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Eight

A compilation of short stories

By P. J. Daniels

Copyright 2019 P. J. Daniels

Smashwords Edition



Smashwords Edition, License Notes

This eBook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This eBook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to your favorite eBook retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.



TABLE OF CONTENTS

A GRIM VIEW

HERE I LAY

LUCK

A HOME TO MANY

AN OPEN MIND

WHEN STORIES SPEAK

I CAN SEE YOU

LIFE IN A BLINK







A GRIM VIEW



I can never die. I can not stress this fact enough. I am endless, unable to pass to the next world. I am a true immortal. The universe will constantly change shape around me, but I will remain; unfazed.

My enemies don't seem to understand this concept. They continue to harass me, ignoring the obvious fact that violence results in their deaths. Such a hassle.

I am the subject of an experiment by an old unbound Jinn. Some call them granters of wishes, but wish granters are just the Jinn weak enough to be bound by the magic of sorcerers.

I happened to stumble upon a true Jinn; a free Jinn. At the time, I was ignorant to the truth of their power. I thought little of making a wish, I never imagined that he would do as he pleased with my life.

I was tired of this world, I wanted to pass to the next. However, I had asked the wrong creature for such a thing. Out of spite, he locked me in this one, to torture me for all eternity. What a terrible creature.

I grant death to mortals, whether they ask or not. I have grown both bored and annoyed, an interesting mixture of emotions. I watch the constant waves of death around me, but I cannot see what lies beyond.

I hear it is a wonderful place; the next life I mean. I have no way of knowing for certain, but I have heard of stories of powerful magic users seeing glimpses into it. The only way to truly reach it is through death.

Yet, despite knowledge of the next, so many creatures long to stay in this world for as long as they can. I do not understand their obsession. If the next is so great, why stay here?

Perhaps I have become bitter in my old age. Perhaps my view is tainted by how I no longer feel human. Pain means nothing to me. It is an illusion, a tease, suggesting that death is near. I can be ripped to the bone, shredded of all flesh and I would still continue on. Sometimes I wish I would simply stay that way, but I heal from all, given enough time.

I am alive, but I am not living; I am stuck somewhere between, unable to truly be either.

What a grim existence.



THE END





HERE I LAY



Here I lay, broken and beaten. A constant flow spews from the gash across my chest, telling the world that I do, in fact, have a heart behind this suit of black steel. Despite the fact that I lay on my back, I still hold my sword tight, as if it will somehow protect me from the judgment of the gods.

I am not a holy man. My days of good are nothing more than faded memories of childhood. It is quite amusing actually, come to think of it. I have become the very man told of in stories to children; the corrupt black knight that everyone fears. I was a man of pure evil that needed to be defeated in glorious combat. Well, defeated I was, but glorious it was not.

My name will not grace the books of history; I’ll be lucky to be spoken of for the next ten years. Yes, I have made a name for myself, but nobody wants to tell the story of a villain. If I am mentioned, it will be only as a brief side note on the list of accomplishments by the man who defeated me.

History is not kind to those like me. All the people want to hear about are the heroes’ accomplishments, not the villains. You won’t see a story where the villain is victorious. It goes against what people want to hear, so no one dare write it.

I would write it, were I not mortally wounded, and moments from meeting the gods. Perhaps the gods will grant me favour for my idea and allow my story to be told. Perhaps they will take kindly to a lost soul, who has given his life in pursuit of a goal.

Yes, I had a goal, like any other man has; but my goal will never see fruition. A dead man can accomplish nothing. And no one cares about the goal of an evil man. My goal was not evil in itself, but it was the way I pursued it that made me evil. I did what I deemed necessary to get what I wanted, then was struck down by a man of stronger morals.

I was labelled as an evil man because of my choices in life. I was labelled because the path I took was not the way of the gods. I was labelled because I didn’t bow, pray, or give everything I had for others. I took care of myself above all, and for that I was slain.

That doesn’t matter now, for after I close my eyes for the last time, I will not care about the judgment that has been given to me. My goals, left unfinished, will eventually be picked up by another man like myself. For the world needs to be balanced in that regard. How can one determine who the hero is without a villain? 

Here I lay, broken and beaten. I have done my part in life; now it is time to take my leave. My heart slows to a stop, and I smile; a smile of true joy. Too bad no one will ever know why.



THE END





LUCK



He was stunned. His whole life, his every day had always played to the tune of bad luck. Nothing ever went his way; until today. Mark was a 32-year-old man, living alone in a dirty old apartment. He couldn't keep friends. He ate alone; he watched the same T.V. shows every night. Despite his horrible luck he insisted on spending his money on lotteries and scratch cards. He didn’t believe in dreams coming true. Dreams were fairy tales meant only for the pages of children’s' books. He insisted on putting his money into something that he knew relied on luck to win. Perhaps, deep down, he wanted to believe his luck could change. He tried every good luck charm he could think of. But still, nothing could sway the pattern. He was hopeless, until one day, when he was looking at trinkets at a stand in a market place; an old woman approached him.

"Looking for something specific?" she crackled, looking at him intently.

"Just browsing" he responded in reflex.

He was used to the inquiries into his search. He spent allot of his time in the marketplace, looking for charms. This old woman no doubt noticed his obsessive search for such charms. That didn't mean he was about to admit it.

