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Latest Stories

August 09, 2020
General Stories Schubert

The Last Shift

Danny switched on the kitchen light and peered at the clock on the wall above the cooker. It was 5.10am, the middle of Winter and two hours before the central heating came on. Butch opened one bloodshot eye, gave Danny a token wag, sighed and settled down…
August 09, 2020
Flash Fiction Andrei Sisman

Drop, Drop,Drop

Balance, in all things, the monk thought, his face calm and serene, as pea-sized drops of rain pounded the surface of his scalp like a drum. The world around him buzzed with static, yet his mind was like a lake on a summer day. He assumed the lotus position,…
August 09, 2020
Crime Stories Leroy B. Vaughn

Where'd Shirley Go?

He thought he was going to throw up as he staggered to his feet and headed towards the bathroom. Rasmussen splashed water on his face and drank water by cupping his hands and drinking from the faucet. He went back to his bedroom and looked around for Shirley,…
August 09, 2020
General Stories Stephen Faulkner

How It Was

I have often been asked how it was, how it came to be that I did what I did in the way that I did it. Often I will tell whoever has asked such a question that I have been driving for over thirty years and I have always been a very good and conscientious…
July 26, 2020
General Stories Lucy Maybelle

A Reputable Reptile Establishment

“When it feels like your world is ending, maybe it’s just beginning.” This I read in some tone-deaf article about the current state of the world; the equivalent of “keep your chin up!” for the modern depressive. And I wish I could believe it. Truly, I do. I…
July 26, 2020
Mystery Stories John Brady

Winter's Walk

White ribbons in a white landscape. The county doesn’t sand the roads except where they meet and that doesn’t happen much, so the snow gets packed down hard and stays. It won’t melt till spring. Climate change fucks up the weather lots of places but not up…
July 26, 2020
Fantasy Stories Michael Thirlaway

Waveless Ocean

The sailless ship glided smoothly across the waveless ocean. Captain Blake Osric looked over at the crew, each performing their mundane tasks, confused at how the ship was moving without wind. The vast smooth sea stretched in all directions, endless. It…
July 25, 2020
Flash Fiction C Alexis

For Hire

I was sitting, sipping my coffee, swiping my iPhone, when my eyes focused on the cork bulletin board immediately to my right. At the top, in black upper case letters were the words, “For Hire.” One particular card drew me to its interesting font, which looked…
July 25, 2020
Fantasy Stories Charles West

A New Prometheus

“Sit here, Mary, there is someone I want you to meet,” Jane said. “Who?” “You will see. It is someone famous. You will be very impressed.” Mary deferred to her step sister and sat down. There was another vacant chair with a small round table between them.…
July 25, 2020
Romance Stories Patric Quinn

Life on West 4th Street

"Hey, good evening, Frank. How’s the Farrell column going." "Going pretty good today, Pipes. Just finished. I know it’s late, but I just felt like coming out for awhile. Say hello if you were working." "Coming down here, 4th Street?" Pipes’ smile showed he…
July 25, 2020
Flash Fiction Walt Giersbach

The Lawyer Saw Green Until He met Red

Our Tullahoma Tigers weren’t all that hot as a football team. Or even lukewarm, but it was the last thing holding our dying town together now that the mill is closing. However, the real reason all the townspeople close up their shops and houses and come out…
July 19, 2020
Fantasy Stories Katya Kastro

The Year The Virus Came [Editor's Choice]

Lily was annoyed and upset. Her mom switched her virtual reality helmet into school mode and while Lily’s friends were chilling on some Australian or Brazilian beach, she was locked in her room. Lily’s mom won’t unblock the helmet until the homework is done.…

 

 

I was inclined to turn to the woman sitting beside me and ask, “Do you see me?” I really wanted to, but if she could I figured it would creep her out; and if she couldn’t, well, that would mean something worse. I had been sitting there for two hours -- watching people come, sit and wait their turn to be called into the back room, and then they were gone; I had been sitting for two hours and no one had spoken to me or even made eye contact with me. So I couldn’t help but think maybe I had died and was now just a spirit trapped in this waiting room.

In the natural, it was a hospital waiting room, and everyone in it except me was waiting to have an x-ray; but if I had crossed over into the ethereal plane, as I feared, then I was waiting for … how would I know?! All I knew was what I saw. There was no smiling. Only the glum stare of those waiting to be taken into another room and – I don’t know, baked like a potato. There is no joy in a waiting room; no laughter; why would there be? There is nothing but anxiety in this place. It is, at best, a matter of pain, and, at worst, a matter of life facing death that brings all here.

There was no comfort to be had in this room. A television mounted on the wall blared so loudly that my ears hurt, which meant my head hurt. I couldn’t think. No matter how gently I try to place my head on the wall to rest, it bounced and jarred me. There is no mercy for me, I realized.

A few people sat with cell phones, speaking so annoyingly loudly to be heard over the television that they further irritated me as I was forced to listen to conversations I don’t want to hear; maybe this is purgatory, I thought.

Many that came in the room were old, and some were rolled in wheelchairs by assistants who looked equally grim. One woman’s eyes flickered toward me but showed no recognition and her face no acknowledgement. If she could indeed see me she didn’t let me know. Then she placed her head back in her hand and went back to her unhappy stare; someone else walked in and registered at the front desk, then went to a seat, joining the mournful crowd. And when one left, he, or she, never returned. Did they go to the supermarket and return to their life? Did they go home? Did they go where baked potatoes go once they have been radiated? Or did they leave this waiting room and go to some otherworldly place? I couldn’t help but think I would find out. I stood and stretched, but it offered limited comfort. I sit back down and the pain in my legs and back soon returned.

It was a sterile room with a cluster of cushioned but not particularly comfortable chairs in the middle of the floor and five sets of coupled chairs around the wall. There were two tables at opposite ends of the room with old magazines that no one would read unless they had no other choice. And even if you wanted to read, you couldn’t concentrate over the sound of the television or callers yelling to be heard. Yes, this was something more than purgatory, I thought.

“Mrs. Brown,” someone called from the doorway. A different someone would do that from time to time. I could see that was how they thinned the herd. The eyes that had been looking at me but never acknowledged me rose and took her crackly face and old, stooped body with them out the door.

“I thought you had forgotten about me,” she said as she followed the bearer of the voice. No, I thought, that would be me that has been forgotten; I’ve been lost, abandoned. This was most certainly more than purgatory; this has to be …

A man walked by the door and glanced in. We made eye contact and he nodded at me. At least, I think he was nodding at me. I nod back, but he has already passed.

THE END

Jamie C. Ruff is a former reporter, native of Greensboro, NC, and author of three e-books, the western “Colby Black: from Slave to Cowboy,” the contemporary tale of camaraderie and personal conflict “Reinventing the Uninvented Me,” and the coming of age story “The Peculiar Friendship.” All are available for download at Amazon.com.

 

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