What’s up Wednesday Rides Again: Anxiety, Defeat, And the Long Road Home

First off, I’ll spare you all the usual groveling and the possibly false promises to do better this time. For the record, I really am trying to establish a regular blogging schedule. To be perfectly honest, I’ve come to miss my weekly confessional. I think it really does help to do a weekly purge of some of the thoughts running around my head. Let’s just call this my own little digital pensieve. Yes, I’m a nerd. You should know this by now.


As for where I’ve been, I’ll cover that in the meat of the post, along with a bunch of other stuff. Speaking of which…

Where I’ve Been

You may have already guessed this, but my latest unplanned hiatus had everything to do with my old nemesis, Crippling Anxiety. Now for what brought it about this time.

As you may already know, I’d planned to go to this year’s Thrillerfest & Pitchfest in NYC. I was really excited to go. Partly because one of my literary heroes is going to be there, George R. R. Martin. Mister Game Of Thrones himself. I was really hoping to get a chance to talk to him and pick his brain.

More importantly, I was looking forward to showing up to pitchfest with a dynamite manuscript and having all the agents fighting over me, putting me on the path to becoming someone else’s literary hero. (Shut up. It’s my fantasy and I’ll dream it how I want.)

Unfortunately, finances being what they are, I was going to have to do my trip on a shoestring. That’s when I came up with an oh so brilliant plan. Rather than pay a fortune for a hotel and airfare, I would take the van my mom had given me and turn it into a camper which I would then drive to New York, park it somewhere away from Manhattan (probably Brooklyn), and use it in lieu of a hotel room.

And that’s where the trouble started.

The Van. I was thinking of calling it The Writer Wagon

You see, I’ve only ever been to New York twice. The first time was a school trip when I was in middle school, and the second was a couple of years ago and I never left Manhattan. I’d planned to park in one of the other boroughs and take the train into the city. the problem was, not having actually been there, I could find out where I was allowed to park, but I couldn’t figure out where I should park.

I had no idea what was a bad neighborhood and what was a good one. Imagine my surprise when I found out that Harlem is actually somewhat high class now. Needless to say, I spent a lot of time trying to plan my trip. The more I tried to come up with a plan, the more anxious I became. Add to this the fact that I was going to be on an extremely tight time schedule. I was going to have to leave as soon as I got off work two days before and figured I would arrive well after dark. Then I would need to find a branch of my gym, take a shower, then find a decent place to park so I could be up bright and early the next morning to pitch my book. Needless to say, that’s where mean ol’ Mr. Anxiety crept back in.

the more anxious I became about planning the trip, the more I began to neglect the whole reason I was going in the first place. I wasn’t writing. The more I failed to write, the more anxious I began to feel. The more anxious I got, the more I couldn’t write. And so on, and so on.

Still, once the snow melted, I decided it was time to start work on the van. The first thing I did was remove all the back seats to make room for my bed. Next, I took it for a little spin to see how it felt to drive it. I figured I’d take it to the grocery store and back. nothing major. Besides, you can fit a lot of groceries in an empty van. Everything was going fine until I got about three blocks away from my house and the van stalled. If I were still in my twenties, I would have pushed it the rest of the way, but sadly, I’m twice that and I’m just not the strong young bull I used to be. I ended up paying sixty dollars to have it towed three blocks, but there was a blizzard coming in and I needed to get it home. At least the tow truck driver gave me some insight as to the problem. it appears to be a problem with the fuel pump.

By the end of the day, I was thoroughly exhausted and questioning everything. I thought I might be able to afford a plane ticket and a hotel and did some research. With the money I had and perhaps a small loan, I discovered I would still be able to make the trip.

That’s when I did the other math.

When I’m writing regularly, I can average about a thousand words a day. I have had two or even three thousand word days, but those are a rarity. Still, I figured on a thousand a day as my goal. Then I counted up how many days I had left until my deadline. My heart sank. If I managed to meet my goal of a thousand words a day, I figured I could probably just reach my word count goal for the book just in time by the skin of my teeth. This would leave me with a very rough first draft to show agents. Unacceptable. Add to this the fact that lately I’ve been lucky to eke out five hundred words a day and I was completely sunk.

For a brief moment I considered going anyway just for the experience, but quickly threw that idea out the window. It would be silly and a waste to spend all that money just to show up empty handed. So, as much as it pained me to admit defeat, I made the wiser choice to save my money for next year when I plan to have multiple manuscripts to shop around.

Once I’d made my decision, I felt a huge weight lift off my shoulders. While I’m still a bit disappointed I won’t be going this year, i’m already looking forward to next year and having all those agents fighting over me.

I gave myself two weeks to relax and not worry about writing, but that time is up. It’s still going to be a long road back to where I once was as a writer, but I’m ready to start the trek home five hundred words at a time.

And that’s where I should end this week’s update. I still have a lot to tell you, but I suppose I should save some for later. I’ll see you next week. Until then…

Don’t forget to stalk me online.

www.justinmkelly.com

Check me out on Facebook

On Twitter @JustinMKelly1

My Amazon page, in case you want to read more

On Goodreads

And on YouTube

I also post a copy of this blog on Tumblr

You can now help support my writing on Patreon

And, of course, please buy my debut short story, Blood Moon

Also, Amazon apparently now considers me an influencer, which means that they basically gave me my own Amazon store where I can recommend products. I do get a cut of anything you buy when you click my link. Unless you’d rather all your money go to a faceless corporation.  🙂 You can find my influencer page here. https://www.amazon.com/shop/justinmkellywriter

 

Flash Fiction Friday Number 19: The Golden Apple

Okay. I know it’s been over a month since my last Flash Fiction Friday, but we’ve been dealing with the aftermath of a death in the family. Also, this one took a bit longer to write. Partly because this one isn’t exactly flash fiction. it falls more into short story territory.

Anyway, as you may remember, I was going to write a less literal, more adult story inspired by the same roll of the dice used to write Rory’s Apple Adventure. FFF #18 . To see the actual roll, click here. Anyway, I’ll stop boring you. I give you…

The Golden Apple

“Robby. I need that report on my desk by three.” Mister Simmons said, turning and walking away without waiting for an answer.

“Sir?” Rory said.

“Yes?” Mr. Simmons paused without turning back around, clearly annoyed at having his time wasted.

“Never mind.” Rory said, deciding it would be better to answer to someone else’s name rather than upset the boss.

“Okay then. Remember, two O-clock.”

Rory got to work, cursing himself for losing himself an hour.

At ten, his alarm went off. He briefly considered skipping his break, but thought better of it. Even though he didn’t really need to go, it would be another two hours until his lunch break. By then, he knew, he would probably be dying. Besides, he relished his little breaks. Even when he didn’t really need to go, he loved to lock himself in the stall, pull his feet up and shut his eyes for a few minutes. On the rare occasions it didn’t smell too bad, he would even practice some of the deep breathing exercises his therapist had suggested.

He was doing just that when the door opened and two men walked in, talking to each other. He didn’t recognize the voices, but their shoes were nicer than anyone on his floor usually wore. Rory curled himself into an even tighter ball, feeling somehow guilty for no reason whatsoever.

“God, I hate using the can down here with the commoners. When are they going to get the executive wash room fixed?”

“Not for at least another week.”

“Ugh. They don’t even have decent soap in here.”

