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Latest Stories

July 28, 2018
Mystery Stories Roger Ley

The Wheel Fiddle

The melody drifted across the garden as she was picking fruit to make a summer pudding. She put down her basket, wiped the sweat from her forehead and walked around to the front of the cottage. The man stood waiting at her garden gate, he raised his cap. He…
July 28, 2018
Flash Fiction Rekha Viswanathan

Pills and Capsules

I wake up to a crisp, clear and sunny morning. The fresh coffee smell beside my bed tempts me. One long sip of the coffee and my senses kick in! I have a long day ahead. At least that's what the papers at the foot of my bed say. Glancing at the paper I see…
July 28, 2018
Crime Stories Stephen A Murray

Russia,Russia,Russia.

There existed in Russia a small group of intelligence operatives left over from the KGB. They are known as Sputniks. From Wikipedia: "Sputnik was the first artificial Earth satellite. The Soviet Union launched it into an elliptical low Earth orbit on October…
July 28, 2018
General Stories Paul Anobile

A Portrait of Slam Bang City

I was hired to paint the portrait of a billionaire who founded a small city twenty years ago in a ghost town he purchased in Arizona. Danny O’Keefe, professional wrestling promoter and executive, convinced a number of investors to build a fourteen-thousand…
July 28, 2018
Science Fiction Stories Majoki

The Deadest Generation

Sergeant Taylor always checked us thoroughly before sending us in: regulation uniform, backpacks, anti-ballistic helmets, Kevlar vests, and, of course, your gun. You couldn’t go anywhere in this place and be safe without your gun. Sergeant Taylor was strict…
July 28, 2018
General Stories J.B.Stevens

Dead Camel

The improvised explosive popped off to the convoy’s left. The armored black Suburban Neil drove muffled the sound to a dull thud. The blast seemed smaller than normal. “Anyone hurt?” the medic, Luiz, called across the radio. The team members, in four matching…
July 28, 2018
Romance Stories Jerry Hogan

He'll Ask Me To Dance Again

Jay I’m Jay, and I have never been to the My Time Dance Studio before tonight. As I entered, the interior projected a garish 1930s Art Deco motif. Greenish, glow-in-the-dark, semilucent plastic tubing wrapped around the hand railings separating one sitting…
July 28, 2018
General Stories Jim Bartlett

The Comebacker

Cornstalk stretches forward, the look almost as if he’s about to fall headfirst off the mound, saved only by the slapping of his left hand to his knee. He locks eyes with his catcher, then lets his gaze wander down just below his glove for the sign. Uncle…
July 28, 2018
Crime Stories Susan C. Nigra

Never Kill The Author

Oh My God! What’s happening? This has never happened before. I am cornered, trapped, boxed in with no safe way out. There has always been a way out before, miraculous last minute saves. I think back to how I got here and I remember I was assigned this case as…
July 28, 2018
Crime Stories Thomas Schmidt

The Streets of Camden

Saturday night was cold and wet. Mike Joseph walked cautiously down Norris Street on his way to the Whitman Park Field, a large green space inside the depressed neighborhood. Propositioned twice by street walkers, he kept moving while shifting his head from…
July 13, 2018
Mystery Stories Rekha Viswanathan

The Enchanted Woods

The boys are on a trip. A trip into the woods. Accompanied by their family they trudge along a narrow path, a route that had obviously been traced by human footsteps, a trail that had been trodden many a time. They walk cautiously, startled by the snap of a…
July 13, 2018
Flash Fiction Carl Perrin

What Could go Wrong

If you plan every detail carefully, nothing can go wrong. I believed that when I was a teenager. Like the time Billy Long and I decided to make our own beer. Once in a while we used to steal a couple of Billy’s father’s beers, but we were always afraid we…

 

 

Someone said, “Hey, Dave,” and I looked around to see who had called out my name, but no one in the coffee shop seemed interested in me.

That’s when I spotted him. It happens to all of us at some time or other. You see someone who looks familiar and you can’t remember how or when you knew them. But if you’re like me and you have something to hide, the sight of them is distressing.