"Those won't help you" she stated plainly, grabbing Mark's attention. "Those things contain no actual power." He looked at her, interest spiked.

"And what would?" he responded, feeling his heartbeat increase in excitement.

"Contain power?" she said with a short low chuckle, "Come with me." She turned around and started to walk.

He followed eagerly, as if tied to an invisible leash. They entered a nearby building via a door that said, ‘employees only.’ They made many turns, walked down a flight of stairs and stopped at a Grey, metal door. She knocked on the door and a slit opened at eye level. The slit closed quickly, then the door opened with a loud creek. They made their way inside and the heavy door closed behind them. She moved fast for an old woman. They walked down a long, empty hall, with many hanging lights, and entered another room.

It was lit by candles only, and sitting by the far wall, on what appeared to be a wooden throne, was a large dark-skinned man in a brown, hooded robe that covered his eyes. In his left hand was a metal staff of sorts; made of, what looked like, twisted steel.

"You seek real power," he stated in a deep strong voice.

"Actually, I'm just trying to improve my luck," he replied, looking around the room nervously. The man laughed, but suddenly stopped.

"Do you believe luck is real?" he asked slowly.

Mark licked his dry lips and eyed the staff in the man's hand. He didn't know who these people were, but he didn't think he wanted to. The man on the throne may have had his eyes covered, but he could feel his stare.

"Yes," he replied simply, wanting the fear in his veins to disappear.

"Do you believe you can change it?" the man asked, gesturing with the staff.

Mark was nodding before he even had time to think about it. The man smiled.

"Good, you are mouldable." His smile disappeared.

"Are you ready for a change Mark?" His staff pointed at Mark.

"How do you know—," he started to say, but suddenly felt too weak to stand; so, he collapsed.

#

The moment he hit the floor his eyes flew open and he sat up in bed.

"It was only a dream," he said to himself before getting up and making his way to the kitchen for breakfast.

After pouring himself a bowl of cereal he grabbed the lottery ticket that was stuck to the fridge and sat down on his older then vintage couch. He grabbed the remote that sat beside him on the faded green cushion to his left. He consumed his cereal while waiting for the lottery numbers to be called.

He couldn't get the dream out of his head. It chewed away at him like a dog on its bone. His thoughts were interrupted as he noticed that it was time. He picked up his ticket and listened to the numbers count away.

He was stunned. He couldn't believe what he was seeing. The numbers on the screen were a clone of his card. He thought back to the dream; had it been real? He didn't know, but either way, it looked like his luck had made a sudden reversal. His phone rang and he stared it down before answering.

"Hello Mark," said a crackly old voice. "How are you feeling this morning?" she said as he tried to identify the voice.

"Who is this?" he replied.

"You know who I am." she responded as he turned pale. She was the woman from his dream.

He was quickly starting to think that his dream was something other than a dream.

"What do you want?" he asked nervously, dreading the answer.

"We already have what we want," she said slowly, "you." He sat up straight, fear striking him hard.

"What do you mean me?" A knock at the door startled him.

"Answer it," she said, and then hung up.

He set the phone down and stood up, eyes glued to the solid wood door. He made his way to the door hesitantly. There was another knock. He wiped the sweat off of his forehead before opening it. The last thing he saw was a staff; his world went black.

Mark opened his eyes; he let them focus as he realized he was lying on his back on the floor.

"This is getting old," he said to himself.

"It wasn't me this time," a deep voice said from his couch, "You fainted."

The man with the staff sat on his couch, eyes still covered.

"You are more mouldable than previously thought," he continued. "We have a proposition for you." he said, his head still pointing straight ahead.

Mark stood, wiping off the dust on his back. He no longer feared this robed man with a staff; he was merely fascinated by him now.

"We want you to work for us," he continued, not waiting for Mark's response.

"I thought you already owned me," he responded. “That's what that old woman said.” The man smiled.

"Amazing," he said. "You already get glimpses."

Mark stared at him like he was crazy.

'Who is this nut?' He thought.

"What do I get if I work for you?" Mark asked.

"We will give you something that no man is willing, or capable of owning."

"And what would this be?" he asked but was interrupted by the phone ringing. He picked it up.

"You made a wise choice Mark," said a deep voice that shouldn't be on the phone. He hung up in a hurry; thoroughly freaked out. He looked at the man on the couch, then at the phone.

'This isn't possible,' he thought.

"Wrong number?" he asked Mark, in his slow deep voice. Mark looked at the phone for a moment, and then spoke.

"Uh, yes, it was a wrong number." He tried his best to keep the panic out his voice.

He looked at the phone again, feeling a strong urge to pick it up. He couldn't explain why. He gave in and in a quick motion the coolness of the receiver was pressed against his ear. He suddenly knew why he did it; his phone was dead. He gripped the table for balance.

'Now would be an appropriate time to wake up,' he thought, but somehow knew he wouldn't.

"I accept your deal." he stated. The man smiled, and then stood, facing him.

"You made a wise choice Mark." he said. "Are you ready for a change?"

He removed his hood and Mark finally understood everything that had happen recently.

"Yes," he said, but for the first time in his life, he knew it was a good thing.