“Can’t let these peons get a taste of the good life, can we? Besides, once we turn the golden apple on…”

“Shh.”

Rory saw one of the men walk past his stall, bent low, checking for feet. He almost breathed a sigh of relief when the executive moved past, apparently satisfied that the bathroom was empty.

“Anyway, like I was saying, once we turn that golden apple on, our worries will be over.”

“Don’t you feel at least a little bad for all those people? I mean, this is their savings we’re talking about.”

“That’s the thing. It’s savings. They’re not using it. It’s just sitting in a bank account. These people don’t know how to spend their money. It’s just going to rot in their account until they die.”

“I guess.”

“Look at it this way. Taking all that money and spending it will be just the kickstart the economy needs.”

“But how? We’ll be spending it in another country.”

“Details, details.”

“Well, if it’s going to happen, I hope it happens soon. The thought of all those account numbers sitting there on that hard drive in Julian’s office makes me nervous. If we get caught…”

“We won’t. Besides, even if they raid us, like you said, it’s in Julian’s office. Connected to his computer. He’s the one who goes down for trying to rip off all those poor people. We had no idea he was capable of such a thing. Poor bastard doesn’t even know he’s committing the crime of the century.”

The other man laughed.

“So when do we turn it on?”

“We just need a few thousand more accounts. Maybe a week? Put it this way. I’d start packing now. Once we flip the switch, we’re gonna want to scoot. Best to be in some nice non-extradition country before anyone figures out what we’ve done.”

“Good thinking.” He laughed as the bathroom door opened and the men walked out.

Rory couldn’t believe what he’d just heard. Were these men really planning on cleaning out people’s savings accounts? He quickly washed his hands and exited the bathroom.

He made a beeline for Mister Simmons’ office and burst in without knocking.

“What’s the meaning of this?” Simmons shouted.

“I’m sorry, Sir, but this is really important.” Rory said.

“Do you have my report ready?” Simmons asked.

“Well, uh, no sir. But I just heard these two guys in the bathroom. They were talking about something called the golden apple. They’re going to…”

Simmons’ eyes widened at the mention of the golden apple.

“That’s enough. I’ll not have you making up wild stories as an excuse for not finishing your work on time. I’m afraid you’re done here at Oak Tree Investments. Clean out your desk, Ricky.”

Rory turned to go.

“Sir. One more thing.”

“What now?”

“It’s Rory. I want you to remember that.”

“Get out!”

As Rory packed his things, he wondered what to do next. Clearly Simmons was in on the scam. Who knew who else? Possibly everyone above his pay level. Except for Julian of course, whoever he was. Rory couldn’t go to the cops without some sort of proof. He’d just look like another disgruntled employee.

Then it hit him. He did know someone who might be able to help.

He looked at his pitiful box of posessions and realized it was all meaningless. He left it on his former desk as he walked out. As he passed through the glass doors of his building, he expected his anxiety to kick in at being suddenly unemployed for the first time since high-school, but instead he felt free in a way he’d never thought possible.

. . .

Rory wished he’d changed before going to see Mark. He stuck out like a sore thumb walking around in his suit in the commune Mark had joined after he’d gotten out of prison. Even worse, everyone he passed eyed him warily. Nobody answered when he asked for Mark. Still, nobody bothered him, either. Just as he was giving up hope, he heard a familiar voice call out to him.

“Well, well. If it ain’t the lion’s roar himself.” Mark said, hanging out of the door of a small trailer. He looked so much different than he had the last time Rory had seen him that he was glad Mark had spotted him. He wasn’t sure he would have recognized this man with long hair and a scraggly beard.

“Hey Mark. How have you been?”

“Mark’s gone. It’s Sunflower now.” His friend said. Rory waited for the punchline, but none came. “I changed it when I decided to cut that noose from my neck.”

“You mean when you were busted for hacking.”

“So what brings you out to the land of the hippies?” Sunflower asked, ignoring Rory’s comment.

“I have a little computer problem I need some help with.”

“No can do, partner. I’m not about that life any more.”

“Uh huh.” Rory said, eyeing the impressive array of antennae emerging from the roof of the small camper.

Mark/Sunflower followed his line of sight and sighed.

“You always were smarter than you let on. I guess you might as well come inside.”

The inside of the trailer was so full of old computers, Rory wondered where Sunflower slept.

Sunflower handed Rory a beer that seemed to appear out of nowhere and sat on the small patch of floor in the center of the trailer. Rory did the same.

“So what is it you need? And it’d better be good.” Sunflower said.

Rory quickly told him everything he’d heard in the bathroom, all the while, Sunflower leaned closer. Rory was worried that if his jaw dropped any more, it might actually scrape the floor.

“Those sons of…” He finally said.

“Right?” Rory agreed.

“We’ve got to stop them.” Sunflower said, jumping up and opening a terminal.

“What are you doing?”

“Seeing what I can find on this golden apple.”

“I doubt you’ll find anything on the internet.”

“Internet? I’ve been deep in their system since long before they had me arrested. A digital fly on the wall if you will.”

Rory sat back and drank his beer as Sunflower typed furiously. Before he’d finished it, Sunflower found what he was looking for.

“Bingo.”

“You got it? Wipe it clean.”

“I found it, yes. But cracking it is another story. Security to this thing is iron clad. I’m going to need to be in the same room with it to get into it. Besides, I wouldn’t wipe it anyway.”

“Why not?”

“Because. If I wipe it, there’s no evidence. If there’s no evidence, these guys don’t go to prison and do it again in a couple of months. Do you still have your security badge?”

Rory looked down and saw it was still clipped to his belt.

“Yeah, why?”

Sunflower snatched it from him.

“Because, one of us is going to need to get in there. Now who do you want to be? Be careful. Whoever’s identity you use is going to be in a buttload of trouble.”

“Simmons.” Rory said without hesitation.

“Good choice.” Sunflower laughed.

. . .

Rory tried not to look nervous as he used his reprogrammed badge to open the doors and walked up to the desk where a very muscular black man in a uniform sat watching some action movie on his tablet. Rory almost breathed a sigh of relief when he realized that this was a guard he’d never seen before. The name on his tag said Alphonso.

Alphonso quickly stopped his movie and stowed his tablet when he saw Rory.

“Hello sir, may I help you?” the guard asked with a sheepish grin.

“Just need to finish a little paperwork that didn’t get done.” Rory answered. He could feel his palms getting clammy as the lie left his lips.

“Certainly, sir. I just need to see your badge.”

Rory handed it over, willing his hand not to shake. Alphonso studied the security badge for a long moment. Rory felt a sheen of sweat break out on his forehead.

Finally, Alphonso handed the badge back and smiled.

“You have a good evening, Mister Simmons.”

“You too, Alphonso. And don’t worry. It’ll be our little secret.” Rory said, nodding toward the spot where Alphonso had hidden his tablet.

“Thank you, sir. I appreciate that.”

Rory flashed him another smile that turned to a look of panic as he turned toward the elevators.

As soon as the doors slid shut, Rory almost pressed the button for his old floor out of habit before remembering that this time, he was going all the way to the top.

“Okay. I’m in.” Rory said.

The earpiece Sunflower had given him crackled to life.

“Okay. You’re looking for the office of Julian Walker.”

Rory found it quickly, but when he turned the handle, it didn’t move.

“It’s locked.” Rory said. “What now?”

“Give me a second.” Sunflower said.

