Corporate Friends

Corporate Friends is the newest novella by Thadd Presley. Available for Kindle.

It’s not a story for the young ones. It shows the great length people will go for their love of money. Even friends will stab each other in the back for more.  Sexual perversion, evil, death, hatred, treachery, and greed follow the people who hold money above all else. “Corporate Friends” explores Friendship when it becomes the shield enemies use to hide behind.

https://www.amazon.com/Corporate-Friends-Thadd-Presley-ebook/dp/B07FXSXR88
Sexual perversion, torture, death, kidnapping, and the abuse of friendship is explored in this short novella. It is not intended for children.

When you purchase a copy of “Corporate Friends” you are supporting my dreams and the continuation of free short stories on Fiction Weekly. Thank you for your visit and for reading. Even if you don’t buy the book, I truly appreciate you for being here.

You’d Better Learn

You’d Better Learn

Thadd Presley

“This isn’t how it has to be,” John told the big man holding the bolt cutters.

“I’m tryin’ my best t’ hold everythin’ together, but…” He looked toward his wife. “Just look!!” Sobbing, he slowly lifted his free, undamaged hand and pointed. “Look what I come home to.”

Blood was dripping from his hand and running in streams down his forearm. When he focused on the blood drizzling from his elbow, he felt waves of dizziness flow from his head to his mid-section. “She’s here sucking up the profits while I’m out working.”

“So, that’s where your money’s goin’. Big Daddy wanted me to find out what’s going on with you.”

The giant man, held the mouth of the bolt cutters out waiting for another finger — John’s ring finger was next in line — and focused his attention on the woman huddled in the corner of a dirty sofa crying. “That true? You stealin’ Big Daddy’s dope?” He waited for a response; patience wasn’t his way. “Hey, you hear me? Look at me! You smokin’ up your man’s money and making him late on his payments?” His voice demanded an answer.

She started to say something, but her voice failed.

“Tell me somethin’, John, seriously?” the the big man asked, “what should I do? You want me to take another of your fingers or do I take one of hers? Big Daddy wants two fingers. Today!”

“Just tell him…” Large tears fell from John’s eyes. “I man, ask him to give me more time. I’ll have his money. Just…”

“I’m telling you, your time’s up. He’s using you to send a message to everyone else. After this he’s finished with you.”

These words meant more to John than losing his fingers. He couldn’t survive if he didn’t work for Big Daddy. “Come on, man. Just take the other finger, but don’t cut me off.”

When the executioner cut the ring finger from the hand, the bone popped loudly as it broke. The little finger didn’t do that. It just kind of crushed up and squished off. It hurt, but not like the ring finger. When John screamed, his wife joined him with a short yelp.

Lying in a pool of blood were John’s two fingers. As blood dripped on them, adding to the already significant pool, the ring finger twitched and almost rolled over. John thought it was trying to crawl away, then he realized his wedding ring was still on the finger.

Why hadn’t he thought of that?

“O.K. My job’s done here, John. I didn’t enjoy it, you know that.” He let out a long breath. “I’ve always liked you, we go back, so be sure to have the money by Friday. I don’t want to have to…” He looked around the room, which silently assured him he would be back on Friday. There was no way would he have the money.

“What? What’s on Friday?”

“I got to get that money, brother. Seriously.”

John looked up from his dismembered fingers and spoke, his voice barely a squeak. “You mean, I still have to pay? Even after…”

The big man shook his head. “Don’t tell me you don’t know why I came here today. After all this, you going to sit there bleeding and tell me you don’t owe Big Daddy? Look here, this is just a warning for what’s coming next. Don’t you think it might be in your best interest to pay him?”

“But my fingers? God!”

“I asked you. I gave you a choice. You’ve always had a choice.”

“But, I really have to pay Big Daddy all the money?”

“If you don’t, I’ll have to shoot you. Or maybe you’d rather it be your wife?” He looked over at her. “She’s the problem anyway, right?”

John stared at the floor, not wanting to look at his fingers, but he couldn’t take his eyes off of them. Is this really happening? He wondered if there was a chance of him waking up and everything being alright..