THE END





A HOME TO MANY



William was not looking forward to walking through the door as he approached his home. The dark red brick of his house was reminiscent of blood in the damp foggy air, and the tall windows looked liked menacing eyes staring at him. The double doors appeared before him as a mouth with a deep brown mustache archway above it. The house swallowed him as he entered.

Once inside he hung his red raincoat on a hook and leaned his closed black umbrella against the wall by the door. With his boots removed and his soft grey slippers on, he proceeded to the kitchen to prepare himself a sandwich. After setting the wanted ingredients on the counter, he peered at his watch. He had two hours to prepare; his guests were always on time.

He wiped the counter to a glistening white after eating his snack and returning every item to its proper place in the fridge. The kitchen floor was brushed vigorously with a broom before a mop made its black and white checkered tiles glisten. Next was the living room. He peered at his watch again; one hour to go.

The vacuum drained the dull grey rug of its unwanted particles; not one dust mite had a home in this house. With his furniture arranged and a bottle of Port on the coffee table, with glasses, he was ready for his guests. Just in time too, for he heard a knock at the door.

The house swallowed its second meal of the day and William closed its mouth behind him. The man that entered was much older then himself, not that his own age was below the 60s, but his skin looked as if it were about to fall off. He wore a white curly mustache on his pale withered face and held a black cane in his right hand that had a metal stud at the bottom that ‘clicked’ on solid ground. He wore a traditional tuxedo and a black top hat to finish the look.

Upon sitting in a high backed, cushioned, red chair he helped himself to a glass of Port from the coffee table in front of him. William heard another knock.

Two more guests entered the well-lit room and hung their coats on the many hooks available. One was a middle-aged man dressed in a grey stripped suit; the other was an artistically shaped blonde of no more then 20, dressed in a tight red full body dress, with an open back.

It became quickly apparent though that the man with her had a short invisible leash attached to him that she tugged at frequently. They took a seat on the couch opposite to the older man.

It wasn’t long before conversation filled the room, between the older man and the younger man, the woman and the younger man, and the older man and the woman. William stood on the soft rug, staring into the fireplace; he awaited the final guest.

A firm set of three knocks startled William out of a daydream; he quickly made his way to the door. Upon opening it he was greeted by a black hooded figure. His face and hands were well hidden in the shadows of the robe he wore.

“Hello again William,” he said in a thin whispery voice, as he made his way past him.

With the door closed and the guests all present William felt ready to make his announcement.

“I went to a doctor today,” he said suddenly; all heads turned sharply towards him.

“A doctor?” Spoke the woman in a sarcastic tone.

“You don’t believe in their modern sorcery, do you William?” Spoke the older man, clearly unimpressed with Williams’ decision.

“You are better without doctors,” were the words that floated from the still hooded man without a visible face.

“Why would you go to a doctor? What purpose does that serve?” added the younger man.

William continued as if no one had spoken. “The doctor suggested I start taking some medication.”

“That won’t help you William,” spoke the hooded man.

“You’re not considering it…are you?” Came from the mouth of the woman.

“He wouldn’t, he doesn’t believe in medication,” said the woman’s consort.

“It’s sorcery,” snapped the older man before taking another sip of Port.

William didn’t answer, he simply removed a small plastic container from his pocket that had a white lid; everyone’s face fell.

“I think it’s time for you all to leave now,” said William, almost to himself. He took the lid off and poured a single white pill into his palm.

Everyone’s face turned to horror; the younger man leapt at him. He was too slow; the pill was swallowed before he could get there. The room spun.

When he opened his eyes, it was morning. He was lying on the carpet by an extinguished fireplace. He was alone.

He stood, brushing lint off of himself and smiling. There was no Port on the coffee table. The chairs and couch were un-creased. He opened the curtains and let the light in. His smile widened.

There would be no guests tonight.



THE END





AN OPEN MIND



What is reality? Is it events as viewed by all? Or is it more then that? Does everyone perceive this reality the same? If not, then which reality is the real one? Is there such thing as reality if everyone views the world differently?

#

Ella Johnson was a cashier at a fast food restaurant, though she felt the stress of it at times she thoroughly enjoyed her time there; in fact, she preferred to be there then doing nothing at home. Ella was an open spoken woman, who tried to befriend everyone she worked with, well, everyone who was able to handle her free-spoken spirit.

Jacob Vilcas worked with Ella every day, he had become quite the friend to Ella; the two were practically siblings. Few people got along with Jacob because of his random outbursts of laughter and the strange noises he made. His voice could be heard loud and clear for most of his shift, despite the constant urging of his superiors to be quiet.

Nobody quite knew why Ella had become such good friends with someone so odd; then again, nobody could understand why she had married a 34-year-old man at the age of 22. The age gap wasn’t the main problem though; it was the fact that she had married a black man despite living in a racist town.

Ella wasn’t a person who let others’ opinions get under her skin; she could care less what they thought of her, which is why it was typically easy to get along with her.

She went to work every day, knowing that Jacob would be there, and that they would discuss matters of depth that no other could grasp. They had that in common, an obsession with knowledge. They would dive into large topics knowing full well that hours could pass before even scratching its surface.

They would continue the conversation the next day until thoroughly satisfied, then move on to another hot topic. On occasion, they would meet after work for coffee and delve into the topic of the mind; a favourite of both of them that constantly was revisited. Psychology and sociology often found their way into their many discussions.