A moment later, Rory heard the electronic lock click. Rory tried the handle again and the door opened.

“Got it.” Rory whispered.

“Good, now put the device in the computer and I’ll take care of the rest.”
Rory did as he was asked and waited. He felt himself starting to tremble with the tension.

“Comeoncomeoncomeon.” Rory said under his breath.

“I’m working as fast as I can.” Sunflower said. Then a moment later, “Jesus!”

“What?” Rory asked, panicking.

“They’ve got the banking info of everyone who’s ever done business with ol’ Oak tree Financial. Not to mention the employees.”

“Jesus.” Rory repeated back.

“Aaaaannnnnd, got it.” Sunflower said, finally.

Rory snatched the device out of the computer. As he did, the printer whirred to life.

“Did you do that?” Rory whispered as loudly as he could, startled.

“Yes. We need a hard copy just in case.”

As soon as the printer stopped, Rory grabbed the sheaf of papers and shoved them down the front of his pants.

“What about the apple?” Rory asked, looking at the round device plugged into the back of the computer. “Shouldn’t I take it?”

“Not if you want to take these guys down. They need to be caught with it. Now get out of there.”

As Rory rode the elevator down. He was overcome with an odd sense of peace. It was almost over. He just had to walk past Alphonso, who was probably still engrossed in his movie, and it would be over.

The elevator doors opened and Rory found himself looking down the barrel of Alphonso’s revolver. Rory didn’t know much about guns, but it looked like a big one to him.

“What’s going on, Al?” Rory asked, trying to sound casual.

“I looked up Simmons in the database. You ain’t him. Now come out of there slowly and get down on the ground.”

“Look. I can explain.” Rory said.

“Sure you can.”

“Can I just show you something?”

Alphonso thought for a moment.

“Okay, but you’d better make it quick. Cops are on their way.”

Rory pulled up his shirt very slowly, trying not to get shot, to show Alphonso the papers.

“I’m just going to pull these papers out.”

“Okay, but no funny stuff.”

“Never.” Rory said, dripping with sweat.

As soon as Rory had the papers in his hand, Alphonso relaxed just a bit. Rory began rifling through the papers until he found the page he was looking for.

“Let’s see. Alphonso Simpson is it?”

“How’d you know that?”

Rory then rattled off the series of numbers after his name. Rory hadn’t realized someone with such dark skin could turn so pale.

“That’s my bank account.” Alfonso said, surprised. “How’d you get that?”

“Lower that thing and I’ll tell you.”

Alphonso thought for a brief moment and then pointed his gun at the floor, still ready to bring it back to the ready if he needed to. Rory, as quickly as he could, explained everything about Simmons, overhearing the execs talking, and the golden apple.

“Sonofabitch.” Alphonso said. “You’d better go, before the cops get here.”

Rory took a couple of steps before turning around.

“Here. Give them this when they get here. Tell them everything I told you.” Rory said, handing him the papers.

“And where do I say I got ‘em?”

“Tell them Rory gave them to you.” Rory said, before turning and walking out through the glass door.

As he walked down the street, listening to the approaching sirens, Rory felt as close as he would ever get to walking away coolly from an exploding building. Still something was eating at him.

“Congratulations, buddy. You did it.” Sunflower said through the earpiece.

“Yeah.” Rory said.

“What’s wrong?”

“I was just thinking. These guys are already so rich, they’ll probably just hire a bunch of high-priced lawyers and get off anyway.”

“Leave that to me.” Sunflower said, almost laughing.

“What are you going to do?”

“Well, I made a copy of the apple.”

“So?”

“I’m going to turn it on.”

“You’re what?!”

“Don’t worry. You see, there were actually two lists of accounts. Those to be drained, and another set of accounts listed as untouchables. Guess who those belong to.”

“I still don’t see…”

“Just give me a second.”

Rory could hear him typing through the earpiece.

“Just a bit of magic from my own little fingers as I switch the lists, and boom. The rat bastards are as broke as we are… were.”

Rory did his best not to celebrate right there on the sidewalk as the first cop car rushed past him.

“So what did you do with the money?” Rory asked, finally.

“Most of it’s safe in an untraceable offshore account that only the two of us will be able to access.”

“And the rest?”

I took the liberty of opening a secret trust fund for the children of one Alphonso Simpson to be delivered when they reach college. Now I’ve got to go pack. You should probably do the same.”

 

And there it is. Proof that you can interpret the dice any way you want. In this case, Rory has transformed from a literal sheep, to a sheepish man. The magical sunflower has turned into a hippie named Sunflower with magic-like hacking abilities. I think you can figure out the rest of the symbolism on your own.

As always, don’t forget to stalk me online.

www.justinmkelly.com

Check me out on Facebook

On Twitter @JustinMKelly1

My Amazon page, in case you want to read more

On Goodreads

And on YouTube

I also post a copy of this blog on Tumblr

You can now help support my writing on Patreon

And, of course, please buy my debut short story, Blood Moon

I’ve also reopened my Amazon merch store, Scribe’s Station where I sell writing and book related T-Shirts.

Flash Fiction Friday Number 17: Spiders

Hey guys.

Well, it’s almost Halloween. That gives us time for one more scary story before I return to my regularly scheduled programming. This one is a bit long to be considered flash, but I like how it turned out.

Anyway, on to the story. I simply call this one…

Spiders

Jake’s eyes snapped open.

What a weird dream. Jake thought as he lay there in bed.

In his mind’s eye, he could still see the cave, the strange symbols on the stone floor, and the figures in black robes dancing around the room as they performed their ritual. He could even still hear their haunting chants.

Jake sat bolt-upright in bed as he realized that this wasn’t a dream. He could actually hear the chanting. It seemed as if it were coming from directly under his bed. After listening for a few more minutes, he was convinced that’s exactly where it was coming from. He jumped out of bed and pushed his worn mattress out of the way. The spot where the mattress had lain on the floor for so long was marked by an absence of the filth that littered the rest of the floor.

Jake’s hands began feeling around the hardwood floor, pressing here and there, looking for a loose board or something so he could see where the sound was coming from. He just wanted a peek, that was all. Then he would gather up his few possessions and leave the house for good. It had been a good house and he’d enjoyed his time there, especially since nobody bothered him, but he knew when it was time to move on.

Jake’s left hand jerked as if it had a mind of its own. When it came back down, the board it landed on gave just a little. Jake pressed harder and he heard a click. Suddenly, the panel of flooring beneath him began to rise. Jake jumped off and stood back as a section almost the size of his old twin mattress opened in the floor. The chanting grew louder as it did.

As Jake peered down into the black hole in the floor, he could see a set of wooden stairs leading down into the dark. They looked like basement stairs, but as far as Jake had been able to tell, the house didn’t have a basement.

“Don’t do it, Jake.” He said to himself even as his right foot touched the first step.

“Seriously. Who cares where the chanting is coming from?” He said as his left foot followed his right.

Jake continued to try to talk himself out of proceeding even as he went further down the stairs, but he couldn’t stop his feet.

“Come on, Jake.” He pleaded with himself. “You know this place is supposed to be haunted. That’s why nobody ever bothered us. Let’s just turn back and go find a new place to live.”

Still, Jake’s feet continued to take step after step down the rickety old staircase. He didn’t even realize how dark it was getting until he heard the click of the latch above his head as the hole in the floor closed behind him. He continued down, now navigating by feel. With the click of the latch, he’d stopped arguing with himself.

