Fiction Friday: Disengagement

The room was a sullen gray with brutal fluorescent light raging down from the high ceiling. Nothing was on the walls except a long mirror on one side of the room. A long black table sat positioned in the room’s center with only two chairs; one on either end. Peter Dominic sat alone, handcuffed with his head in his hands sobbing. As he sulked, trying to remember how the last few hours must have unfolded, a man and a woman entered the room. The woman carried a manila folder. Peter believed this folder contained everything that happened and personal information about him.

“Good evening, Mr. Dominic.” The woman said.

The man who entered the room with her stood behind by the door.

The woman continued.

“My name is Detective Hartley. You know why you’re here so why don’t you tell me what happened.”

“What was her name?” Peter said.

“I’m sorry?”

“The woman I… I killed. What was her name?”

Detective Hartley looked surprised. She looked through the file.

“Her name was Sarah Nicole Morris.”

Peter wiped his eyes.

“Sarah Nicole Morris. Could you tell me about her? What did she do for a living? Did she have a family; children?”

Peter still felt upset about the incident. He was not a killer.

“She was studying at the community college to be a radiologist. She lived in an apartment with her boyfriend, they didn’t have children.”

Peter closed his eyes.

“Please tell the boyfriend I’m sorry.”

Detective Hartley grew impatient.

“If you’re sorry, why did you kill her?”

“I wasn’t trying to kill her. I thought she was someone else; something else.”

“What do you mean something else?”

“I don’t know if what I saw was real or not. I’m not sure if I was being brainwashed or if I was hallucinating but I never wanted to hurt anyone. I never wanted to kill Sarah.”

Peter sobbed and dropped his head back into his hands.

“Mr. Dominic?”

He didn’t respond.

“Mr. Dominic?”

Detective Hartley felt Peter was playing her for a fool. She smacked the table causing Peter to jump.

“Tell me what happened. Why did you kill Sarah Morris?”

Peter wiped the tears off his face and cleared his throat.

“It was an accident. This all started in the morning on my way to work. I had finished eating breakfast and was about to leave.”

***

“Thank you, sweetheart. I need to go now before I’m late.”

Peter kissed his wife as he finished chewing the toast his wife made for him. He was double-checking his briefcase when the phone rang.

His wife answered.

“This is the Dominic’s. Oh! Hello Jason. Peter was about to… I suppose he… all right hold on.”

She covered the receiver with her hand.

“He needs to talk to you.”

“Can’t it wait until I get to the lab?”

Jason had never called him this early.

“He sounds upset. Something could be wrong.”

Peter took the phone from her.

“Yes Jason? What!? No, nothing was unusual last night. Around four in the morning? You’re sure? And it’s already hit? Yes, I’ll meet you at the sight. Okay. See you in about… twenty minutes.”

Peter giggled as he closed his briefcase.

“What is it dear?”

“A meteorite landed last night outside of town. Jason got a call from the lab’s security about all the instruments making loud noises. He’s on his way out to the site now.”

Peter couldn’t contain his enthusiasm.

“That’s wonderful Peter. Take lots of pictures for me.”

She was always supportive of Peter’s interests.

***

“I rushed out the door and drove ten miles over the speed limit all the way to the meteorite. This was something that excited and thrilled me and I was proud to be a part of it all.”

Peter was silent for a long period.

“What kind of music do you think she listened too? What might her hobbies have been?”

Detective Hartley thought the only way to keep Peter talking was to tell him about who Sarah Morris was. She had information in the file but not a great deal. She gestured to her partner to come closer and whispered in his ear. He left the room. The detective continued her questioning with a different approach.

“I will tell you what I can about Ms. Morris, but I need you to continue with your explanation Mr. Dominic.”

“Have you ever killed anyone, Detective?”

“No.”

“Then you don’t understand how it feels to take someone else’s life. It’s sickening, like I may vomit. Please tell me something and I’ll continue.”

Peter said with hopeful eyes. Remorse was the only emotion he could display.