“Am I? Is… this really happening?”

The big man slapped John in the face, not hard, but hard enough to lay him back in the recliner. “Yes, you are and yes this is. Now, stay with me.”

John didn’t know what the man had said, but he answered, “Yeah, right.” A shutter went through his body. “You’re right. Yeah…”

“You’ve got to get him to a hospital.” He told the wife. He eyes were half closed, but she seemed concerned.

“What do I say to them?” She whispered.

“Tell them you got your husband’s fingers got cut off by a big man with bolt cutters because he owed for drugs.”

“Really,” John asked. The world was growing black around the edges. “You think they can help?”

“Woman!” The the executioner said. “You got to get your man to the hospital, now.”

She looked up at him, eyes yellow and dull. “But really? What do I really tell them?”

“Tell them you had to bring him to the hospital because if you didn’t a really big, black man said he was going to kill you.”

Her eyes blinked slowly, showing a want to live. She didn’t have a good life, but it was life. “Really?” She asked.

“Yeah, really.” He pulled his pistol from under his arm. “I’ll kill you if you don’t.”

Slowly, she stood up and started toward her husband. He wasn’t looking around anymore. His head was leaned back, eyes glaring at the ceiling. “I think he died.” A high pitched squeal escaped her throat and then she started crying. “Do…do you think he’s dead?”

“He will be very soon.”

Grief seized her for a moment, but then the big man saw relief flood her face. “I’m going to miss him so much,” she said beginning to cry louder. “He was my high school crush. We got married right after graduation.”

The moment was lost when the executioner spoke. “Big Daddy wants his money, don’t forget why this happened. He doesn’t care who pays it, as long as it’s paid. Don’t let this man’s life be a sacrifice for nothing. I’m coming back on Friday.” He started to get up, but he pulled back when she started to reach out to him. “Don’t touch me. Get back.”

“What! Wait! I can’t get that much —”

“You’ve almost a week.” He stood up. “You can get some of it. Just show some effort.”

“I’ll don’t know how to get twenty thousand—”

“You’d better learn.”

She sat back on the couch after the big man walked out of the small apartmen and silence filled the room.

The End

 

Black Sleep

“The Black Sleep”
by: Thadd Presley

I can only tell this once and would like to keep silent on this account completely; except for the children that might follow my direction and possibly choose a path such as I’ve taken, I would indeed find a way to keep my life’s decisions a secret and work towards erasing all record of myself from the Earth which would turn all the prying eyes from my business forever and a happy man it would make me; to see the end of this thing called fame, I would do all this, you see; except I know it’s impossible to put the smoke back into the pipe, after it’s been enjoyed, and I grow more and more saddened by this knowledge and will forever more be saddened by every young one who looks at my life as something to be desired and at myself as a role model to be followed.

Obviously, not realizing, or perhaps pretending they don’t see, that I rose to these delirious heights and achieved these glamorous proportions by turning against my upbringing and throwing aside the wise words of my faithful fathers and goodly mothers and by disgracing this very special being I was born into; and, believe me, it is with a heavy heart, for I would like to not face this, nor do I want to make mention of it at all, but if I’m ever to have any sense of humanity again, I must admit that by attaining greatness in the sight of others, I forfeited the invisible part of myself, which is the part we all know matters most, and I am afraid of what awaits me on the other side of this life; that is, if there’s anything at all, I wish, with all my being, that I could trade back all that I have for the single thing I once thought didn’t exist.

Death is what I most need it to be; a black sleep, a darker, much deeper sleep than the thin nights I wake from and fall back to each eve. It will be relaxing and filled with sweet dreams if I know the truth and hold it high for all to see. However, the fantasy of life quickly recedes in the light of this truth and the very moment I try to imagine anything more than the blackness my Death needs to be, a cold sweat dowses my brow and the velvet blackness begins to pulsate until a slight crack splits the horizon just enough for my eyes to squint closer and closer until they adjust to the ever so dimness of light that reflect the waves slowly moving below in the inky, limitless sea of pitch.

