Don’t Pull the Plug

“You can’t be seriously considering it, Sir.”

“Of course, I am. I don’t want to any more than you do, but I have the lives of millions of people to consider.”

“But, Sir. Think of the future. What would it be like for our children!”

“I’m doing it for them!”

“Sir, I can’t let you do it.” He pulled out his weapon and fired. “I had to save them.”

The janitor walked in pushing a mop bucket shaking his head and muttering. He glanced at the standing man and handed him the mop. The flashing warning lights aggravated his migraine, so the janitor reached down and pulled the plug by the computer system.

A computerized voice said, “Emergency detonation in 3… 2… 1…”

I See You

Jack peered through his viewfinder and grinned. It cost him a second mortgage on his condo, but once he sold the photos to the highest bidder, he’d be on easy street. He watched the starlet giggle as she removed her bikini top. Click after click, Jack captured the honeymoon couple enjoying their private island getaway. Nothing’s private with this baby, he thought, stroking his camera. He unzipped his pants and was enjoying the show when the unmistakable click of a camera shutter interrupted him. His heart stopped as he realized someone had been watching him watch the couple. As he packed up his gear, all he could think about was how much it was going to cost him when the photographer contacted him. After all, that was the name of the game, right?

Three hours later, Jack lay on sidewalk below his condo balcony. The only clue to the crime was a photograph pinned to his shirt.

Featured image by S. Hermann & F. Richter from Pixabay

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Empty Nest

Jack laughed whenever someone mentioned empty nest syndrome after Amy left for college. There was no way that would ever happen to him. Never. He had made plans for that since Amy was born.

Wendy would turn Amy’s bedroom into her sewing room, which would free up the room for his new man-cave. A new tv, mini-fridge, and pool table waited in a storage room.

Friday afternoon, Jack and Wendy waved as Amy drove away for college. The house did seem quieter without her running up and down the stairs or yelling because the wifi didn’t quite reach her room.

Wendy wandered around the house then went into her sewing room for the rest of the night. Jack was often found peering into Amy’s room and glancing at the clock.

Saturday morning, Jack woke with a start. Scraping noises and banging from Amy’s room made his heart race. Had she come home already?

“What are you doing?” he asked.

Wendy looked at him in confusion as she sat the empty cardboard box on the floor. “Cleaning out the room like we planned. Come to give me a hand?” She picked up two of Amy’s trophies and set them in the box.

“Stop! Those are hers! Put everything back right now!”

Wendy’s friends had liked to tease her about empty nest syndrome when Amy left the house. “Nah, never. Been planning this since Amy was born.”

Featured image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Sunday Service

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Miss Wonderly murmured, “Thank you,” softly as before and sat down on the edge of the chair’s wooden seat. The preacher paused and glanced at her before continuing his sermon. As she tried to settle in and listen, the coolness of the room stung. Are you a new preacher, she wondered.

The longer she sat, the more uncomfortable she became. Something’s not right, she thought. Her heart pounded in her chest as the hair stood on the back of her neck. Someone was staring, she felt it in her bones. She shifted again in her seat, trying to be nonchalant as she glanced behind her. Her high-pitched scream silenced the preacher.

“Is there something wrong, Miss Wonderly?”

She looked at the faces around her and clutched her chest. “This cannot be… you’re… you’re… “

“And so are you, granddaughter.”

Sirens wailed as they raced down the street toward the rollover accident.


This 150-word story was written for 50-Word-Thursday #32

Stay Off The Old Road

Sarah and Michael, like all other children in town, grew up hearing stories of the old road that once brought grown men to their knees with fear. The road, they say, is the Devil’s road. One that will tempt, terrify, destroy. Sarah and Michael, like most children laughed at the old stories and taunted the myths every day on the way to and from school.

“Fogs rolling in,” Michael said, “maybe we should take the main road.”

“You’re not turning yellow, are ya?”

“Course not. It’s just… “

Sarah laughed and punched his arm as she ran past him and disappeared into the fog bank.

The two walked and joked as they did every morning but the hair on the back of their necks began to twitch as earthen landmarks failed to appear.

“Shouldn’t we be at Mrs. Foxwood’s back orchard by now?” Sarah asked, squinting at the thickening fog.

“Now who’s scared?”

“Shut up. Seriously though, shouldn’t we?”

Michael’s grin disappeared when he nodded.

“Let’s go back.” Sarah turned but could not see anything behind her. The fog encased the two friends in a wall of thick grey mist. The only way to go was forward.

Michael’s trembling hand reached for hers as the wall closed in and he could no longer see anything but the fog. He felt something cold and sweaty. “You’re as scared as I am, you can’t deny it. I feel it.”

“What do you mean?”

“Your hand. It’s cold.”

“No, it’s not.”

“Yes, it is. It’s like ice.”

“No, it’s not.”

“Sarah, I’m holding it right now. You can’t lie.”

A long silence greeted him in response.

“Michael?”

“Yeah?”

“Is that you?”

“Is who me?”

“The hand on my shoulder?”

“I’m holding your hand, stupid.”

“No, you’re not.” Her voice trembled. “Stop playing around. Stop pushing down so hard.”

“I’m not. Watch. Feel this?” He squeezed his hand as hard as he could. “That was me.”

“Michael… that’s not my hand,”

“I’m going to enjoy this,” a snarly voice whispered in Michael’s ear.

