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Latest Stories

December 09, 2018
Mystery Stories Wally Smith

Body of Evidence

Crime Scene Tours Ltd. had built their business, some would say, on the basis of appealing to people’s morbid curiosity for grisly acts of murder, and Liz and Colin Stevenson therefore had no qualms at all about conducting tours around the scenes of the most…
December 02, 2018
General Stories John L. Yelavich

Aesthetic Shock

Allie is delicate and gentle, waif-like in her presence. Her luminescent smile frames an image that seems so lighthearted. A sense of reality cannot disguise my enamored, whimsical feelings. I rhapsodize her essence in my affectionate mind excursions. She…
December 02, 2018
Fantasy Stories Vidal Martinez

The Purpose of Life

The front door slowly creaks open just as I reach to touch it with my cold, stiff hand. I stand still, hesitant, wanting to walk away, but finally I peek into the house, and through the darkness of the old Victorian home is a shadow of a flickering light from…
December 02, 2018
Fantasy Stories Pat Tyrer

It's All Relative

Before I get started talking about what I did, and why I did, what I did, I need to explain that Harold was no prize. He retired from John Deere because he couldn’t get along with the guy who worked next to him on the line. Not the supervisor, mind you, but…
December 02, 2018
Crime Stories J.D.Plummer

What Goes Around Comes Around

It was 12:45AM on a Tuesday. The old TV in the corner was playing some idiotic sitcom rerun. The ball game had gone into extra innings, but had basically ended a half hour before. There was a couple sitting at the table in the corner, having wandered in…
December 01, 2018
Crime Stories Nicholas Tomsko

Special Delivery

“BE THERE IN 5 MINUTES”...Tammy hit the SEND button and tossed the cell phone. It made a thud as it bounced off of the passenger seat. She hated the feeling of things in her pockets and never used a purse. Cruising the highway during a mild September…
December 01, 2018
Fantasy Stories Marie Anderson

Epiphany

After the meeting, Leo hurried back to his office and filled his briefcase and pockets with everything that mattered. His company mug brimmed with cold coffee. He poured the coffee over his PC’s keyboard, then threw the mug at a framed portrait mounted on the…
December 01, 2018
Romance Stories James Ross

Bones

‘Park here,’ Leo said, ‘We’re early and I’d like to sit in the sunshine for a while.’ Michael parked the car in one of the empty bays and went to purchase a ticket. When he got back to the car Leo was standing by the door grinning broadly. 'See!' he said.…
December 01, 2018
Mystery Stories Virginia Revel

The Shape I'm In

“Good morning, Mr. McCord.” “Good morning Dr. Porter,” I say, inclining my head slightly in his direction. His answering nod pays tribute to my quiet self-possession. I show him no hostility, but I do not pretend he is my friend. There will be no heartiness…
December 01, 2018
General Stories Jesse McKinnell

Hi, My Name is Mark

The drug store stretched out in front of Mark like a fun house, dizzying in its array of colors and textures and smells. Racks filled with Halloween candy, masks and plastic pumpkins sat in front, requiring shoppers to battle through their compulsions before…
December 01, 2018
General Stories Roger Ley

Harley

“It’s in here,” said Martin as he unlocked the door of the old, dilapidated wooden shed. “My dad lets me use this as a garage.” The shed was sited on the edge of the golf course that his father’s family owned. They went inside. It didn’t smell too bad, and it…
December 01, 2018
Science Fiction Stories Matt King

In Formation

Honking, the geese fly overhead in a giant V as the sky reddens in the late September dawn. Tralley watches them for a moment before continuing to unload the pickup truck outside the transmission tower high on the hill. Rucker fixating on his smartphone in…

 

 

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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