Detective Hartley sighed.

“She was five-nine and brunette with green eyes. She was very healthy and was a life guard volunteer with the YWCA.”

“She sounds like my wife. Tell me more, please?”

“The more information you give me the more I give you.”

Peter took a deep breath.

“When… when I arrived, Jason was taking samples. He was running tests to check for any radiation and magnetism. I couldn’t believe how large the meteorite was…”

An excerpt from “Disengagement” from the short story collection The Morbid Museum.

Fiction Friday: The Demon’s Favor

I first met Mr. Yao at a political rally, although this meeting didn’t occur in the conventional sense. Everyone attended the rally to raise money for street repairs. It didn’t seem like the sort of thing anyone would protest against. But you never know what motivates other people.

Everyone’s cheers and chanting fell. Muffled screams and load pops moved closer to the door. A man with a white beard crashed through the glass doors.

“Everyone run! He’s got a gun!”

Screams filled the room. Only the loud pops from the rifle broke through the screeching and yelling. I hid around a corner with two others. People fell like sacks of potatoes. Blood crawled along the grout between the tiles. Constant screaming. More rifle pops.

The active shooter turned towards me. I closed my eyes with my hands in the air; waiting. The screaming stopped; no noise.

Am I dead?

I waited a moment. Silence. I opened my eyes. Everyone stood frozen in place; like wax figures.

Is this death? Does time stop when you die?

That’s when I met Mr. Yao. He walked up to me while everything else remained motionless.

“Good evening, Mr. Pion. My name is Mr. Yao. I have a proposition for you.”

“What?”

“You see, you are about to get shot. I can stop this from happening. I can save your life.”

“How? What’s happening?”

“As you may or may not have noticed, I have stopped time. I can only hold it for a couple more minutes, so you must make a decision. Would you like to live…”

He pointed at the active shooter.

“…or die?”

“Of course, I want to live!”

“Excellent!”

With a smoky poof, a stack of papers and a pen appeared in Mr. Yao’s hands.

“I need your signature before we can move forward.”

I stared at the contract.

“What’s the catch?”

“Simply this, I do a favor for you today and in return sometime in the future, I will call upon you to do a favor for me.”

“That’s it?”

“That is it. Nothing more and nothing less.”

“What if I don’t do your favor?”

“Then you die like you should have to today.”

He remained calm and cool during the whole conversation. Everything about him looked pleasant except his smile; that wolfish grin.

Is this a lie so he can eat me?

“Time will be starting up soon, Mr. Pion. Sign or do not. It is your choice.”

I walked forward, took the pen, and signed my name.

“Excellent!”

He turned the page.

“And sign here.”

He turned another page.

“Initial here. Initial again. Sign here. Mother’s maiden name. Sign again…”

“Can’t I do this all with one signature?”

“And finally, stab your index finger with the pen and smear the blood on this page.”

“What?”

“I am kidding. That is a terrible joke.”

“What the hell, dude!?”

“Hey, lighten up Mr. Pion. I saved your life. And please do not call me dude.”

With a puff of smoke, he was gone.

“NO!” The shooter said.

The rifle jammed. Police fired their pistols. The shooter dropped to his knees and the rifle fell to his side. He choked on his own blood and fell to the floor.

“The target is down! Move in!”

The shooter looked up at me, struggling for words.

“Your turn.” He said.

***

Seven years passed, and I never thought of that day; a bad dream long forgotten. I lived alone, with my dog Max. I got home one evening excited to see my floppy eared friend.

“Hey Max. I got you a new bone.”

“Hello Mr. Pion.”

“Jesus Christ!”

With a lump in my throat and chest pounding, I grabbed the umbrella next to my door. Max put his head on the floor with his tail wagging in the air ready to play.

“Your jasmine green tea is delicious. And my name is not Jesus.”

“Who are you? How’d you get in my house? How’d you get passed my dog? Why are you sitting in the dark drinking my tea?”