The Last One You’d Suspect

Blood splattering on the wall sang Mrs. Young’s final screams. Small, terrified streaks followed Eric to his room where he had sought furtive solace under his Buzz Lightyear blanket. The house hosted a silent mourning as police and medical personnel scurried about, unwelcome guests.

Copper and bile coated tongues with every breath as they remained focused on the task at hand.

“Where is everyone else?” Detective Randolph asked, pointing to a large, crimson streaked photograph over the television set.

“We only found the two so far.” Detective Matthews walked toward the photo and shook his head. “Cute kids. Let’s hope we’ve got this all wrong and their out there somewhere.”

“Detectives!” an officer called from somewhere on their floor. “Found another one.”

Randolph and Matthews deflated. Partners for thirty years, they knew what the other was thinking. Their instincts were never wrong.

“Which one?” Randolph asked before seeing the tiny piano fingers gripping the door frame in their final, desperate attempt to flee. He closed his eyes and reminded himself she wasn’t Suzie. Suzie was safe at home, tucked in her bed, watched over by her parents. “Who would do this to these kids?” he whispered.

Matthews clicked his pen repeatedly as he stared at the small body. “It’s personal. No stranger would do this kind of damage to a kid.”

Shots echoed through the house sending everyone into alert.

“Shit! Didn’t you clear the scene yet?” Randolph screamed, drawing his weapon.

“I thought we had,” the officer said, running past them.

A male’s voice called downstairs, “It’s clear now, but don’t come up here if you ate anything today.”

Randolph groaned and put his weapon away. “I’m getting too old for this shit.”

“Time to retire after this,” Matthews added.

“Take Rachael to the coast and live on the boat like she always wanted.” Randolph skirted pools of blood on the stairs.

Matthews pulled a handkerchief out of his pocket and covered his nose. “James and I are looking at a cabin in the Adirondacks. No more city life for us. No more… Holy fuck.”

Blood dripped from every corner of the attic. The male officer bolted past the detectives covering his mouth. From the sounds that echoed up the stairs, he didn’t make it outside in time.

“Nothing like contaminating the crime scene,” Randolph joked. He avoided looking what remained of Mr. Young scattered throughout the attic and focused on the most recent victim.

Her brown eyes gazed upward, looking full of life, fury, and despair. Not more than fourteen, dressed in ripped jeans and the concert shirt of a band he didn’t recognize. Nothing about this kid would lead anyone to believe they had been responsible for the carnage.

“You can’t be thinking this sweet thing did all this, are you?” Matthews asked, kneeling and looking at Julie’s face.

Randolph pulled a flashlight out of his pocket. A blood soaked bed sat near the attic window. He cringed as he walked through the crimson rain to look in the nightstand by the bed. Inside was a fantasy novel he had been thinking about reading, a few trinkets, and a journal. “No sense in opening it here.”

On the landing, Randolph flipped through the journal. Every page a new crease on his forehead and deepening resolve to retire.

Matthews peered over his shoulder and wrinkled his nose at the illustrations, diagrams, and scribbled notes. “What in the hell was she trying to do?”

“Summon me,” a deep, growling voice said from behind them.

Featured Image credit: Khusen Rustamov from Pixabay

The Clock Strikes Eleven

For generations, the great sky clock loomed over the people of Cleargarden, counting down their final days. Few believed it, and even fewer paid any attention to the clock as they lived their daily lives.

A great vibration stirred all from their beds one crisp, fall morning. Inquisitive children ran into the streets, ignoring their mother’s cries to return. Startled husbands eased wary heads past their window shutters to gaze up and down their street. The elderly clung to one another and wept–the countdown had begun.

Meredith pulled out her binoculars and gazed toward the clock. From her perch in the giant oak tree on Cleargarden’s highest hill, she watched as scared townsfolk ran to neighbors and town leaders for an explanation.

“Silly little people,” she muttered, setting the binoculars on the small table next to her, “they knew this day was coming.” She reached into a cubby behind her and pulled out a hand-stitched leather journal and opened it to the first page. “The countdown began with you, Thomas. I pray it doesn’t end with me.”

Beneath ten ancestral signatures, Meredith glanced at her watch, wrote the time and date. With one last glance through the binoculars at the clock, she added, “Eleventh toll sounded 19 October 3186.”

Chaos reigned for many weeks, but life slowly returned to normal. The clock returned to its life in the shadows of long-forgotten memories and promises. Only one remained vigilant–out of duty, out of love, out of fear.

Wrapped beneath a wool cloak, sipping tea, Meredith sat and watched, and waited. Light jingling from her holiday display startled her. Nothing stirred as she waited on bated breath for the nightmare to either begin or end for good.

Tolling bells echoed through the midnight fog. Meredith sighed and frowned. “I should be happy,”–she reached for the journal and opened it, staring into the dark toward the sky clock–“but how can I be. I pray it is quick for them.”

The first strike of the clock rattled shutters and signs.

Meredith turned to the last page in her journal and recorded the event.

Strike two struck with such force that old, unkept buildings collapsed.

With a trembling hand, Meredith reached for her binoculars to inspect the damage and record it.

Screams of terror and shock sang louder than the third strike of the clock and brought Meredith to tears.

“So much time, they had. Why they chose this, I…” Her voice faltered as she counted the seconds before the fourth strike.

When the clock struck twelve, and there was nothing left of Cleargarden or the people who had once lived their lives in blissful ignorance, Meredith made her final entry in to the journal of life and returned to her home. A watcher was no longer required on Earth.