“The only way out is through.” Jake said to the darkness. Who had said that? He wondered, hoping to take his mind off the mortal peril he was now sure he was in. He couldn’t remember.

Jake felt a thick spiderweb on his face and panicked. It felt thick enough to bind the largest man. Jake’s panicked brain wondered if there were some sort of breed of giant spider that had learned to mimic chanting to lure unsuspecting humans into its web. He swatted at his face and grasped the tendril of web, jerking it as he tried to rip it off.

The light went on.

It was just the pull-cord for a bare bulb. Jake thought with a sigh of relief.

As Jake stood there on the stairs, trying to calm his racing heart, he looked around and found that he was indeed in a large basement filled with all the usual suspects. Broken furniture, moldering cardboard boxes leaking decades old clothing, rotted books, discarded toys, and the like.

The only thing was, the basement was impossibly huge. He estimated that he’d already descended about ten feet and was only halfway to the bottom and in the dim light of the single bare bulb, Jake couldn’t even see the far wall. He looked back up at the top of the stairs, hoping against hope that he would see some sort of latch to reopen the hole in the floor, but it looked like the underside of any other floor. He wanted to look for some way to reopen it, but his feet were still moving down the stairs.

When he reached the dirt floor of the basement, his feet continued on even faster, as if guided by the chants echoing through the basement chamber. He easily navigated through the labyrinth of detritus in the basement. Or, more accurately, the chamber made to look like a basement, as he was now sure this room was.

Finally, he found himself facing another hole in the floor. Instead of being dark, the hole flickered with candlelight. The stairs were cut into the bedrock itself. Jake didn’t even try to argue as his right foot took the first step, followed by the left. The chanting was deafening now. Jake felt the fear and panic oozing out of his body. He felt fascinated by the intricate carvings adorning the walls. He felt, if he’d had enough time, he might have been able to actually read some of the strange writing, but still his feet pressed on.

Finally, the stairwell opened up onto a familiar cavern. It was exactly as he’d dream’t it, right down to the drawings on the floor and the black-robed figures. Except they weren’t dancing now. They were staring directly at him. The chanting stopped, and he felt control of his body return to him. Something deep down told him to run, but he still felt logy.

Probably from being woken out of a dead sleep, now that the adrenaline has worn off. He thought.

“Welcome, Jake.” The one who appeared to be the leader said.

“Welcome, Jake.” The rest of them repeated.

“Who are you?” Jake asked.

“I am Tarquin, and this is my flock.” the leader said, removing his cowl. “Please, there’s no reason to stand in the doorway. Come. Join us.”

Jake didn’t know what he’d expected to see under the hood, but found himself looking at a man. Perhaps a bit gaunt and pale, but a man nonetheless. Not wanting to appear rude, he did as Tarquin asked and walked toward him. As he did so, the others moved silently around the room.

As his head began to clear, Jake felt the first tendrils of fear creeping back into his brain. Even though he was smiling, there was something about that smile that Jake didn’t like. He just couldn’t put his finger on it.

“Why are you guys living under my house?” Jake asked.

“Your house?” Tarquin smiled. “I believe you’re mistaken. That house belongs to me and my flock. We call it our little web.”

Jake chuckled at the comparison. “Your web? That would make you…”

He looked at Tarquin, who was now grinning broadly, revealing an oversized set of dagger-like canine teeth.

“Spiders.” Tarquin finished for him, and began to laugh.

Jake looked around. The rest of the spiders had formed a circle around the two of them and it was quickly shrinking.

Jake tried to run, but was quickly caught in the powerful clutches of one of the vampires. Jake tensed, expecting to feel fangs pierce his skin. Instead, the vampire dragged him back to Tarquin, grabbing his hair and exposing his neck.

“Thank you Octavius.” Tarquin said. “Tell me something, Jake. Are you afraid?”

Jake did his best to nod while at the same time feeling a slight surge of relief. Could this have been some elaborate hidden-camera prank all along?

“Good. Fear gives the blood so much more flavor.” Tarquin said as he plunged his fangs into Jake’s carotid artery.

Even as he felt his life draining out of his neck, he felt pinpricks all over his body as the rest of the spiders took their share.

.     .     .

So that’s it for this year’s Hallowen stories. I hope you liked it.

I’m going to try to post every week in November, but I’m also going to be doing NaNoWriMo to try to finish one of my novels which means I have to write at least 1667 words every day of the month just for that so I’m not sure I’ll also be able to do a piece of flash every week on top of it, but I’ll do my best.

As always, don’t forget to stalk me online.

www.justinmkelly.com

Check me out on Facebook

On Twitter @JustinMKelly1

My Amazon page, in case you want to read more

On Goodreads

And on YouTube

I also post a copy of this blog on Tumblr

And, of course, please buy my debut short story, Blood Moon

 

Flash Fiction Friday Number 16: A Portrait In Red

Hey guys. It’s that time of the week again. This week’s offering comes with a warning. Parts of this story are somewhat gruesome. So if you’re the squeamish type, particularly when it comes to blood, you might want to look away. For the rest of you, I present…

A Portrait In Red

An out of breath Anton looked around at his now trashed studio and smiled angrily. Broken paintings lay everywhere. The entire room was spattered with a galaxy of color radiating out from a sun of smashed paint tubes.

“There. Much more fitting for a trash artist like me.” He said to nobody in particular.

Anton turned to the one survivor. A blank canvas supported by his trusty easel. The easel he’d bought in a junk shop eons ago. He’d tried all sorts of fancy new easels, but always came back to this one. Sometimes he thought that maybe the easel was the true source of his talent.

“What talent?” He said to the trashed room.

The critics had hated his work. One had described him as another piece of street trash pretending to be an artist. Another had simply called his work forgettable.

Anton looked down at his right hand which still clutched the large kitchen knife he’d used to slash his paintings. He approached the blank canvas.

“I’ll show them. I’ll give them something to remember.”

He drew the knife up his left wrist, severing the artery. The first gout of blood spattered the pristine white canvas and he laughed maniacally. Knowing his time was limited, he snatched up the first brush to hand, dipped it in the freely flowing blood and got to work.

He painted frantically. Only pausing for a moment at a time to glance at the mirror before attacking the canvas once again.

Finally it was done. He stumbled back from his painting to admire his work. The vibrant red was already fading to a dull brown, but it remained an almost perfect self-portrait. Then the painting began to blur, finally becoming completely black along with the rest of his studio.

When Anton awoke, he was staring at his still trashed studio, although the angle was a bit funny. He couldn’t tell if he’d been out for minutes, hours, or days. He tried to look at his watch, but found he couldn’t move.

“Great, idiot. You didn’t kill yourself, you just somehow managed to paralyze yourself.” Anton thought to himself once he discovered his lips wouldn’t move.

Then he saw it. Laying on the floor was a large lump that vaguely resembled him. He realized he was looking at his own dead body. Was he a ghost? Why couldn’t he move?

Just then, the door to the studio flew open and his agent, Kathy, breezed in, followed by her weaselly assistant, Kyle.

“Anton? Are you home? I do hope you’re not still sulking over a few bad reviews.”

Kathy paused, taking in the carnage.

“Ugh. What’s that smell?” Kyle asked.

Kathy strolled over to the lump on the floor, surveying his dead body.

“Oh, Andy. What have you done?”