Normally, I look forward to stopping for a latte on the way into work, but after seeing this guy, “normal” would never have quite the same meaning for me. I’d never seen him there before, but now that I had, I couldn’t get my mind to focus on anything else until I figured out how I knew him. I even forgot about the “first thing” meeting I had with my boss.

Nothing about the man at the counter buying a coffee should have frightened me or made me suspicious of him. He didn’t have the dark threatening looks of a killer in a Film Noir. He was, in fact, wearing a nondescript dark business suit, white shirt, and red tie, very much like the clothes I had on. And yet, I sensed danger in his presence, causing my breath to come in small quick bursts and my muscles to grow tense.

He was either younger than me, or had better genes, because he had considerably more hair and considerably less gray. And while mine aged my appearance, his gave him an air of refinement, the kind coveted by politicians. It occurred to me I might not be able to place him because he’d aged since I’d seen him last, but it didn’t help me with his identity.

The clerk brought him his order quickly and they didn’t put a lid on it, so I knew he’d be staying to drink it. I averted my face just enough to see him but not be seen by him. Then like a deer watching a nearby predator, I eyed him with apprehension as he walked to a table on the far side of the room.

Even though I’d be late for work if I didn’t leave soon, I didn’t dare stand up for fear the movement would draw his attention and expose me to his scrutiny. As minutes ticked by, my breathing became shallower, my heart beat a little faster, and I felt unpleasantly warm.

When I could no longer stand the suspense, I resolved to confront him, to go over there and grill him with questions until I knew why his presence caused me so much anxiety. I boldly slid my chair back to stand up then immediately lost my nerve. I made two more abortive attempts to face him before resigning myself to my cowardice. Wishing I had a newspaper to hide behind, I put a hand up to hide my face.

It occurred to me he might be a celebrity with a dark past, someone I’d seen in a news broadcast, but ever since I’d spotted him I’d been troubled by the feeling he was not only a part of my life now, but that I’d known him when he was younger. While I concentrated on resolving that enigma I spotted movement out of the corner of my eye.

Glancing furtively in his direction I saw him get up to leave. Like a pardoned death-row prisoner, I should have felt relieved because the ordeal would end soon, but I feared I would be in peril until I solved the mystery.

When I saw him start to walk toward me rather than the exit, my stomach flipped over. Like a kid hiding under his covers I looked away and hoped for a miracle.

His question, “Don’t I know you?” not only startled me, it had a disturbingly accusatory tone to it.

Standing just two feet from me, he must have seen my hands shaking, and when I replied, “I don’t think so,” I was sure he could hear my voice falter.

By then I was certain my safety depended on placing him before he placed me, so I willed my mind to locate him among half a lifetime of memories.

While I struggled with that, he pressed his case, declaring, “I’m sure I know you from somewhere.”

Afraid my voice might give away my identity, I just shook my head, and during the awkward silence that followed, Lauren, my clandestine lover, came into the shop. When she spotted me she smiled and headed our way. Focused on threading her way through the crowded room without bumping into someone’s table, she hadn’t noticed the man standing next to me with his back to her.

As soon as I saw Lauren I knew how the guy could be from both the present and the past. It was her smile that did it, a smile I knew well, and the same smile I’d seen in the wedding picture Lauren kept it on her bedside table, the one that always left me feeling guilty. That’s where I’d seen him, in his wedding picture taken years ago when he was much younger.

He obviously knew the sound of his wife’s voice, because he spun around when Lauren said, “Hi, Sweetheart,” to me.

She stopped short when she recognized him, probably assuming from his dark countenance that he knew about our affair. I should have said something clever then, something to suggest that meeting his wife there was just an accident, and I might have done that if another thought hadn’t struck me. What were the chances he couldn’t place me because I’d changed since my wedding picture was taken, the one my wife kept on our bedside table?

Bio: I spent 27 years working as a computer analyst, have done some free-lance technical writing, and have a degree in history. My short story Dead Lucky was published by Short-Story.Me, and Food For Thought was published by perihelionsf.com. Two of my short stories, Both Killer Lesson and Cemetery Dead Ahead, appeared in Darker Times Anthology Volume Two published by darkertimes.co.uk. I have also had five illustrated articles published by Fingerlakes.com.

 

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