In the slightly-pulsating lighted horizon line, I see dashes of swooping red devils, all differing sizes, gleefully thrusting pitchforks into men and women. These tortured people cry silently and ball their fists into their eyes and mouths, some pull at their hair and claw the skin from their faces. Each trying someway to ignore the pain brought on by their decisions and actions before falling to the Black Sleep.

I see many small devils attack a thin, pale, naked man and lift him into the air under the power of their muscled wings. A scream fills my head, but his mouth doesn’t move. Alongside a background of sucking and smacking waves, which is how that sea of hot tar sounds to my human ears, I hear a dark chorus of cellos and violins, and a hundred different voices calling out to the souls who still live in the Universe of Free-Will. Joined in a deafening choir, each voice pleads in it’s own words, for those who still have the strength and can, to turn from wickedness and accept the truth by faith alone.

These voices, crying together as a choir pray, and lament, and scream in torment; and for a moment I wonder, perhaps I even ask aloud: Am I the only one who hears them? Am I the only one who knows the truth of this Darkness crawling under a black sky? And, if I am, who will believe me?

Sadness, as I’ve never known it, fills me and I want so much not to be a liar, and a thief, and a braggart, and a lover of Earthly desires; only, so people might believe me when I tell them that the fame and fortune I have attained, nor the great wealth and perfect health I enjoy, compares to the eternal spirit I place in peril with every action and thought, and that beyond the thin veil that separates life from The Black Sleep, Time does not exist.

I know, in that moment; that, everything worth knowing was a single, simple truth, that forgetting everything I’d learned before made me a genius, and a legend, and immortal, and rich, and healthy, and capable of super-human feats yet seen by mankind.

I know when I wake from the sleep, I will give it all away and walk with the lost, be with the homeless, eat with the hungry, drink with the thirsty, and live with the dying. I will do this because the dreams of my Black Sleep depend on it.

A will bring this great message to the world:

Do not feed the hungry, eat with them.
Do not house the homeless, live with them.
Do not give water to the thirsty, drink with them.

I realize everything now.

As soon as the choir stops screaming and lamenting, and praying; when the cellos and violins quiet, and the black, crawling sea of tar stops sucking and churning below; as soon as my eyes adjust to the dim light on the horizon and I wake up from this Black Sleep, I will change my life.

Reverse Image (part 3)

Reverse Image
part 3
by Thadd Presley

What Delilah saw at that moment frightened her. The top half of her mother’s face changed. First, her pupils dilated, but not together. Each one on its own grew to the maximum size and then shrunk back down again. Her nose flared much like a horse’s would in the spring. Delilah stood and stepped away from the table. Her mother had become someone else.

She didn’t know why this was happening, but she thought it might be a stroke. Her mother was still young. Thirty-eight was young for anyone to die.

Clare saw a color of red that she never knew existed. It filled her vision and then doubled over on itself. She saw the walls of her world deepen and drown in the color. It was the color of murder, of hatred and sex and violence. God didn’t create this color to be seen and talked about. I was the last color anyone was ever to see. She knew deep in her heart that she was dying and it was a good thing.

“Mom. God.” Delilah screamed and ran to the breakfast counter where her cell phone laid. “911,” she screamed. “911.”
A woman had answered the emergency line before Clare knew what to say. “What’s your emergency?”

“My mom. My..she’s having a heart attack.”

“OK. Calm down. What’s your address.”

Delilah took a deep breath and answered all the questions.

Finally, there were sirens in the air.

The siren grew louder and closer. Too close for them to be for anyone but herself.

Clare opened her eyes. Red still covered everything and she still certain she would die. No one saw that and lived, she kept telling herself. No one could see that and live.

“Mom. Mom.”

The voice of her daughter was there in the red somewhere and that was somehow the worst part of it all. Why did she have to be involved?

The sirens stopped and doors slammed. The red was growing. It was outside now. Even the sky would be covered in red.
“Ma’am? Can you hear me?”

No, Clare thought. If I hear you then the red will get you.

“Look at her eyes, Cap. What do you think happened?”

“Looks to be a serious case of subconjunctival hemorrhage.”

Delilah screamed. The next thing she saw was the kitchen floor.

“She’s coming around, Cap. You alright sweetheart?”