“Who?” Kyle asked.

“Anton. Andy was his real name. He thought Anton sounded more artistic.”

“I’m over here.” Anton tried to say, thinking it as hard as he could.

Karen turned, as if she’d heard him, and walked over, staring him right in the face. Kyle followed.

“Ugh. What the hell is that?” Kyle asked, wrinkling his nose.

“His last statement. One final middle finger to the art world.”

It was then that Anton realized what had happened. He was trapped  in his own self-portrait.

“Should we get rid of it?”

“Are you crazy? Call the gallery. Let them know we need the space for another auction as soon as possible.”

“For one painting? What are we going to fill with?”

“Look around.” Karen said. “This room’s filled with paintings.”

“Destroyed paintings that nobody liked a week ago. Should I at least have them repaired?”

“Oh heavens no. Leave them as they are. Those art snobs may not have liked them before, but now they’re filled with the artist’s dying rage. They eat that crap up. And this monstrosity will be the jewel in the crown. Thank you Andy. You’ve just made me a very rich woman.” Karen said, laughing.

Anton was forced to watch as the cops came and the coroner loaded up his body. As his landlord sneaked in and raided his private possessions. And finally, as his paintings were repaired with strips of duct tape and loaded up before he was finally snatched up and put in the crate with the rest of them.

The auction went well. Anton watched in an amazed sort of rage as people paid thousands of dollars for paintings he hadn’t been able to get five for just a few weeks before.

Anton was bought for an ungodly amount and hung on the bedroom wall of an elderly art collector who liked to wander his house naked.

.     .     .

So that’s it for this week. I know some of you might not find the ending very scary, but I can’t think of many things more scary than that. Anyway, I hope you liked it. I’ll see you next week with another Flash Fiction Friday.

Remember to stalk me online.

www.justinmkelly.com

Check me out on Facebook

On Twitter @JustinMKelly1

My Amazon page, in case you want to read more

On Goodreads

And on YouTube

I also post a copy of this blog on Tumblr

And, of course, please buy my debut short story, Blood Moon

 

Flash Fiction Friday The Thirteenth Number 15: The Family Estate

Hey guys. I’m finally back with another Flash Fiction Friday. What with it being October and a Friday the Thirteenth, I just had to post something a little scary. Admittedly, I would have liked to have spent more time on this one, but I don’t think it’s too bad.

The Family Estate

Elizabeth’s head reeled as the car bounced along the dirt road that led to the enormous castle.

It had all happened so fast. She’d been working as a waitress in a greasy little diner and on the verge of being evicted from her tiny apartment when he walked through the door and swept her off her feet just like in one of those fairy tales.

She’d just been Lizzy then, but he’d insisted on calling her Elizabeth and it had grown on her, especially considering her new, nearly royal, lifestyle.

It had been a whirlwind courtship followed by a small ceremony. Neither of them had any family to speak of and the only friends she had were her former coworkers from the diner. When he’d approached her with his desire to move back to Romania and into his family estate, she hadn’t even needed to think about it before she’d said yes. He hadn’t told her it was an actual castle until they’d turned onto the unpaved road that led to it.

As they pulled up to the massive wooden doors, she made to grab the small suitcase that contained everything she cared about.

“Leave that.” Gregory said. “Cromwell will get it.”

“Who?”

“Him.” Gregory said, pointing out the car window at a skeleton of a man who had appeared as if out of nowhere.

“Oh, there’s no way…” She began, before Gregory shushed her.

“That’s what he’s here for. It’s okay, he’s much stronger than he looks.”

Elizabeth felt doubtful, but didn’t argue.

Gregory stepped out of the car and took her hand.

“Now, allow me to show you to your room.”

“You mean we won’t be living together?”

“Oh, you’ll be seeing more of me than you could ever want.”

She followed him into the castle and up a flight of stairs which led to a long hallway lined with dozens of portraits of women. Their clothing progressed through the ages as she made her way down the hall.

“Who are these women?” She asked.

“Those who are no longer with us.” Gregory said with a hint of sadness in his voice.

Finally, they reached a thick oak door, and Gregory opened it with an antique key. Beyond the door was a huge room decked out in the finest silks and velvets. The bed alone was as big as her old apartment.

“Of course, you’re welcome to redecorate as you see fit. Just let Cromwell know and he will get you anything you wish.”

“How?” She asked, looking around for a telephone or something.

“Just ring this bell.” He said, pulling a thick velvet rope. She heard a bell ring in the next room. “His room adjoins yours. He’s here to attend to your every need.”

As if on cue, Cromwell appeared from his room with her suitcase in hand.

“Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some things to attend to, my love. I will see you again for dinner.” Gregory said, taking her hand and kissing it. As he did, Elizabeth could have sworn she saw a flash of teeth. But they couldn’t be teeth. Nobody had teeth that long.

Gregory slipped out through the oak door, closing it behind him. She heard the distinct sound of an iron key turning into an iron lock. She felt something drip onto her foot and looked down. Her hand was bleeding where he had kissed it. Small red drops stained the white carpet.

Elizabeth turned to Cromwell, still not understanding.

Cromwell stood before an easel with a blank canvas propped on it.

“Now then. Shall we get started on your portrait?” Cromwell asked, smiling. His fangs clearly visible.

.     .     .

So that’s it for this week. Hopefully I’ll have another one for you before the thirty-first. Until then, be sure to check out all the places I can be found online.

www.justinmkelly.com

Check me out on Facebook

On Twitter @JustinMKelly1

My Amazon page, in case you want to read more

On Goodreads

And on YouTube

I also post a copy of this blog on Tumblr

And, of course, please buy my debut short story, Blood Moon

 

 

Flash Fiction Friday Number 14: Spare

Okay guys. I’m finally back. My back still isn’t 100%, but I’m afraid it’s about as good as it’s going to get, at least without lost of strenuous work and possibly surgery. Anyway, I feel better than I have in quite awhile.

I’m declaring today the first day of Halloween season since today is the first day it’s really felt like Autumn. I know we still have another week until it’s officially Fall, but it seems everyone I know around here can feel the change of the season in their bones.

Today’s story isn’t a true flash piece since the upper limit of flash is 1000 words, and this one comes in at 1482, but I just couldn’t cut it down much more. Anyway, enjoy.

I call this one…

Spare

When my twin brother Dave died, it was like half of me had been cut out and discarded. We’d always had a special bond. I don’t mean we shared some sort of telepathy, although I could usually sense his emotions and he mine, even when we were nowhere near each other. I just mean that we were very close to each other.

Even after we moved out of our parents house and into our own separate lives, I usually ended my day with a call from him where we would catch each other up on our lives. At the end of every call, he would always sign off with “Talk to you tomorrow, Spare.”

That was his nickname for me. Spare. Since he was born first by a few minutes, he would always joke that he was the original, and I was just there to provide him with spare parts if he needed a transplant. If only I could have given him those spare parts after his accident, but there was no hope of saving him. He died from the car crash before they could even get him out of the wreck.

For months after, I wandered listlessly. I stopped going to work and started going to the bar. At first, my wife was as understanding as she could be. She knew how close Dave and I had been. She did her level best to be understanding, but after a few months, I could tell her patience was wearing thin. I just couldn’t find it in me to care. I think she was on the verge of kicking me out of the house when it happened.