“I am very offended that you do not remember me, Mr. Pion. I only saved your life many years ago from a misguided shooter. But to answer your questions, you may recall my name is Mr. Yao. I come and go as I please and Max is unaware of my presence, and I’m waiting for you to turn the lights on. Allow me.”

He snapped his fingers and the lamp next to him lit up. Max didn’t acknowledge him and acted as if only I stood in the room.

“I apologize; I didn’t recognize you.”

“No harm; no fowl. Do you recall the agreement we made?”

With a poof, a stack of papers appeared in his hands.

“I owe you a favor, don’t I?”

“Excellent memory, Mr. Pion. Yes, it is time to repay that debt. I am afraid you will not commit to what I am going to ask of you. Do keep in mind, by signing this document, you have already agreed to the undertaking. Would you like to review the contract before I continue?”

“I remember the agreement. Let’s get this over with.”

“Very well. Please sit down and enjoy this fabulous tea with me.”

A cup of tea poofed onto the coffee table. I couldn’t help but examine it before taking a sip. The aroma climbed up my nostrils with hot steam almost burning my nose. I burned my tongue and the roof of my mouth. It tasted sweet, as though Mr. Yao knew exactly how much honey I like in my tea. How did he make things appear out of thin air?

“Simply put Mr. Pion, in exchange for your life, you owe me another life. As I have said, you have already agreed to this and backing out now is not an option. We cannot go back in time to when you should have died so you must take a life. You can choose the life, or I can choose for you. I will give you one day to decide. I will return this time tomorrow.”

Poof.

He vanished as quick as he appeared. The cup of tea left with him and Max never noticed things coming and going in my living room. The lump in my throat wouldn’t go down and I felt nauseous. I’d never taken a life.

I couldn’t sleep. Max snored all night on the floor. I felt anxious the next day. Small children even scared me.

“Hey, mister? Bang! Bang!”

“Steven don’t point your toys at people!”

I walked by a movie poster covered with monsters and demons and a big, bold ‘Coming Soon’ on the bottom. Every time someone spoke, I heard something different.

“You gonna kill some people?” 

“What!? What are you talking about?” I said.

“I said, do you have a light?” 

“Oh! No, sorry.”

I avoided everyone the rest of the way home. I didn’t want to hurt anyone. I decided not to go through with the contract.

It must have a loophole.

~ An excerpt from “The Demon’s Favor” from the short story collection The Morbid Museum.

Coffee & Contemplation: The Beginning

I am adding a couple new things to my blog. For you poetry lovers, I’ll soon start Twofer Tuesdays, where I post two poems in one post every Tuesday. Twice the poetry you get on Mondays. I have not decided if I want to bring back Hump Day Haikus. Currently, I just have not written enough haikus to make that a weekly consistent thing. Maybe I can do something once a month. For now, the only poetry item I’m adding is Twofer Tuesdays. If that’s not enough poetry, you can subscribe to my Patreon for $1 per month to gain access to my unpublished poetry before anyone else.

The other item I’m adding to my blog is posts like this one. Coffee and contemplation involves me writing out my thoughts while drinking coffee. Topics are only limited to things I think about. I may rant about society. I may tell you my favorite things. I may word vomit nonsense into the post and have no real agenda or purpose with the post. I’m trying to get myself to write more on my blog in between writing fiction and poetry. If you want to see more writing, tell people about my blog and my books. If enough people buy my books and subscribe to my Patreon account, I’ll make enough money to write full time. That’s the dream anyway.

My next book comes out September 19. You can pre-order The Morbid Museum on Amazon Kindle. Amazon does not offer pre-odering of paperbacks, but you can pre-order a signed copy of the paperback in my Shop. Visit the shop for more details. I also have a few events coming in October and November. I’ll provide more details once I have them. Until then, the best thing you all can do is share and comment. Tell your friends about me. If you’d like an advanced copy of my forthcoming book, I’ll email you a digital copy in exchange for an honest review. Reviews are what help writers succeed. Fill out the Contact Form if you’re interested. Happy reading.