“My mom. She had a hemorrhage. Her brain.”

The paramedic sat down beside her and smiled. “Let’s sit up.” He helped her. “There now. Your mom is fine. It was scary for her and for you, but that’s all. Nothing serious.”

“What happened?”

“Well, we don’t know why but she became extremely stressed and it busted a blood vessel in her eye. Both of them actually. She’s going to the hospital.”

“She’s OK?”

“Yes. Very OK.”

“I want to go with her.”

“That’s fine. You want to go ahead and stand up?”

Together, they managed to walk to the ambulance.

A moment of panic shot through Delilah’s chest when she saw her mother’s eyes. They were both filled with blood. Her mother looked like a zombie. Quickly, she snapped a picture and smiled.

“I got your good side that time.”

“You’re not funny. I don’t know how you can laugh at me. After what you’ve done. Being pregnant is hard enough on a family, but…”

“Pregnant? Mom!” For a moment, Delilah didn’t think she heard her right. “Mom, I’m not pregnant. Who told you that?”
“Don’t lie to me. You already…”

“I’m not pregnant. You must have hit your head or something when you fell.” She looked at the paramedic who wishing he was invisible. “I’m not, I swear.”

Clare was visibly upset.

“We can settle this once we get to the hospital,” he told them. “There is a planned parenthood clinic there that offers free pregnancy tests. You can go from there. How’s that?”

“O.K.” Delilah quickly assented.

Clare didn’t say anything but nodded her head.

“Let’s get this rig on the road, Cap!”

Slowly, the ambulance made it’s way onto the street and ten minutes later they pulled in at Methodist Medical Center.
An hour later, mother and daughter sat together in the E.R. A negative pregnancy test sat in a paper cup, wrapped in a paper towel.

“But, I don’t understand why you thought I was pregnant in the first place?”

“You said you found out something this morning and I thought you meant…”

“Mom, jeez. I learned something from Youtube that’s all. Really, I should have realized it a long time ago.” She smiled. Her mother’s blood red eyes looked back at her. “Oh, I’m sorry. I love you, mom. Thank you for worrying about me.”

“Well, child, that my job. It’s not this hard most of the time. What can I say? You’re a good kid.”

Ryan was escorted into the room by a nurse who was telling him that everything was going to be fine. “Clare is in no danger,” she said. “She just had a scare and fainted.”

“Yeah, I know. It’s been one heck of a morning for all of us.”

Reverse Image (part 2)

Reverse Image

part 2

by Thadd Presley

 

When Lucas entered the room, the quiet atmosphere stopped him in his tracks before he could say anything. There was a furrow on his dad’s brow he’d not seen before and his mother’s face spelled out volumes of unspoken emotion. He hoped they weren’t talking about his spring semester grades. He brought them up at the end.

Dad spoke up first. “Would you mind explaining exactly what you’re talking about? Your mother and I don’t have all morning to play guessing games. This afternoon we can hash out all the details and decide what we will do.”

“Ryan Butress.” Mother sounded extra-weird to Lucas and for the first time that morning he and his sister looked each other in the eyes. “I’ll not hear more of that. I have all the time she needs and so do you. She will tell us what she wants, when she wants. And we will not decide what she does, she decides what she does. Understand?” When her husband didn’t answer right away, Clare started crying.

Delilah stood in the gaze of three stone serious faces and she didn’t know what to say. Lucas broke the silence before it became hysteria.

“What is going on?”

“I don’t know. I think it’s because I’m not wearing makeup.”

Dad looked up from his bowl of cereal. “Sweetie, I’m not mad and neither is your mother. We just want you to be alright.”

“Well, I’m fine,” Delilah answered. “I just want to think about how I’m going to tell you what I found out. It’s been staring me in the face for so long and for me to just realize it. I mean, it’s stupid that I didn’t see it before. Why didn’t one of you tell me? Did you not know?”

“How could we know?” Her mother asked. “I don’t sleep in your bed, I don’t go out with you when you stay over at Angela’s house.”

“Is that what happened?” Her dad asked.

“That’s not important.” Her mother answered. “What’s important is what happens now.”