I was sitting at Tiny’s, about to raise another shot of whiskey to my lips, when I heard a voice ask me if I hadn’t had enough. I looked around, the full shot glass grasped in my trembling hand. It wasn’t just any random voice. It was Dave.

I searched the bar with my eyes, hoping to see him even though I knew it wasn’t possible. We had buried Dave. I’d been the one to throw the first handful of dirt on his casket. There was no way Dave could be talking to me. Then I heard him again.

“Come on, Spare. What are you doing? You have a beautiful wife at home who loves you. Yet you’re sitting at a bar, spending her hard-earned money. For what? Are you trying to kill yourself so we can be together again? That’s just dumb. I’m here. You can put the drink down.”

I slowly realized that I wasn’t actually hearing him. He was in my head.

“Dave?” I asked.

“Shh. You don’t have to speak. Just think it and I’ll hear it. You don’t want people thinking you’re crazier than they already do.”

“But how are you here?”

“I don’t know. I just sensed you needed me and here I am. But the bad news is, I’m gonna need a little more practice at this. Just this little conversation is exhausting. I’m going to have to get some rest. You should too. Put the drink down, settle your tab, go home, and beg your wife for forgiveness. Oh, and don’t mention the fact that I’m in your head. Not even to her.”

“Okay Dave, goodnight.”

“Talk to you tomorrow, Spare.”

Hearing those words again, even in my head, gave me a chill. I never thought I’d hear them again. I quickly took his advice. Cindy was clearly dubious about my claims that I’d reform. Understandably, considering I was still very drunk. The next day, despite my hangover, I woke up early, put on my best suit, and set out to get my job back.

Unfortunately, the school had heard about my bender, and decided I shouldn’t be working with children.

As the weeks went by, I began to understand that word of my drinking had gotten around to the other schools in town as well. Nobody would hire me.

At least Dave was getting stronger. There were some days that I had to ask him to stop talking to me just so I could think.

One day, as I was resigning myself to flipping burgers while one of my former students lorded over me as my manager, Dave came up with a plan.

“Why don’t you look for something in the tech industry?”

“Because I was an English major. I don’t know anything about that stuff.”

“Yeah, but I do. Just let me take over during the interview. We’ll get the job. I promise.”

“Let you take over? How am I supposed to even do that?”

“Just let go. I’ll take care of the rest.”

“Okay, that’s great. But let’s say you get us the job. What am I supposed to do when I’m expected to actually do the work?”

“Right. You should probably let me take over then too. We’ll just call it a time-share. Hey, you’re getting the longer end of the stick. I do all the work, you get to enjoy the off time with our, I mean your, wife.”

His little slip should have raised a red flag. But he was my brother. I quickly agreed to his plan. Letting him take control took a little practice, but I got the hang of it pretty quickly. To tell the truth, it was kind of nice.  I could let my mind wander while Dave did all the heavy lifting. I even started working on that book I’d always planned to write. Only in my head, of course. I couldn’t actually write it while Dave was using my body.

True to his word, Dave got us the job. I was a little envious when we got our first check. It was enormous compared to my piddly teacher’s salary. Needless to say, even though Cindy was concerned about my sudden career change, that first check made her a believer.

It seemed we had the perfect arrangement. True to his word, Dave did all the work, then I took over in the evening to spend time with my wife. Then one morning everything changed. I was in the bathroom shaving when I felt Cindy’s arms wrap around me.

“Thank you.” She said.

“For what?”

“For last night. I was beginning to think you weren’t attracted to me anymore. Thank you for showing me I still turn you on.”

A pit settled into my stomach as I began to understand what had happened. The truth was, I had been avoiding sex with her because that was one thing I didn’t want to share with Dave. Apparently, Dave had other ideas.

“DAVE!” I screamed inside my head.

I could feel his reluctance to answer. Understandable, since I was trying to figure out a way to punch him without hurting myself.

“Look. I’m sorry bro.” He said, somewhat sheepishly. “It’s just that you were completely neglecting this beautiful woman.”

“You know damned well why I was avoiding sex.”

“What, because you didn’t want to share her? I’ve got news for you, we are sharing her. Besides, did you notice the look in her eyes every time you refused to touch her? You might have straightened up, but we were still losing her. I just did what needed to be done.”

“No. You did what you’ve always wanted to do.”

“What are you talking about?”

“You know exactly what I’m talking about. All our lives, you’ve gotten the best of everything. Better job, more money, nicer car. Cindy is the one thing that I had that you couldn’t. She chose me and it ate you up inside. Admit it.”

“Okay, fine. I admit it. You never deserved her. I deserved to have her, not you. You’re just the spare!”

I was stunned speechless. He’d never called me that like he really meant it. Now he was dead serious.

“What did you say?” I finally stammered.

“You heard me. You’re nothing. You’ve always been nothing. Just my spare.”

“That’s it. I’m telling her everything.” I said through angry tears.

“Go ahead.” He said, mockingly.

I opened my mouth to do just that. At least I tried to. I couldn’t make my mouth move. Dave started to chuckle. I tried to turn to her, to reach out to her. To do anything at all. All the while, Dave’s laughter rose.

“It’s okay, Spare. She never would have believed you anyway. Probably would have thrown you in the nuthouse where you belong. Unfortunately, I would’ve had to join you. I can’t have that. I’ve got big plans in store for the wife and I.”

Unable to do anything else, I began to scream inside our head, loud enough to make Dave wince.

“What’s wrong?” Cindy asked.

“Hmm? Oh, nothing. Just thinking about my brother.” I felt my mouth say.

“You still miss him. Don’t you?”

“I’m getting over it.” Dave said, as he smiled into the mirror and resumed shaving.

.     .     .

And there you have it. Like I said, I’ve declared this the official start of Halloween season, so I thought I’d kick it off with something at least moderately scary. I feel like this one needs to be made into a longer story. I’d like to do a much slower burn with Dave taking things over, but as long as it’s been since I’ve posted a story, I felt like I owed it to you to get something out.

Author’s edit: Even though this story was still written on Friday, it just wasn’t ready to be published until Saturday. Hey, give me a break. I’m still trying to get back on the horse.

Anyway, that’s it for today. I’ll see you on What’s Up Wednesday.

Remember to stalk me online.

www.justinmkelly.com

Check me out on Facebook

On Twitter @JustinMKelly1

My Amazon page, in case you want to read more

On Goodreads

And on YouTube

I also post a copy of this blog on Tumblr

And, of course, please buy my debut short story, Blood Moon

Flash Fiction Friday Number 13: Lucky Day

Hey guys. Sorry for being a day late this week. This being the thirteenth installment of Flash Fitction Friday, I wanted to do something on the theme of luck. Of course the first thing I thought of when I thought of luck was gambling. Unfortunately, I haven’t spent much time in casinos, so this one took a little more research than usual. Anyway, I call this one…

Lucky Day

“Let it Ride!” He shouted once again, earning him cheers from the crowd gathered around to watch and an eye roll from the boxman.

Jake couldn’t believe his luck. Not that he didn’t believe in it. He’d had more than his fair share. It was just that in his case, it was usually bad.

Jake shook the dice and let them roll from his fingers. He didn’t even bother to look as they bounced along the green felt.

“Seven.” Called the stickman, almost sounding bored.

He hadn’t thought much of it when he’d put a dollar in the old lady’s cup that morning. Just trying to do what he could to help. He’d even tried to wave away the crumpled little card she’d handed him in return, but something in her eyes had made him take the well-used fortune card. ‘It’s your lucky day.’ The faded ink promised.

