It was perhaps my eighth birthday when it all started. It’s hard to recall from this far in the future. My grandfather, a gentle old man, bought me a doll to play with and together we sat around a small cake with only four candles upon the top. They weren’t the fancy candles that you see on all the cakes now a days. We didn’t have the money for such fanciful things when I was a kid. No, they were just small nubs of candles that were nearing the end of their usefulness.
I remember one of them was actually rather pretty. It was deep red color that my grandfather told me he had used to use on his ‘date nights’ with grandma. I had blown it out like the others, but when he moved to throw the small thing away I had pleaded with him to let me keep it. He assented in the end but made me promise not to light it when he wasn’t around for fear I might burn myself. I had agreed wholeheartedly and stowed the small thing away.
After a long day of celebrating with him I went to my room to prepare for bed.…
The chairs were the old school folding kind, brown metal with tan cushions that were almost comfortable. They were usually folded and stacked neatly against the wall in the basement of the church on Dionin street. Three times a week they were unfolded and made into a circle: once for bible book club on Monday afternoons, another time for prayer group on Tuesday mornings, and then every Friday night for meetings.
Some Fridays, the circle could get up to twenty members. Most weeks it was half that. Tonight was less. Langston didn’t really care. He just needed a meeting.
It had been six years since the last time he got high. It didn’t matter. His life was a constant series of triggers. Whenever he felt like pulling one, he would end up here, in this circle, or one just like it, telling strangers he occasionally recognized explicit details of how he threw away his life.
The ritualistic aspect of it was important. The circle was important. The repetition was important.
They joke about how people get addicted to meetings instead of drugs. Langston didn’t mind the trade off. At least meetings didn’t send you to the emergency room with abscesses. Or into jail for the weekend, sick and detoxing.…
The scene: An idyllic houshold, with no peculiarities. The cast: A traditional nuclear family, living caricatures from a Norman Rockwell piece. The parents make small talk as they all eat a breakfast of bacon and eggs. The children hurriedly scarf down the meal, eager for school. The mother picks up the dishes and together they walk out the door to begin the day. Their footsteps make no noise as they walk on the black dirt where grass grew once upon a time. The father takes a whiff of the toxic, poisonous air and declares it is a fine day as he waves goodbye to his family and begins the trek to work.
The brown and grey pollution that covers the sky shields the land from the scorching sun. The father whistles a tune as he carefully manuvers around the corpses and trash that litter the road. He decides to take the long way since there is yet another traffic jam made up of destroyed cars and fallen buildings.
“Morning, Jim.” He says to no one in particular as he steps into the decrepit office, with holes in the celing and decomposing bodies at the desks.
“Another day another dollar, eh?” He says for the 5,789th time to his cubicle neighbor.…
This isn’t actually my story. It was related to me, a while ago, by an elderly gentleman that frequented a convenience store I worked at. I think back to that night where I followed him to the junkyard, and my hair still stands, along with that quiver of gooseflesh that has nothing to do with the temperature.
I worked in a relatively quiet part of the city, out on the edge, and we had little to fear from crime. The job didn’t pay well, but what little I got helped to pay some of the bills for college and the nightly customers were few and far between – giving me more than enough time to do some reading or languish on the internet.
Now, you think that we don’t notice people when we’re behind the till. We do. We just don’t give a shit, mostly. We can tell when we should card someone; or that desperate, almost slimy, look of lust on the face of a young man buying condoms at eleven in the evening. Then there was the old man. He showed up, every Friday, like clockwork. He wore a flannel shirt with the rolled up sleeves that had seen one wash too many and he counted out his change with the reluctance of one used to thrift.…
There is a village somewhere in England that has not been inhabited for over twenty years. It has long since been forgotten off of most maps, and only has one road in and out of it. If you manage to find it, it will seem a peaceful enough place, the derelict buildings being overgrown and nature taking back the land for herself.
However, somewhere within the village is a vending machine which still has power. It will still have its original look and sell ordinary brands of drink (though with 20 year old packaging). The one at the bottom will be marked “E.” Pay only in 10p pieces to buy this drink.
Before drinking the mysterious beverage, peer inside the can to check its color. Do not try to pour some out. It will refuse to leave the can despite any vigorous shaking you may attempt. If it is green in color, drink heartily, as it will give you an unnaturally long lifespan and good luck in everything you do.
If it is red, however, drinking it will spread a horrific pestilence over you, claiming one of your senses every ten years after the date that you first imbibed.…
I’d like to tell you a disturbing story I heard from people I know or have met.