“O.K. Fine.” He stood from the table. His left hand shook and that was a bad sign. It meant he was really pissed. Delilah didn’t understand why her mom was so angry. “I’m going to work before I get in over my head and say something I’ll regret. I love you all and I’ll be home by four if anyone wants to fill me in then.”

As soon as the Mercedes backed out of the driveway, Lucas took this chance to jump ship. “I’m going to the gym and then job hunting. Bye.”

His mother crossed the kitchen and hugged him. Then, she turned and took an apple from the basket. “Eat this on your way. You’ll need energy to workout.”

“Thanks, mom.”

After the kitchen cleared of the menfolk, the women of the house stood quietly. They stood at the sink and watched Lucas jog down the sidewalk until he was out of view, then they looked at each other.

“Why are you looking at me that way, mom? God, why is everyone is so weird this morning.”

“I’m just worried about you. We are worried. Your dad and I.”

“Mom. It’s not a big deal. Here, listen. I’ll try to explain.”

“No. I want you to listen. That’s all I want you to do right now.” She pointed to the kitchen table. “Sit down so we can talk.”

“Mom!!”

“Don’t you yell at me.” She said it quietly, but it was a command that Delilah knew to obey. She sat and waited for her mother to speak. “Now I only have one question and I want the truth. Who’s the father?”

“What?”

“Just answer the question. Who’s the…”

“I don’t know. Dad, I guess. Who else?”

The words her daughter spoke didn’t make sense to her. They had meant something, but they quickly turned into something else before they reached her ears. Something like red worms burrowing through the dirt. Worms that ate the all the bad words once they left the mouth and spoiled in the open air.

Reverse Image

Delilah looked at her face reflecting in the bathroom mirror. She had just learned on Youtube that the image she saw reflecting back at her was not the same as it appeared to people on the street. The reflection was a mirror image. Exactly opposite of what everyone else saw.

She wished she could see what other saw, how she looked from the vantage point of others. How had she gone so long applying make-up backward to her face, primping and teasing her hair backward, smiling approvingly at a look that was completely opposite of what she had always thought it was?

There’s no wonder why she never turned any heads throughout middle school and during freshman year. But, now things were going to be different. Delilah was certain to see what everyone else was seeing.

“Dee, hurry.”

It was her older brother, Lucas, standing outside the bathroom door, probably doing the pee dance.

“Dee, please.”

“Go downstairs. Use dad’s.”

“He’s asleep. He’ll go ballistic if …”

The bathroom door flew open. “Fine. Whatever. Just stop talking to me.”

Lucas stared in disbelief. “What have you been doing all this time? I’ve been waiting patiently, gritting my teeth, because I know …”

“You don’t know anything, Luke. Just like always.”

He pushed past her and closed the door, not sure what he said wrong; without time to think, he could figure it out later if she was in a better mood.

Downstairs, Delilah’s mother, who everyone in the world called Clare, greeted her daughter with all smiles. “You’re gorgeous, do you know that?”

“Mom.” She glanced at Ryan, her dad. “Morning, dad.”

“You’re mom’s right, you know?”

“Yeah. Yeah. I’m not wearing makeup.”

“And I think that’s a good thing because makeup should be saved for special occasions.” Clare continued while buttering toast. “It shouldn’t be for everyday use. It’s really not good for your face over years and years of use.”

“Yep. Clogs your pores.”

“Well, that’s not why I’m not wearing it. It’s more complicated than that. I just found out something huge. It changes everything. Last night actually.”

“Like what?” Mom questioned.

“I don‘t know. Well, I don‘t know. I’m not really sure how to tell you. It’s hard to explain.”

“Whatever it is we we’ll understand.”

“Well, I should have realized it before because we were talking about it before school was out. At least last month ago or two at the most. I should have known.”

This brought the attention of both parents.

