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Latest Stories

May 19, 2018
Fantasy Stories Jo Carroll

The Curl and Vampire

She was a pretty thing to be sure, the little girl with the curl. Her cheeks were as red as blood and her skin as smooth as porcelain. And yet there was something odd about her clear blue eyes—something empty and soulless. She sat atop her throne of building…
May 17, 2018
Mystery Stories Nicole Robb

New Frontier

Still groggy from her hibernation chamber, Stacey checked the readings once again on the ship's control panel.She had read them right. "Tom! Something's wrong." "What is it?" Tom emerged from the back where he had been checking on the twelve hundred sleeping…
May 17, 2018
Mystery Stories Laura Ellison

Remedy

The smell of death hung heavy and pungent in the air. Sickness touched the skin and covered it in a dewy glow that in any other situation could have been attractive. Castellan held a scented handkerchief over her nose as she walked through the village to the…
May 17, 2018
Fantasy Stories Dylan Thomas Nichol

Forged in Shadows

Screaming was all that could be heard through the bone chilling halls of the dungeon. This was what the supposedly great nation of Hace really was. An ugly abomination lay underneath the stunning Admor Keep, and Caelin made the long journey through it, his…
May 17, 2018
Mystery Stories Isabel Schwaak

Something Stronger

A thick grey stone wall separated the village of Telly Fenn from the wilderness. A narrow path led the way out of the village and melted into a crossroad, from which a crooked path strayed far into the dark forest. The inhabitants of Telly Fenn were content…
May 17, 2018
Fantasy Stories Jade De-Terville

A Light Bulb Called Tink

“This is more than just a bloody mid life crisis,” Karen said clutching a tattered red book, until her knuckles started going white. She savagely threw the book onto the chequered dining cloth, and ran her hands through her untamed hair. “Oi, mind the…
May 17, 2018
Fantasy Stories April Winters

Area Twenty Four and a Half

I, Jim Roberts, got fired today. I didn’t realize Mr. Kerr, my boss, was standing behind me when I referred to him as Kerr-mitt. He failed to see the humor, and now I have no source of income. Looks like my journalistic aspirations are out the window. I…
May 17, 2018
Fantasy Stories Jeremy Szal

Crimson Snow

16th Day of Regon, Year 455 of the First Dawn I could feel the cold as we climbed higher, the chill reaching into my bones. The wind whispered across the grassland, flapping my black hair over my face. I wanted to lie down. I wanted to sleep. I wanted to…
May 17, 2018
Fantasy Stories B.J.Neblett

Forever

“Segue the next couple of records with a jingle then go into a stop set. I’m gonna get some air.” Hy Lit flashed his agreeable smile, adjusted his trade mark tinted glasses and winked. “You’re a natural, kid.” Then he disappeared out the studio door. The…
May 17, 2018
Fantasy Stories BJ Neblett

Pockets Full Of Wishes

“Don’t put your hands in the pockets!” Jimmy looked at his sister. It was just a winter coat, a used one. It was all his parents could afford. But it was his. He picked it out. Now he stood proudly before the store mirror admiring the blue denim coat with the…
May 17, 2018
Fantasy Stories Laura Ellison

Consumed

Arlia knelt down on a silk cushion in the middle of the room. She took a deep breath and centred herself. Gramps always told her to do this, sometimes he jabbed her in the sides with his walking stick if he thought she rushed meditation. In front of her the…
May 17, 2018
Fantasy Stories Paul Magnan

Scorned

I grasped the rough edges of the tombstone and pulled it from the strands of thick, yellowed grass upon which it lay. I set it in an upright position. The words “Dear Love” were carved along the top of the stone. I had carved those words. For a few seconds…

 

 

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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