I was living in the southern part of Sydney four years ago in a big house. One day, I advertised to share the house so I could save some money. The next day, a young Indian-looking guy around thirty came to the house. However, he wanted to leave quickly after I showed him the spare room.
I wanted to know what he thought about sharing the house with me. He said he liked the house, but didn’t want to move in because of the cat. On the way out, I simply asked him if he knew what was really going on in the world. There wasn’t really much reason for it. I just wanted to chat a little.
He replied, “Are you talking about conspiracies?” When I said yes, he looked up at the four corners of the room and asked if there was a bug of any kind. I told him I didn’t think so. Afterward, he started to whisper with a very serious face.
“I know everything about conspiracies. I can even write my own book or create my own website just for all the information I know.…
We were told to stay clear of the well. Most of the time, we did. No one knew why, and no one cared. Down Innsmote Road, the long abandoned row of crumbling houses on the way to school, it lay beneath the shade of a droopy branched willow, in front of the old Leibowitz house. The house itself had fallen down years ago. The expansive section was now consumed in thick weeds and wild flowers, but we seldom played there. We didn’t like being amongst the derelict homes and the decaying foundations, and I would run past the well whenever I had to pass it alone. The footpath sloped dangerously close to the wells bare opening, itself hidden in long grass. Where the light touched the top most part of the gaping pit, it’s mossy brick inner surface was just visible. Below that, there was only darkness.
Me and Henry walked down Innsmote Road every day after school. Our friendship was an unlikely one. Henry came from a poor town down south. His family name was neither prominent nor wealthy, and it was new in a very old city. Raised as an only child by his mother, Henry had not had a fair life for such a nice kid.…
“Ladies and gentleman, members of the Board, I have two wonders to share with you tonight. First, allow me to present the next evolutionary milestone of our species – immortality.” Ever for theatrics, Dr. Monroe says this with arms outstretched, his burgundy dress coat flowing with every gesture.
There’s a collective gasp from the audience when the curtain drops and the pale, topless form of a seated man makes his appearance. Shackles pin his wrists to the arms of the chair; his face eerily mirrors the confusion of the onlookers.
“This man – a thief, a murderer and admitted pox to our society has generously offered to help demonstrate the latest breakthrough in medicine.” He pauses for effect, before removing a small, decorative vial from his belt. “This! This was born of my research into Xenotransplantation. I’m sure you must remember Sir Winston?”
They did. They would never forget last year’s unveiling of a genderless human body; naked and draped callously on the floor. Nor the drooping eyes of the basset hound’s head that had surgically replaced the original. For hours they’d watched with abated breath while the monstrosity lapped up water from a dish, only for it to seep freely through stitches at its throat; the fingers and toes twitching as if deciding whether to obey their new master.…
I live in a small town in upstate South Carolina. Nothing much happens here, so it seems with every story’s beginning. Nevertheless, it’s normal… right? I mean, the most spectacular thing that’s ever happened here was probably when there was a new stop sign put up near Deerfield, or perhaps after the Masons started up a new church. Not much I guess. My neighbourhood is pretty quiet. I guess it’s because there was no other kids around but me. I don’t really mind it though, besides, I’m a teenager now. Anyhow, enough about me.
There’s an old woman across the street from us. Her name is Susan. What a simple name, don’t you think? She’s a sweet lady though, sometimes she’ll call our home phone and happily chitchat with my mom about random things. Also, every once in a while she’ll come by and leave cookies or homemade caramels on our front porch in return for my dad mowing her lawn. We could never seem to be home when she dropped them off though. When we asked her about it, Susan would always say she’d rung the doorbell but we weren’t home. Even so, the baked goods kept coming. Until one day they just stopped.…
Something occurred to me today:
If there is really is something that could be called “the soul”, and it was immortal, then that would mean that you could live…forever.
Limitless possibilities come from this point, and it really makes me think: did I do the right thing in my life?
Were all the things I did worth it, the things that those people hate me for?
I remind myself that it was for the betterment of my people, and my family.
Though as I face my death, I have the impending anxiety that I will burn in hell…I mustn’t be so hard on myself. I tell myself that it will all pay off in the end, that my cause was not for nothing.
I stare at your dead body now, Eva. It sits on the floor, motionless. Your eyes see nothing. Your skin is slowly turning white as I watch you, all the normalcy in it diminishing. I can tell that the pill has done its job. I have closed your eyes for you, so that you can sleep in peace.
I love you so much, Eva. I will see you soon.
-Adolf Hitler’s suicide note, dated 1945. Found by an American medic, was recorded, then burned.…