Due to the amount of conversation between the two, they also knew more then a few things about each other’s personal life. They knew each other’s secrets. Secrets about their past, their present; and dark secrets that no other would ever hear.

Jacob was one of the few people that knew why Ella chose to walk everywhere she went. Why she refused to get behind the wheel. Why she let her license expire. She was terrified of repeating a past event.

Ella’s mind was filled to the brim with discussion material as she signed in at the beginning of her shift. She had read an article about the latest studies of the human mind and was itching to see Jacob’s view on it. From what she could tell though, it was going to be a busy night; which meant little discussion unfortunately.

She tried not to let this depress her as she did her duties, with her usually efficiency. The sight of an odd look on Jacob’s face that she rarely saw grabbed her attention; her curiosity spiked. She waited until she had a few moments of free time before confronting him about it.

However, before she could actually say anything, she had a customer to attend to, so she headed back to the counter. From behind her, Jacob approached and whispered something in her ear; he continued to walk, his goal accomplished.

She froze. Her body stood still as a cold chill ran up and down her spine. Her mind raced uncontrollably.

‘How could he know that?’ She thought, ‘I haven’t told him about it yet.’

He had stated, word for word, the title of the article she had read and wanted to discuss.

‘Maybe he read it as well,’ she thought as she took the customer’s order.

A few minutes later, after she finished serving the customer, she looked to her left to find Jacob smiling at her from a few meters away. There was something different about him today, but she couldn’t put her finger on it.

When she went to ask him about it, he simply told her not to worry about it. It drove her crazy her entire shift.

Near the end of the busy night, she finally found some time to talk to him, and discussed some of the article she had wanted to tell him about. She quickly discovered that he knew more about it then she did; he always knew more. Something at the back of her mind was telling her that she should be worried about that, but she ignored it like usual.

Just before she headed home for the night, she saw Jacob come upstairs in his casual attire and took a long look. He was wearing a new jacket; as usual, it was black, much like most of the clothing Jacob wore. It was a black trench coat that went almost to his feet. She secretly thought he looked amazing in black, but she would never tell him that, it would be too awkward.

“I know I do,” a voice whispered from behind her.

She quickly turned around to find nobody there. She felt the chill again; it had been Jacob’s voice.

She looked towards where Jacob had been standing to find him no longer there. Fear struck her; she went around the corner to see where he had gone. He wasn’t there. Her head suddenly turned to her right as she heard footsteps coming from downstairs. Jacob emerged from the stairwell, but he was not wearing the same coat, he was wearing the one he usually wore.

“Change your coat?” she asked in a joking tone.

“No, this is my only coat,” he said, “why do you ask?”

He smiled slightly and his gaze pierced into her. She locked onto his eyes as an epiphany struck her; she remembered what was different about him earlier. His eyes were the wrong colour, they were black; they were supposed to be brown. A slight difference that was hard to notice unless you looked closely, as she was doing now.

“Oh, no reason,” she said as she pulled away from the gaze. “I should probably head home and get some sleep, good night Jacob.”

She headed for the door. Just as she was walking through it, Jacob whispered into her ear once again.

“Don’t go.”

She continued to walk; she wasn’t in the mood for any more frights tonight.

She arrived home and found that her husband was already asleep; she had been hoping he would walk with her to the bank, it was a chilly night, and she hated walking alone.

She had been putting off going to the bank to take out some money since payday, three days ago. She couldn’t wait any longer. She would go alone.

With her scarf wrapped tightly and an extra shirt under her coat, she was ready for the journey. She trudged off into the wintry weather with purpose and hummed a familiar tune that was in her head since the walk to work that day. The roads were snow covered; there was no life, no traffic, nothing. She was alone. The wind picked up as she moved within eyeshot of her destination. She saw a black figure standing in front of the bank and stopped at the crosswalk that would lead her to the warmth of her bank.

“I told you not to go,” said the man. He was wearing all black, from his boots, to his mask, to his hooded trench coat that reached nearly to his feet.

“Do I know you?” she replied as she started to cross the road, eyes fixated on this man.

“I wouldn’t do that,” he said, standing as still as stone in the gusting wind.

“Do what?” she said, still walking. The road around her lit up almost as bright as day. She heard a loud screeching.

She looked to her left to see the headlights of a massive transport bearing down on her. She had no time to think, no time to react, no time to do anything. Her world went dark.

#

She opened her eyes; she was in a hospital bed. Something was wrong though, terribly wrong. She was in a room with only her bed. The scene looked awfully familiar. There was a calendar on the wall, she sat up and squinted to see it; her heart skipped a beat. The year was wrong. It was way too early, it was impossible. It was 4 years before it should be. She hoped the calendar was wrong as she tore her eyes away from it.

A nurse entered the room and suddenly memories flooded back to her. Oncoming headlights. Screeching tires, breaking glass, twisting metal, the screams, the terrifying screams. She gasped for breath as more memories raced though her head. Her hands on the wheel, snow, ice, three of her friends laughing and joking. In the passenger seat was one of her closest friends, holding a bottle of wine. She heard herself yell at one of the friends sticking her arm and head out the window.

She looked back at the road; headlights, screams, silence.