Continue on Part 2

Our Walk (fragment 3)

Our Walk:
Fragment 3

by Thadd Presley

I can’t help having this confidence, for it is my belief, although I have walked exactly the path that the Devil drew out for sinners and fell for his traps at every turn, my life is in the hands of God now; and, if it is His decision to feed me to the fires of this place and allow my body to lie here dead, along with my brothers, I still could not back down; for Jesus had to walk this same path, alone and tempted of the same and more, yet He did not back down; for my sake, He gave His life and all of His blood, so that I might make my own decisions and decide to do right or wrong, while knowing that Christ’s blood covers my sins and makes my evilest acts unknown to all, even God; so I am empowered to uphold good, to stand in the face of evil no matter, the form or fierceness of my enemy: the height or the breadth of sin, nor the strength of the temptation that shall come, neither even the pleasures that most sins are promised to bring, I will not back down from this fight or turn back into that blackness that I once called my life.

Our Walk “fragment one”

Our Walk

Fragment One:
The Deepest Stairway

by Thadd Presley

And into hell we went, as close together as our bodies could afford; halfway falling, halfway crawling, barely clinging to the edges, struggling to keep our footing on the narrow edge jutting from the wall, moving slowly and mindfully; for the steps, which led down steeply, would eventually come to a pit; and, if I might add right here, for it must be pointed out in the beginning, the steps were growing steeper as we got deeper and farther from the surface and, being steps like which I had never seen, I must say they were becoming like glass in both color and texture possibly caused by the heat rising from the pit we knew laid below us somewhere in the darkness. The wall itself was of a crumbly nature, a brimstone. I feared that we might, at any minute, find ourselves in the presence of the Devil himself…

 

Did You Lock The Door?

Where do stories come from?

(there’s a story below, but first)

Where do stories come from? Where does the voice of each character come from? Where do they intend to lead us? Is this gift/curse of writing a manifestation of split personalities, fear, or just an over active imagination? Could it be a deeper understanding of humanity trying to make it’s way to the surface and into the world.

Of course, it could be all of these things and none of them. I know I often hear a dialog to begin each story, then I begin to see them living their lives. Mostly mundane lives, but it so clear I can write it down.

It’s not always something I want others to read. For many reasons, the story is just not for them. Many of my stories wouldn’t be fully understood by someone who doesn’t know me. They would think I was unstable.

Writing is a way I can release the mounting dialog welling up inside of me. There’s a torrent of voices from regular people living their regular lives in regular places making connections in my head. Murder is never the point, even in a murder mystery, and neither is the mystery. It all begins with a voice, a person asking a question about the life they are suddenly living. Something as simple as this:

“Did You Lock The Door”

1200 words

“Steve, did you lock the door before you came to bed?” She asked him every night if he locked it.

“Yes, Becca.” He was tired. The day had been long. Shopping and wrapping gifts had worn him out.

“Did you double check it?”

“I did.”

This was normal nightly procedure. She would remind him about the door a few times before bed, then ask a few times after getting in bed, never forgetting to add:  “you know, someone could just walk in off the street and do anything they wanted to us and we’d be laying dead to the world.”

The memory of her warnings rang loudly in his head. Steve had heard Rebeca go through her script nearly fifty times since they moved from Avalon Avenue to Mill Street and thousands of times before that. He’d heard it so many times that he never forgot to check the door. Especially since moving.

He had begun automatically locking the front door even when coming in from checking the mail.  And, by God, he knew he locked it before going to bed last night. There was no mistake. He remembered distinctly the door locking in his hand because even before removing his boots, he reached back and turned it. It was only a flick of the wrist.

He even rechecked it after his shower before going to the bedroom where Rebeca was already asleep. And then came the ritual. While getting comfortable next and snuggling close to her, soaking in her warmth, she stirred a little and asked, “Did you lock the door?”

“Yes, Becca, the door is locked. Twice checked.”

“OK. Thanks, Love you.” She pulled his arm around her and they settled into their new comfortable bed.

Everything in their house was new. At most, some of it was a month old, because they’d bought it in preparation for the move.

Suddenly, right before drifting off, the door came to Steve’s mind again and he smiled to himself. More and more, he noticed his wife’s OCD beginning to affect him. He tried to push it out of his mind, but since he needed a drink of water and was forced to leave the warmth of the bed anyway, he decided it wouldn’t hurt to check. She would probably ask when he got back in bed.

