that shit was about to go sideways. People disappearing and then a bunch of bodies being found in a fire. Dead animals and lights in the skies. Ghosts and strange noises. Buildings falling down and holes opening up in the ground.

We should have paid more attention.

Now, its too late. It ain’t safe to be anywhere no more. You walk around a corner, and all of a sudden something is there, waiting on you. You look at it, think maybe it didn’t see you yet, and try to ease back around the corner.

Then you run into its bigger, meaner, older brother.

Why didn’t we pay attention? Why didn’t we try to do something when we saw the signs?

Why didn’t we believe?