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Latest Stories

July 10, 2019
Romance Stories John L.Yelavich

Saccharine Smiles and Sandpaper Personalities

What is the most powerful force in the universe? Is it atomic fusion, military might, volcanoes, tsunamis or any other natural disaster? No, they are not. None of them can create havoc and paranoia in man any more than love can. Yes, love is the force that is…
July 10, 2019
Crime Stories J.B.Stevens

A Good Man

Jimmy hated feeling the delicate orbital bones splinter, but he didn’t have a choice. He needed to be free. It was unfortunate. Just the wrong place, wrong time. If he was out he could send money to Sarah. That’s what all this was all about, helping his…
July 10, 2019
Fantasy Stories Roger Ley

Turing Test

Mr Riley liked to start his day in the library. It was a short walk from his house and conveniently situated at the top of the main street in the Suffolk market town that he and his wife had retired to. When they’d first arrived, he’d joined the local writing…
July 10, 2019
Romance Stories Patric Quinn

Where or When

The front doorbell sounded its gentle Westminster Chimes and the thumping on the door started before Hazel even put her pen down on the papers she was working on intently. More curious than annoyed, she stopped writing, shrugged and started for the door.…
July 10, 2019
Flash Fiction Sheila Ash

Working Christmas Again

I always draw the short straw to a chorus of ‘Bad luck’. A reiteration of last year and the year before, and the year before that. Throughout the day, my ‘C’est la vie’ chimes on a constant playback loop. My expressionist shrugs repeat themselves as a…
March 18, 2019
Mystery Stories JD Plummer

Pseudonyms

“Gelb wants you to call him.” I looked at Frankie, opened my mouth, began to slowly shake my head. My reply delayed by the image of Gelb, monocle in eye, brow raised, lips tight, grimacing. I cringed at the thought. “I ain’t calling that prick,” I finally…
March 18, 2019
Fantasy Stories Lucia Balbuena

A Different Story

Her breathing was deep and steady when she run through the dense forest holding her grandmother’s kitchen knife in her hand. Her red cape was torn up, also her legs, hands and her face were cut by the tree brunches. Stop you are the victim, said the forest…
March 17, 2019
Crime Stories Wally Smith

Coda

Luigi Andante’s small apartment sat on the fourth floor of a block in the West Bronx at the corner of 18th and Davidson. It was adequate as a living space, but Luigi craved more than this. “A penthouse overlooking Central Park would suit me just fine”, he had…
March 17, 2019
Crime Stories Walter Giersbach

Fifty Ways to Leave Your Loser

Lorraine Vanderzanden had the thankless task being Lindstrom’s police chief. Her husband didn’t appreciate the risks she took. Her brother didn’t thank her for using her degree for something useful instead of helping on the family farm. Heck, she thought,…
March 17, 2019
Mystery Stories Jenny Webster

"Communicate with me, please."

I have been blind for so long, I didn’t even attempt to imagine what it would be like if I could see. I don’t know any different, all I know is darkness, and I base everything that I can experience mostly through sound. You see, I can’t walk either. I’m not…
March 16, 2019
Flash Fiction Michael Fredrick

Secondhand Santa

The late model sedan sputtered, coughed and dutifully careened forward on a cold December evening. Fred hit the gas pedal & ruminated as he always did, wondering again why life had dealt him this hand? Christmas Eve, foraging for returnable bottles to make…
March 16, 2019
General Stories Darrell Case

Trig's Smokin' Wheels

There were a lot of things Trig Nelson could do, many he wanted to do, and more things he couldn’t do. Trig couldn’t run, he’d never climb stairs or hills or mountains. He couldn’t play football or basketball. Being stuck in a wheelchair that would always be…

 

 

We went in because we like visiting thrift stores; so we were a little disappointed once we were inside.

It looked more like a cross between a pawn shop and a curio store; on the wall shelves were what looked like toys. They were actually barely noticeable.

I wasn’t the only patron. There were five or six others. I don’t know if they had walked in right before me or had been there for a while. They seemed as confused or unimpressed as I was.

In the middle of the floor was a roped-off oblong-shaped block. It was clay or stone. I didn’t care and didn’t look close enough to know. It was too big to lift, but with enough effort could probably be rolled. Even this wasn’t really significant. The dark-colored ropes, only about three-feet high and attached to black post that were no more than a foot higher, weren’t necessary. We walked around it without paying it any attention. Everyone did.

There was a counter at the back of the store. There was an old man who looked like a foreigner behind it when I first walked in, but he disappeared into another room at some point. I don’t know when. Other than to nod a greeting, I had paid him no attention.

On the end of the counter was a box with a crank. It reminded me of a jack-in-the box. I turned it -- slowly, at first, and it clicked in a way that made me think of a child’s toy.

Then a little faster, and the clicking was replaced with a buzz. As I turned, something happened to the rock – it moved; it ululated. I was watching it, and the faster I turned, the faster it moved.

It took forms. First, they were inanimate objects. A chair; I turned the crank faster and structures of wood, stone, metal; a model of a skyscraper rose.

It never occurred to me to stop. I should have, but I wanted to see what next.

When I turned counterclockwise, whatever there was dissolved and a smaller image developed.

I went back to clockwise; even faster and the buzz became angry, and now it turned into animated objects – a suit of armor with a man in it; a man in a suit.

Faster and faster until the crank whined. A woman. She was light brown, slender built with long hair; she was exotic and from a different time, if not place. And she moved. She ran around the room with what looked like a flint knife. She didn’t seem like she wanted to stab anyone, but jabbed at everyone with the knife – seemingly more like she wanted to just touch than harm. Everyone kowtowed and scampered away from her. She rushed behind the counter. I told myself I wouldn’t, but I did the same when she came toward me. I backed away. Innately, I feared her touch. We all did. We feared she might take something from us (maybe our soul), or turn us into what she had been – or was.

The old man returned from some backroom and now, and she just stood and stared at me; only me.

He pushed us out of the store, though he tried to disguise it as shooing.

Behind him was his wife, just as foreign looking and probably from the same place, watching it all with a contended grin on her face.

Outside, I looked at the now dark storefront. The lights had been turned out that fast. Had I made it up? Had we all? That was it -- maybe it was a mass hallucination. There was no one left to ask questions or discuss it with. They had all scurried away. If there was anything else to be seen they didn’t want it to be by them.

I joined the others in disappearing into the shadows of evening.

It all frightened me. She haunted me. I wanted to see her again. I wanted to understand what I had seen and know who she was. Had I created her? Had I summoned her? Was he mine? A part of me?

Or was it all just a strange, weird dream?

I went back a few days later. Another man was there and the crap was still on the walls, but the block was gone from the center of the floor; he told me the owners were gone on vacation. It sounded like the word vacation was in air quotes. They were gone, and they weren’t coming back.

I walked to a nearby store. I didn’t want to say too much. I didn’t want to appear mentally ill. I was the only one in the store at the time, but I still didn’t want to be thought crazy. I asked them if they knew anything about the merchants from that shop. I didn’t want to be too specific, but I knew my real question was understood.

“Knowing his wife, it won’t be around very long,” the woman said from behind her counter. And that was it.

I didn’t know what she met by what she said about the wife. All I could wonder was did that mean she was going to break the box? Or kill her?

Nothing more was said, or would be said about it. She asked me if I wanted to buy something, as if I had just walked in and no other words had been exchanged.

I walked out into a blinding sunlight and into a world that was neither brave nor new, nor the same. It was all strange to me now.

 

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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