On his walk through the living room, he saw from the hallway by the blinking of the Christmas tree lights that the door was locked. But, to be sure, he crossed the living room rechecked the door.

On the way back down the hallway with a glass of water, he looked in on his son. Even at five years old, Steve knew the boy was going to have a snoring problem. It wasn’t loud yet, but it was one of his families traits. He stood in the boy’s doorway and made a mental note to see the doctor. It might lead to a discussion about surgery.

It was all so clear. There was no mistake. The door was locked. Son was fine. Wife was sleeping when he returned. But, none of that mattered now. It was only memories. From the warmth of his wife to the sound of young Max snoring, nothing but very detailed memories.

It was six in the morning when he walked back through his house. He woke because he felt the wetness and thought he peed the bed. He woke already embarrassed, but it became worse, even more embarrassing because his pee was sticky. Maybe he had one of those wet dreams he’d always heard about.

When he flipped on the bedside light, he got ready for his wife’s laughter and knew he wouldn’t live it down quickly. She would tease him about it and ask about the girl he had been dreaming of. But, there was no laughter, no questions. The dream had not been wet. The bed was wet with blood.

There was absolutely nothing he could do that would change the terrible facts. It was too late. Walking through the house, he replayed every move he made in his mind, but it didn’t help him understand what happened. Nothing would bring his wife and son back. Rebecca’s worst fears had come true. Someone had walked in off the street and done something to them while they were dead to the world.

Rebeca was dead in his bed, stabbed just inches from where he slept and his son had bruises around his neck where someone had strangled his weak little body until it moved no more.

“Je-sus,” he yelled in two penetrating syllables. She knew all along that this was going to happen. She had some kind of premonition a long time ago and knew it. “I’m sorry Becca!” He screamed it. “I’m so sorry.”

But, nothing would change anything now.  This was a concrete and unforgiving world. If life had suddenly become a game, he wouldn’t restart.  He wouldn’t want infinite lives. He would just turn the game off. He was tired of playing it.

It was too much to take, too much to describe, and no way anyone would understand if he tried. Christmas mornings weren’t supposed to start this way.  This week, this move, and the new year was meant to bring a brighter vision of the future.  Everyone had been fill with excitement, but now everyone was gone and he was faced with a nightmare. He was alone in a world where he no longer wanted to live. Steve knew he couldn’t go on. He wasn’t going to go on, not like this.

It was the end for him.

He didn’t own a gun. He didn’t have enough of the right pills to kill himself. There was no poisons he could drink that would definitely do the job quick and good. There was only a forgotten box of razors in the medicine cabinet, left by the family who lived here before them. He had seen them probably a hundred times over the last month and never threw them out. Neither had Rebeca.

That family had troubles as well, he’d heard. They were bullied into moving away. He didn’t know all the particulars, but nasty rumors were all over the neighborhood and Rebeca had heard more than was good for her.

Yes, the razors were still there. He took one out and removed it from it’s brown paper sheaf. It was shiny and sharp.  He pushed it into his skin right above his wrist and in one quick motion jerked it toward his elbow. The pain was non-existent. He wouldn’t have cared anyway.

The second wrist was harder to cut because seeing his blood made his fingers unsteady, but he managed to put a deep gash halfway from his wrist halfway to his elbow. Pain had began to pulse in his right hand. Then he felt the first wave of panic hit him. The blood flowed faster as his heart sped up.

He felt dizzy immediately, but it was just the thought of dying that scared him. It was only a mild fear compared to living without his wife and child.

He looked at the bathroom floor and was surprised at how much red had pooled under his feet. Dark red footprints tracked his steps back and forth in front of the sink. The mess would be terrible he thought and laughed a little. The sound spooked him and the world seemed brighter than it should, as if a spotlight was directed everywhere he looked.

He walked to the tub and almost slipped getting in. He turned the hot tap on full blast.  Then, reached out and turned on the cold tap. The temperature was just right when the phone rang.

He had no need to answer it and he didn’t care who was calling.

Slowly, he placed his wrist under the  faucet and watched the bath water turn from pink to red.