The memories stopped. Tears were running down her face. The nurse quickly went to her side to comfort her.

‘It’s happening again,’ she thought, ‘I went through this already’.

A doctor was fetched. After he entered into the room, she heard him saying something about a coma. She was still trying to get a grip on reality.

‘A coma?’ She thought, ‘I was in a coma?’

She looked at the doctor, he looked right back. She had been in a coma. She had dreamed four years of her life.

She was in shock. She was speechless; she couldn’t believe it had all been a dream. A vivid dream.

#

Four years later:

Ella loved her work, she was good at it, and she loved the company of her workmates. She loved coming to work every day, she never knew what excitement the day would bring. The memories of her dream were faded, and she had gotten on with her life.

Her mood was better this particular day because she had plans to go take out some money after work, and maybe treat herself to something. After all, payday had been a few days ago.

At the end of her shift, she bundled up, wrapped herself in a scarf, and headed to the bank. Just as she was about to cross the street to reach her target something caught her attention. A piece of paper blowing in the wind from her right. She stepped on it to stop it and bent over to pick it up.

With mittens covering her hands, she uncrumpled the white unlined paper. The paper contained one word, in black ink: Jacob.

She felt a chill unrelated to the cold outside. She looked up half expecting to see a dark figure standing in front of the bank; there was nobody. She was alone on the streets, just like her dream. She took a step forward, but then paused. She stepped back and looked left. A transport truck flew through on the road where she was just about to walk.

As it passed, she thought, ‘Why didn’t I hear it?’

She crossed the street without incident and withdrew the money she had come for. She quickly made her way home. The next day she made a doctor’s appointment.

The week following, she was informed that she was going deaf in her left ear. The cause of the deafness dated back to her car crash. A small amount of damage to her inner ear had gone unnoticed by the physicians who had focused on her more serious injuries after the crash. It had gotten worse over the years, but because she had never noticed it, she never got it treated. Now she was going deaf.

That’s why she hadn’t heard the transport coming. Despite the fact that she was losing her hearing, she was happy; happy to be alive. She could have just as easily been struck by that truck and died, like her three friends in the accident. She preferred this though; she preferred life. She had been saved by a dream, and a piece of paper with a name on it; she had been saved, by Jacob.

#

What is reality?

Reality is your perception of the world as recorded by your memories. Not everyone can catch everything that happens or remember every moment. Nobody has the same reality. Everyone remembers differently. Everyone is unique. No one reality is right. Therefore, it is safe to say, no reality is wrong either.



THE END





WHEN STORIES SPEAK



She walked alone down the darkened, rain-soaked path. She was ill prepared for the storm that had launched its attack on her walk home from work. Drenched and shivering she approached an old building that had more stories about it then the town itself. Gazing into the large upper window she saw a dim flickering light making its way through what appeared to be a red curtain. She walked faster as she recalled the most horrific of stories, she had heard about the resident of the building she approached. She figured that walking faster would make her pass by quicker, but she was wrong. In her haste she lost her footing on the wet road and tumbled to the ground.

With her face to the ground she pushed herself up onto her knees, wiping the dirt off of her freckled face with her wet sleeve. In the corner of her eye she saw that she had fell precisely in front of the building’s main entrance. The stone steps to her right led to a large door protected from the rain by an overhang and small walls sticking out from each side of the door. It was as if the building had a large scoop taken out of in and inside the hole was where the door was placed. The door was old, solid wood, and decorated with only a metal doorknocker shaped like a skull with no lower jaw. She guessed that, when in use, the skull looked like it was biting the door with each knock. She turned her head towards the door and nearly shrieked. Standing to the right of the door, peaking from behind one of the walls, was an old woman dressed in a dark gray hooded robe. Her hand was wrapped around the edge of the wall and only one eye was visible.

“Hello there girly,” the old woman said in a low cackling voice, “are you cold?”

“I—I’m fine,” replied the young woman dressed only in soaked blue jeans and a dripping black sweater.

“It is not wise to be out in this storm, why don’t you come inside and have a nice warm tea?” She gestured towards the door with her other hand, which appeared from behind the wall.

“I—,” she stammered, “I don’t think so.”

“Oh, don’t be silly, you’ll catch a cold out here.”

The young woman stared in fear at the old woman, and then at the door. She shivered and realized that the woman was right; she was going to get sick if she stayed outside. Especially since she was wearing clothing made for anything but the rain.

“Ok,” she said hesitantly, “until the rain stops, I guess.”

The old woman smiled and opened the large wooden door. She gestured her in and followed as the younger woman complied.

“My name is Edna,” declared the old woman after the door was closed behind them.

“Erin,” replied the drenched young woman.

Edna turned her head slowly towards her and smiled in satisfaction from getting a prompt response.

“My daughter’s name was Erin,” she said.

She removed the old fashioned, wood bottomed, sandals she was wearing and slipped into a pair of small leather slippers.

Erin looked around and was shocked to see a well-kept hardwood floor, tasteful red drapes, vases with flowers, paintings of many assortments and a variety of statues lining the walls. The walls were painted a light caramel and there were long fancy rugs placed strategically on the floor. Her fear of the building quickly changed to a fear of getting anything dirty. Just inside the door, where Edna had collected her pair of slippers, was a shelf holding many pairs of footwear, for both men and women. She thought it was odd considering she heard that the only male ever to live here had passed many years ago.