“Yeah, thanks.” He’d said hollowly. Jake hadn’t had a truly lucky day in his entire life.

Jake made no move to retrieve his growing pile of chips. The stickman sighed and pushed the dice back to him. He was just about to throw them when the pit boss grabbed his arm. Jake smiled as they weighed and measured the dice yet again. He laughed as one of the Casino goons patted him down looking for any sort of cheating device. Of course, he found none.

Even after verifying the dice were legit, the pit boss produced a fresh set and slapped them into Jake’s hand with a wicked smile as the crowd jeered. Jake returned it with his own heartfelt one as he turned his back to the table and tossed the fresh dice over his shoulder.

“Eleven.” The stickman yelled.

The pit boss turned visibly red. Jake knew he was pressing his luck. Not so much with the dice, he knew his luck was solid there. The casino’s patience, however, was probably running out. Looking at his towering stack of chips, Jake knew he must be close to breaking the bank.

“Come on, Jake. Don’t you think you’ve won enough?” His friend Eddie asked, looking nervously at the pit boss who was now accompanied by three goons.

“Just a couple more rolls, then I’ll stop. I promise. It’s just nice to know what it’s like to be lucky for once.”

“I really think…” Eddie started.

“Okay, fine. Just one more, then I’m done.” He raised his voice so the crowd could hear. “Okay folks, last roll. All or nothing.”

The crowd cheered. Jake did a final little dance with the dice, spun around and threw them. He smiled as they came to a rest, sure of his victory.

“Snakeeyes. Craps!” Shouted the stickman.

Jake stood in stunned silence, trying to process what was happening as the stickman began raking in Jake’s towering pile of chips and the crowd melted away, including the gorgeous blonde who had been at his shoulder all night. He took the card out of his pocket and looked at it. ‘Not all that glitters is gold.’ It now read. He grabbed Eddie by the shoulder.

“What time is it?” Jake demanded.

Eddie fumbled with his phone for a moment.

“Just past midnight.”

Jake couldn’t help but laugh. Lady luck was sure as hell punctual.

“I guess that’s why they don’t have clocks in casinos.” Jake chuckled.

“Man Jake. All that money, just gone like that. You could have been rich. I mean, I guess technically you were rich for a little while. Now it’s all gone.”

“Eddie, I’m unlucky, not an idiot.” Jake said, reaching into his pocket and producing a handful of orange chips, each worth a thousand dollars. He flipped one to Eddie. “Come on. Let’s go cash out.”

.     .     .

So that’s it for this week. I wish it weren’t the case, but I can definitely relate to our protagonist.

I’ll see you again next Wednesday with another edition of What’s Up Wednesday. I still want to start answering your questions, so please send them to me at any of these places.

www.justinmkelly.com

Check me out on Facebook

On Twitter @JustinMKelly1

My Amazon page, in case you want to read more

On Goodreads

And on YouTube

I also post a copy of this blog on Tumblr

And, of course, please buy my debut short story, Blood Moon .

Flash Fiction Friday Number 12: The Unwanted

Hey guys. Welcome to another edition of Flash Fiction Friday.

This week’s offering is something a little different. I’ve never written much in the way of westerns. With the exception of the Lonesome Dove series, I haven’t even read much. Still, I thought I’d challenge myself by writing a story in an unfamiliar genre. So, without further ado, I call this one…

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The Unwanted

The flaming twig briefly illuminated the bounty hunter’s craggy face as he used it to light his cigarette. Once again the bound figure sitting across the fire from him begged for his freedom.

“Please, you don’t have to do this. My family has money. I can pay you whatever you want.”

“You know what it says on your wanted poster?”

“How the hell should I know? I didn’t even know I was wanted ’til you showed up and arrested me. You could have at least waited and let me get my money’s worth from that girl.”

“It says dead or alive.” The bounty hunter said, ignoring his captive’s complaint.

“So?” The prisoner said, sulking.

“So if you don’t shut up, I may just decide to take the quieter option.”

The prisoner stayed quiet for about a minute before he resumed his begging.

“I ain’t even done nothin’ wrong.”

“Ain’t for me to decide. That’s the jury’s job.”

“I don’t stand no kind of chance with a jury. Soon as they find out I rode with them boys, even for a little bit, they’re gonna’ be callin’ for my head.”

“Then I reckon you made your bed when you started ridin’ with ’em.”

“Hell, I didn’t know who they was at the time. Once I figured it out, I got away soon as I could.”

“Well, maybe if you tell the jury that, they’ll let you go if you testify against ’em.”

“Ain’t no way I’m doin’ that. The jury might hang me, but that ain’t nothin’ compared to what they’ll do to me.”

The sound of approaching hoofbeats drifted across the prairie and the prisoner jumped up and tried to run. The bounty hunter yanked on the rope attached to his legs and he fell on his face in the dirt.

“Now where do you think you’re goin’?”

“Please. You gotta’ let me go. That’s them comin’ for me. I’d know the sound of that gimpy horse of Dave’s anywhere.”

“You sure about that kid?” The bounty hunter asked as he stood up and brushed the dust from his trousers. Without waiting for an answer, he checked the loads in his pistol.

“Yes! Let me go or they’ll kill me.”

“Just lay there in the dirt and let me take care of this.” The bounty hunter said, holstering his pistol.

As he did, three figures on horseback emerged from the darkness. Their faces half-covered with black handkerchiefs turned brown with dust..

“Evening boys.” The bounty hunter said. “Coffee’s fresh if you want a cup.”

“We ain’t here for coffee, Old Man.”

“Well then, I don’t know what else I might be able to help you with.”

“We’re here for him.” The leader said, pointing to the whimpering lump on the ground.”

“‘Fraid he ain’t for sale.”

“I didn’t say nothin’ about buying him. We’re just gonna take him.”

“Well, son. I got a bit of a problem with that.”

“I don’t give a da…” The outlaw started to yell before he was cut off by three loud gunshots followed by three thuds as the outlaws fell from thier mounts.

The prisoner slowly looked up from the dirt only to see the bounty hunter standing there with his pistol still smoking in his hand. As he watched, the old man, suddenly not looking so old any more, holstered his pistol and drew his huge Bowie knife. He turned toward his prisoner.

“Well, I guess I don’t need you anymore.” The bounty hunter said menacingly.

“No. Please. I promise I won’t talk no more. Take me in. I’ll go happily.”

The bounty hunter leaned in low with the knife. The prisoner tensed, waiting for the killing blow. Instead, he suddenly felt his hands and feet free. He lay there in the dirt, trying to process what had happened. By the time he realized he was being set free and had gotten to his feet, the bounty hunter had tied the dead outlaws to the backs of two of their mounts. He held the reins of the third, Dave’s gimpy nag, out to the prisoner. The prisoner gave him a questioning look.

“You’d best get on out of here.” The bounty hunter said.

“You mean you’re not gonna’ take me in?”

“For what? You never was wanted for anything but to give testimony on these three. I don’t guess they’ll need you for that no more.” The old man chuckled.

“But then why… You were using me for bait.”

“Sorry ’bout that.” The old man said, flipping him a silver dollar. “The next girl’s on me.”

“You son of a…”

“Don’t finish that sentence, boy. I could still bring you in and say I caught you ridin’ with ’em. Now git.”

