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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…

 

 

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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