“Wait here,” Edna said in her low cackling voice, as she made her way down the hall, “I’ll find you some dry clothes to wear.”

The old woman disappeared around a corner and Erin stood dripping by the door, eyeing the painting at the end of the hall. It depicted an older man with jet-black hair and pale skin. It looked as if his eyes had a slight red tinge, but that might have been the lighting. The face was not smiling; in fact, every painting in the room had a dark undertone to it. Not one single happy picture could be found. She looked around again; every vase held red and black roses, and every statue had a scowl. The rugs depicted night scenes and men wearing black capes.

Her fear returned and she considered turning for the door when she heard Edna call out.

“Would you like some tea?” she said.

“Um…Ok,” Erin replied uneasily. Her eyes darted from item to item in the room and she grew far more uncomfortable with her situation.

Edna returned with a large towel and a change of clothes that looked more modern then anything that this old woman should have. She rushed Erin to a candle lit room and left her there to change. Through the door Erin could hear the old woman speak.

“Those were my daughter’s clothes once,” she said matter-of-factly.

Erin thought she was going to continue, but the words never came. She pulled her long red hair out of the bun it was in and let it hang as she dried it with the towel. She removed her soaked clothes and dried herself thoroughly, feeling the chill of the rain disappear into the black towel. She eyed the clothes she was given and thought deeply about when they could have been purchased. They weren’t recent, but they were less then two years old as far as she could tell. The pants were black, and had black laces entwined in the legs. The shirt was also black and consisted of crushed velvet; it had a V-neck that ran down about two inches from the base of her neck. After putting them on she realized they were a perfect fit. It was as if they were designed to fit her specifically. She got a chill.

She looked around the room she had just changed in and realized it was a fancy bathroom. It had dark red furry rugs, yellow painted walls, and many mirrors placed on the walls that allowed you to see nearly everywhere in the room from anywhere. There was a large white tub near the far wall with a translucent undecorated shower curtain. To it’s left was a simple white sink with another mirror above it and a simple toilet even farther over. There were no windows. Besides the mirrors there weren’t any decorations in site. Candles in wall mounts lined three of the walls, giving the room a dim flickering liveliness to it. The shadows made everything look almost alive. She decided it would be best if she found the old lady that let her in and made for the door. She clasped the handle and turned.

She timidly entered the long hallway and closed the door behind her. She looked towards the direction of the entrance, then looked the opposite; there was a large black door at the end of the hall. Her curiosity got the best of her and she headed straight for it. As she approached the door, she realized it was actually two smaller doors with no handles. The crack down the middle was thin so she figured the doors fit together tightly. She leaned herself against the doors and pushed; the doors creaked and slowly opened. She stared in awe at what she found in the room as the two doors swayed back together, effectively sealing her in. The walls were painted black and lined with candles. At the far side of the room was a dark gray, stone coffin with many engravings on it. There was a red carpet leading from the door to the coffin, and it was lined with 6-foot stone statues of gargoyles. There were, once again, no windows in the room, yet blood red drapes hung on the walls that made it appear like there were.

She began to slowly walk towards the coffin. Her breathing became heavier; her heart beat tribal rhythms in her eardrums. She took another step, drawing ever closer to the ominous coffin. Stories of the building she was in ran through her head, stories of strange sightings, of disappearances, of murders. All hearsay, but still enough to make her almost run out of the room screaming, almost. She took another step. The flickering candles making the coffin look like it was moving. Or did it move? It looked as if the lid of the coffin was no longer completely covering the top; it was sealed a moment ago. Her heart skipped a beat.

Was she imagining it? She took another step.

She nearly shrieked as her peripheral vision caught the figure of a man stepping out from behind a statue. She would have had he not covered her mouth with a large pale hand. He had somehow covered her mouth with one hand and placed his other hand on the small of her back in less then an eye blink.

She stared at him with fear in her ice blue eyes, as she recognized his visage. He was the man in the painting she had seen earlier; his eyes looked like rubies. She instinctually pushed at him to remove his grasp of her, but it meant nothing; his grasp was tighter then steel clasps. His stare was intense; it was as if he stared into her very soul. His pale gray lips slowly formed into a small grin and he released her from his grasp. She took a step back and took in the man’s appearance in its entirety. He wore black pants with a belt that looked like a metal serpent. His long-sleeved dress shirt was as white as his skin and puffed out near his hands. He wore an ankle length black cape with a blood red inline. The top of the cape wrapped around his neck was held on by a simple gold clasp just above his chest. He wore several gold rings with rubies and onyx inlaid in them. Hanging from his neck was a golden locket.

She recalled her stepmother giving her one when she was young, as a reminder of her real mother who had passed away. It sat in a small box at home with other personal items she never let anyone ever see. She never knew her mother, couldn’t remember her face. She was too young to recall that sort of thing when her mother died. She was told that her mother fell ill and never pulled through; no one had ever told her what illness had killed, just that she had one that killed her. The story of her father was ever vaguer, he had disappeared shortly after she had been born. The building she was in was rumored to have had something to do with that, but those were stories, no proof was ever presented to back them up. She didn’t have much attachment to family either way, so it didn’t matter to her if the stories of her father being killed here were true.