The man gave the bounty hunter one last dirty look before mounting Dave’s old horse and riding for town.

So that’s it. Like I said, I’ve never done a western before. How did I do? Let me know in the comments, or hit me up on my social pages.

www.justinmkelly.com

Check me out on Facebook

On Twitter @JustinMKelly1

My Amazon page, in case you want to read more

On Goodreads

And on YouTube

I also post a copy of this blog on Tumblr

 

Flash Fiction Friday Number 11: Haunted

Hey guys. Welcome to another Flash Fiction Friday. I don’t really have much to say in the way of prologue this week, so let’s just get to it, shall we? I call this one, Haunted.

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Haunted

I squeezed my already closed eyes even tighter, doing my best impersonation of a sleeping human being. I knew it wouldn’t work, but I at least had to try.

“Hey. Are you awake?” He asked, his whisper nearly a hiss.

I felt his cold, clammy hand on the back of my neck and unsuccessfully tried to suppress a shudder. It wasn’t that I was afraid. I just knew how hard the residue left by his touch would be to clean off.

He wasn’t a bad sort, for a ghost. In fact, other than a little moaning in the night and the occasional rattling of chains, he was a nearly perfect roommate. Sure, the noises in the night took some getting used to and I had to clean up the occasional ectoplasm stain, but I never had to worry about my house being broken into when I was away and he never ate my food. Or any, for that matter. Besides, I’d known the house was haunted when I signed the lease. How else was someone supposed to get a place in the heart of the city on my salary?

Still, I’d thought we’d gotten past the whole waking me in the middle of the night thing.

“Mortal. Please wake up.”

“I told you, my name is Jason, and I have to work in the morning.” I said into the pillow.

“But you have to do something.”

“All I have to do is get old and die. Then I can stay up all night with you and we can have a chain rattling party, or whatever you guys like to do, but as long as I need money to eat and pay rent, I need my job. So let me sleep.”

“Can… can I at least sleep with you?”

“What? No! You’d get your slime all over my sheets and I’d never get it out.”

“But I’m scared!”

This gave me pause. I’d heard him moan before, but never with this particular pleading tone. I rolled over and sat up.

“What could you, a ghost who has been dead for years, possibly have to be afraid of?” I asked, looking him in the sockets where his eyes should have been.

He lifted a slightly glowing hand and pointed to my bedroom door.

“Him.” Was all he said.

I looked toward the door and saw, in the deep darkness beyond the jamb, a pair of glowing red eyes staring back at me.

 

And that’s it for this week. Hopefully I’ll have another one for you next Friday.

Until then, be sure to stalk me online.

www.justinmkelly.com

Check me out on Facebook

On Twitter @JustinMKelly1

My Amazon page, in case you want to read more

On Goodreads

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I also post a copy of this blog on Tumblr

Flash Fiction Friday Number 9: The Problem

Okay folks. I’m back with another flash fiction Friday. Today’s story is a little different. It’s not sci-fi, or horror. It’s just two people sitting down for a drink and trying to catch up. Before we start, I would like to say that I wish I had a little more time to work on this one and I will probably refine it, but here it is in all its raw glory. I call it…

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The Problem

Todd sat across the table from her, unsure of what to say. He never had this kind of trouble talking to women. Not any more at least. Then again, she wasn’t just any woman. This was Sabrina. This was the girl he’d pined for night after night back in high-school. This was the girl who’d never noticed him back then. At least he’d thought she hadn’t noticed him. Which is why it had been so strange when he’d heard her voice calling to him as he’d walked down the street. Even after all this time, he would recognize her voice anywhere.

He raised his glass of scotch to his lips, the ice tinkling against the glass from his shaking hand.

“So how have you been?” She asked.

“Oh, you know. Not bad. My company’s really starting to take off.”

Sabrina laughed loudly and he immediately felt like an idiot. Saying his company was taking off was like saying the bible was a reasonably popular book. In fact, he was seriously considering an offer to sell his company which would make him the world’s youngest billionaire.

“I had the biggest crush on you back in school.” He blurted, regretting it instantly.

“You? Really? I never would have guessed.”

“You knew?” He said, shocked.

“Everybody knew. It’s not like you actually needed my science notes.”

“Why didn’t you ever say anything?”

“Why didn’t you?” She countered.

Todd found himself at a loss for words. There were dozens of reasons that he couldn’t bring himself to voice. Finally, he picked the truest one.

“Because I never would have stood a chance with you.”

“What makes you think that?”

“I was just a science geek. You were pretty and popular.” He said, realizing how pathetic that made him sound.

“And yet you asked me out today. What’s changed? Am I not pretty any more?” She asked, tossing her long blonde hair teasingly.

“No. I mean you’re gorgeous.”

“So what’s changed?”

“I wasn’t rich back then.”

He’d meant it as a joke, but immediately regretted it, realizing how it sounded. She stared back at him as if he’d slapped her. After a long silence, she stood up from her chair.

“No. Please. Don’t go. I didn’t mean it like that.”

“I’m not some gold digger. As a matter of fact, your money couldn’t interest me less. I liked you because you were a genuinely nice guy. Do you want to know the reason we never went out? Because you never asked.” She said, her voice trembling like she was on the verge of tears.

Her speech finished, she turned and was gone.

Todd sat back still unsure what had just happened. There were so many things to process. Had she really liked him? Or had she just said that to hurt him after he had suggested she was after his money?

Todd felt the strange urge to put the retainer he hadn’t worn in years into his mouth. He was suddenly the lonely nerd he had been back in school.

The waiter appeared at his elbow with a fresh glass of scotch.

“I didn’t order this.” He said, absently.

“No sir. The lady bought it for you before she left. She asked me to serve it on this napkin.” The waiter said, placing the glass of very expensive whiskey in front of him and disappearing.

Todd picked up the glass of liquid amber and downed half of it, enjoying the mellow burn as it made its way down his throat and spread through his chest and stomach out to his limbs, bathing him in a warm glow.

It was then that he realized the waiter had said something odd about the napkin. He grabbed it and stared at it.

Written on the thin paper was a fairly complex looking equation along with the words, “Call me when you figure this out.”

“Smart. I forgot that. She’s smart too.” Todd said, pulling out his expensive fountain pen and getting to work.

 

 

Like I said, it’s still a little rough. I’d like to play a little more with the characters.

I would like to say that some inspiration for this story was taken from my own life. No, I’m not a billionaire. Nor am I a brilliant math geek. I was however, very shy when it came to girls. Since high-school, I have discovered that several girls I thought I didn’t have a shot with would have said yes if I had just mustered up the courage to ask them out.

Of course I didn’t find any of this out until it was way too late. Oh well, good to know for the next life, I suppose.

Anyway, that’s about it for today. I may see you on Monday, but it all depends if I finish the book I’m currently reading by then.

Your questions and comments are always welcome. If there’s a topic you’d like to see me address in my blog or my vlog, send me a message at any of these sites.

www.justinmkelly.com

Check me out on Facebook

On Twitter @JustinMKelly1

My Amazon page, in case you want to read more

On Goodreads

And on YouTube

I also post a copy of this blog on Tumblr

Don’t forget, I post Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Monday’s are a rundown of what I’m reading. Wednesday’s are my general writing blog, and of course, there’s Flash Fiction Friday.

Have a great weekend and I’ll see you on Monday.