On the third ring the automated message answered in Rebeca’s voice. “You’ve reached the Mallory family.” Steve’s chest hitched up and he started crying. He would never hear her voice again. “We’re not home at the moment. Leave a message and we’ll get back to you ASAP. Have a blessed day.”

“Steve, Rebeca,” an excited voice all but yelled. “Pick up will ya?” It was the landlady’s northern accent. “OK, look, I just remembered that I forgot to change the locks before you moved in.”

There was a moment of quiet. “I’m coming over directly and do it. I’m sorry, but I can’t put it off. It’s very important we do it today.” There was a pause. “I’ve received word that Harold was seen in your neighborhood. He’s the son of the family who used lived in your home. He could be dangerous, so call me back. I’m on my way to your house to meet the locksmith right now.”

Steve did not hear the entire message. A warm darkness came over him. As he passed out, he wondered if he locked the door. Rebeca would surely ask him first thing.

The End

So where do stories come from? It is our own fears trying to warn us or is it just random thoughts and we string them into stories assigning voices and sentences and places in an attempt to make sense of them?

I don’t know.

Train Ride

Train Ride

by Thadd Presley

 

I met her on a train between Sussex and Hamby Abbey and
immediately had a connection with her. Even before she sat down, I was hoping she would speak to me. I was surprised that she chose my cabin to enter to begin with and it seemed my day was looking up already.

Train rides were always awkward for me. Meeting people and
having them ask you questions was the thing I hated worst than anything. I am shy and it’s always been hard for me to talk to girls. Especially, girls for whom I feel a connection. But, somehow, I knew she was different. I felt I could talk to her and I wanted her to talk to me.

“Hey, pretend you’re my boyfriend.” She said.

“Huh?”

“Pretend you are my boyfriend,” she said. Then, without a second
passing, she leaned over and kissed my mouth. It was a hot kiss that
made my blood boil. There was a bit of spit involved and it made me
tingle fro head to toe. My body was vibrating from the touch of her lips.

I was glad I didn’t have to answer her request, because I would have
messed it up. I couldn’t believe I had said , “Huh.”

While she kissed me someone opened the door and seen us.
While the kiss lasted, the door stayed open, then she broke the kiss with a pop and a small string of saliva bridged our lips. Faintly from
somewhere, somewhere far away, I heard the door close. “That was a close one,” she said. “Man, that guy has followed me four mornings in a row.”

To my disbelief, I almost asked “huh” again, barely
managing to stop myself. My face was still vibrating from the touch of her lip. I could actually feel her kiss on my lips.

“You saved me.” She said and smiled. “That guy was stalking
me.”

“No problem.” I said, trying to sound cool. “Do you want if I tell
him to leave you alone?”

“No,” she waved him off, “he got the message. He was only bothering
me because he thought I was an easy target. If He’ll leave me alone now. And if he doesn’t I have you.”

The words made me feel more alive than I knew possible. I was ultra-alive and we were connected. We were truly one with each her. Who have I ever kissed or felt this way with?

No one. I had never been so comfortable with anyone this
fast.

Who had ever made me feel this way?

No one, that’s who.

“I hope I didn’t scare you off with that kiss,” she said. “It was
all wrong. That wasn’t a good first kiss. I didn’t get to prepare.”

I smiled. “Are you prepared now?”
“Yeah,” I said. “This time, I think I am.” She leaned in and I got ready
for the greatest kiss of my life. A kiss with my soul-mate. This was really it, I thought. The special someone who I have a real connection.

I couldn’t believe my luck. She leaned in and my lips began to go numb….
BEEP — BEEP — BEEP — BEEP — BEEP — BEEP

I was suddenly awake, sweating, and lying in a steaming mess of
blankets and sheet. I suddenly knew where I was and I knew what had happened, but I tried to push it away. I tried to tell myself that she was real. But, there was no use, deep inside I knew that it was only a dream.
There was no girl, there was no kiss, nothing. And now, I
couldn’t even see her face.

Damn dreams!! Damn my dreams…

Damn!!

I rolled to the side of the bed and mentally prepared myself to
go to work. One thing was certain. I would definitely take the train into work today.