She quickly came back to reality and realized that the man still stood there, as still as the stone gargoyles that shared the room with them. She wondered what he was so fascinated by; he stared at her with a slight smile on his face. She looked away from his eyes; she couldn’t take them any more.

“You’re more beautiful then your mother,” he said in a deep yet warm tone.

The blood drained from her face. She nearly forgot to breath. Then she did; she fainted.

#

She awoke to the sound of something skittering. At first, she thought it was a mouse. But when she opened her eyes, she realized she was hanging upside down from the ceiling in a different room. The only life in the room that was moving was a small black ant directly below her. In fact, that was where her focus went immediately upon opening her eyes. Her hearing led her to look in that direction the moment she realized she was conscious. A look of confusion came across her face as she also realized that the floor was a good 10 feet below her face; yet she could see the black ant as if it were crawling on her eyeball.

Her hair was wrapped in a bun keeping it from falling into her vision and wrapped around her was a black cloak holding her arms across her chest. She pushed her arms away from her chest gently and heard a pop as the clasp holding the cloak so tightly around her released. The black velvet cloak felt the pull of gravity and fell as far as it could before a second clasp stopped its descent. The second clasp was located near her chest and held the cloak on much like a cape. She looked down again and saw the ant move, it sounded as if it were a rodent with the noise it made.

‘Why can I hear it so well?’ She thought.

She looked to where her legs were being held by straps and reached her arms up to release herself. She fell to the ground, somehow landing on her feet. She felt no blood rush from having been hung upside down. Actually, she felt better then good, she felt amazing; she felt energetic. She felt hungry. She stood up from the crouch she was in and looked down. She had crushed the ant. It didn’t bother her in the least, despite the fact that she usually hated to see animals die. The room was bare besides the three sets of roof straps above her. The room was black, completely black. There were no candles, or windows either. Yet she could see as clear as day.

“Are you hungry?” said a deep voice from behind her.

She quickly spun around to find the originator of the voice. The pale skinned man with glowing red eyes was standing within a meter of her.

‘Where did he come from?’ She thought, ‘I was alone a moment ago.’

He smiled, a full-fledged smile, and spoke once again.

“My name is Victor,” he said, “I apologize for frightening you earlier. Would you like something to eat? I’m sure you could use it.”

He gestured towards the door. She somehow knew she should exit the room at this very point in time. She simply nodded and took a few steps towards the door, sensing the dark presence of the man behind her.

She walked down the candle lit hallway, leading the way despite not knowing where they were headed. She somehow felt like she knew this place, but that was impossible, she’d never been here before. Fear was no longer present, she somehow felt comfortable around this pale skinned man. She felt, at home.

She stopped in front of a set of black doors; she looked over her shoulder and Victor looked at her with more warmth in his eyes then appeared to be in the rest of his dead looking body. She felt a wave of something running through her veins. It was excitement. She smiled and pushed through the thick doors like they were curtains and stopped just inside. Victor entered the room behind her.

“Welcome home Erin,” he said, and closed the doors behind them.



THE END





I CAN SEE YOU



He couldn’t get his mind off of it. Yet no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t seem to wrap his mind around it either. How was it possible? How could he have seen that? He forced it out of his mind and brought his attention back to his work. Dishes, lots of dishes. He didn’t mind working nights, it wasn’t as busy as the day, and he liked the people he worked with. Sure, he had to do a lot more dishes when he helped close the restaurant but doing dishes didn’t bother him too much.

He thought about a lot of things when doing dishes; it was his quiet time. He dwelt on the day’s events, his plans, and his life in general. He had lots to think about, but not today. Today he only had one thing on his mind. He looked at the wall to his left near the stairwell. There was a small hole in it from who knows what, stains, and a white painting job that looked good in it’s prime; ten years ago. His primary concern on that wall, and what drew him to looking at it, was the hole.

He was tempted to look into it once more, and even pulled his hands out of the water in anticipation. However, he reconsidered and went back to his quite large pile of greasy dishes.

Minutes passed and the pile shrank until there was nothing left but a sink of soon to be drained filthy water. He had managed to get lost in his dishes and had successfully gotten the thought off his mind. The sink made a noise as the last of the dirty water emptied. He peered into the drain as he sprayed water on the inside of the sink to make sure all the residue was gone. He suddenly leapt away from the sink in fear. He had seen it again.

This isn’t possible, he told himself; but he had seen it twice, in separate places. He looked around the room in fear, locating every hole he could find; they were everywhere. He had been noticing over the past few weeks that holes in the roof and walls kept appearing without reason. He had reasoned that it was because of the building’s age, but now he wasn’t so sure. He suddenly wished someone else were in the room, but he was alone. He would be alone for the next few hours.

He took in a deep breath and swallowed. Sweat had appeared on his brow and he tried to think of what to do. He was afraid to open any doors or go around any corners. He just stood there, frozen in fear. He ran his fingers through his hair and breathed in again. He realized that he had been holding his breath while thinking. Thoughts and ideas suddenly raced through his mind giving him more confidence.

‘Must be tired,’ he thought, ‘this can’t be real.’

He took a few more breathes and looked into the sink drain again. Nothing. He sighed in relief and started to put his dishes away. He dropped something and immediately crouched to pick it up.

