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Latest Stories

October 14, 2018
Crime Stories Julie Achilles

The Boy in a Hoodie

I am walking along the road, the road that leads to home and I see him. I do not know him but for some reason I know there is a significance. He is casually dressed and wearing a grey hoodie which is pulled up, yet, I can still see his face. I can see that he…
October 14, 2018
Fantasy Stories M.B.Manteufel

Two Heads are Better than One

He opened the jewelry box with one gloved hand, holding steady a slim flashlight with the other. He cursed under his breath. Empty. Again. Matt Sanders wasn’t used to bad luck. He had become one of the best in his profession because he refused to rely on…
October 14, 2018
General Stories Julie Harris

The Man Who Left His Wife With A Goat

The morning’s warm rain finally drizzled to a wind-blown spray before a strong sun blazed in the cloudless sky. Christine stood motionless at the kitchen sink staring beyond the teardrop stained window to where he stood watching from the summer house.…
October 14, 2018
Mystery Stories Salvatore Difalco

Vertigo

Juan rose to pee in pitch darkness, his eyes fluttering. He found the toilet, but peed all over the unraised seat, splashing his shins and toes. Catching jeweled glints of chrome and glass, his eyes oriented to the darkness. Incomprehensible, his next move—he…
September 09, 2018
Crime Stories Frankie Neptune

It's The End of The World as We Knew It

 Reggie Benangin had always been this way. He couldn’t do anything right. The following is true - Though not even Polish, he couldn’t screw in a light bulb. When growing up in Westfield, New Jersey, his father knew never to ask Reggie to cut the grass. Every…
September 09, 2018
Horror Stories Vidal Martinez

La Llorona

I almost slam my head on the dashboard when the car suddenly stops in the middle of the dirt road. “What are you doing?” He looks behind me. “Right there… those trees,” he says. “Are you serious?” I look out the passenger window, and in the dark distance is…
September 09, 2018
Mystery Stories Roger Ley

Curing Brian

The day started pleasantly enough, we’d met for our regular game of tennis, the old reliables, Chris, Marilyn, Malcolm and me. Then the man in the dirty suit appeared and everything changed. It was summer and the weather was warm, so we’d used the outside…
September 09, 2018
Romance Stories John L. Yelavich

Sunny Souls

I have fond recollections of my high school years roaming the hallways with my best pals and their gals. We all thought that we embodied the right stuff or whatever that mindset was. We were all proud, cocky and cool and never wanted to be labeled pretenders…
September 09, 2018
Science Fiction Stories Majoki

Snarge

What do you think we hit? Can’t say. We went through the critters pretty fast. I’ve never seen anything quite like that flock: multicolored, almost metallic-looking, circling in a protective formation. Very strange. We’ll have to wait until the techs evaluate…
August 21, 2018
Fantasy Stories Roger Ley

Making Babies

Martin Riley unlocked his front door, stepped over the threshold, and stopped dead. Everything was different: furniture, décor, layout, all changed. It didn’t look like his house anymore. A voice behind him said, “Hello Darling, I have some wonderful news.…
August 21, 2018
Science Fiction Stories R.Scott Venegas

How Far Back?

“The test subjects’ mental acuity, such as it is, and physiology are unaffected, the samples it obtained show little out of the ordinary, however it is quite agitated.” “Is it?” “Yes, seems it was spotted and chased.” “Did it do any damage during the…
August 21, 2018
Romance Stories Susan C. Nigra

A Lie is Born

Dec. 12, 2012 was a dreary uninspired winter day, and also the day I returned to relive the beginning of the lie. It was 43 years ago when I first came here at the tender age of 23 in high spirits... high on life, high on being young; and I have returned a…

 

 

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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