Thump! Thump! Thump! The sound of three more things hitting the ground sounded as he was looking at the floor. He looked up and saw that the wall had a large hole in it. On the floor near it was three pieces of the wall, one on top of the others.

He turned white as he realized this new large hole was situated where a smaller hole had been. He quickly stood, forgetting what he had dropped on the floor. Fresh beads of sweat appeared on his forehead and he decided to get a closer look at the damaged wall.

He slowly approached it, his hair stood on end as much as gravity would allow. Goosebumps appeared on his arms as he leaned in to peer into the hole. Nothing happened. He saw nothing. He looked closer; still nothing. He stepped back and chuckled to himself. His imagination was just getting the best of him. He looked at the pieces of the wall lying on top of each other. He saw that some white dust from the broken wall had settled on the floor around the fallen pieces. He followed the dust around the perimeter of the fallen pieces and stopped at a blank spot on the floor.

‘How odd,’ he thought.

Then he saw that it was in a shape; a footprint. He stopped breathing, he stopped blinking, he could even have sworn that his heart stopped beating for a brief moment. It had. He gasped for air, but nothing happened. He looked down and saw a shadow emanating from behind him. He went numb. He knew no one was supposed to be here, but he knew what he saw. The shadow of a man.

He stared at the shadow in curiosity. Which was odd considering he couldn’t seem to be able to breathe. He suddenly found the shadow to be remarkably familiar. Realization struck; it was his own shadow but coming from behind him. He turned around and was shocked by what he saw; himself.

He saw himself smile, an evil smile that would have sent chills down his spine had he still been able to feel himself. He sensed himself moving backwards towards the hole. He tried to grip the ground, but he couldn’t seem to be able to touch it. He looked at his arms and legs as he slowly was pulled backwards. His flesh looked almost transparent and shadow like. He found himself inside the hole in the wall looking out as he saw himself walking towards him. He tried his hardest to scream out, but nobody heard anything; nobody heard his silent calls for help as he saw the wall slowly seal up before his eyes, and everything went dark.



THE END





LIFE IN A BLINK



It is said that your entire life flashes in front of your eyes before you die. I did not believe this myself until now, as I stand face to face with the barrel of a gun, with the trigger depressed. I know I am dead. I cannot help but wonder if my colleagues will be able to catch the man pulling the trigger and bring him to justice. I am a police officer, or should I say, I will be for as long as it takes that bullet to leave the barrel. I was part of a team that was entering a wanted criminal’s house. We had been tipped off to his location, and I had been assigned to be the first person through the door; but I am getting ahead of myself. Let us start from the beginning.

I was born a small-town boy but with big dreams. My father was a police officer, and his father before him. I caught the cop bug at an early age, so I ended up playing cops and robbers a lot with my two older brothers Derek and Jack. When they went off to college, I was left alone with my dad, mom and my own thoughts. I was always told I think too much about the future, but I cannot help it, it is just the way I am. I planned my whole life around becoming a cop; I did not even bother with friends. It was my goal and I was going to make sure I would reach it. Boy was I stupid.

Here I am at age 25 and about to get a bullet in the head. What have my goals gotten me? A bullet, that is what. My parents recently passed away and I do not even know where my brothers are. I do not keep track of things I do not categorize as important. What do I have to show for it? A bullet in the head, well, a bullet once it reaches me. Back to my life’s story.

After my brothers left, I felt like I was being punished, by whom I do not know, but I still felt that way. I had grown attached to them, and then they left me. My brothers were much older then I, so by the time I reached high school my lonely thoughts had twisted me into a boy with little to care for but my goal.

I did not see the point of making friends or even getting remotely close to anyone on ANY sort of level really. I knew that once school was over, we would all go our separate ways, so what would be the point of getting to know them? My schooling flew because of this train of thought and I soon found myself in a police academy and at the top of my class. I forgot to mention that I am incredibly bright, for a dead man. Once again, I did not see the point of befriending anyone, so I kept to myself and blew away every other man in the academy. In a figurative sense of course, even though the accuracy of my shot was good enough to do so in short order.

I was posted in NY City and quickly got the attention of the higher ups. My enthusiasm for my job rubbed off on my colleagues; but that did not make me any more willing to get to know ANY of them. I kept to myself whenever possible and even got my own squad car to myself for patrols. I got commendation after commendation. However, I was not happy, so I started aiming higher. I was always thinking, and when I was thinking my thoughts led me to places far above me. I always had another goal to reach for. I climbed the ranks rapidly and soon found myself in a tactical squad.

My first assignment was to breach a house where a wanted murderer was suspected to be and apprehend him. I was the first through the door. Greeting me was a gun in my face. What now? What have I accomplished? I reached so far ahead; I thought so far ahead, that I failed to enjoy what I had at the moment.

Today I would die and there was nothing I could do about it. Age at time of death: 25. What happens now? I die, that is what. What do I have? A bullet in the head. Fuck.



THE END

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Thanks for reading. These stories were written over a period of ten years; each having their own special meaning to me at the time. I hope you enjoyed reading my shorts as much as I enjoyed writing them. If you have any thoughts, feel free to leave me a review.

Thanks!

P. J. Daniels



Discover other titles by P.J. Daniels:

Queen of Black Sails


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