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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.


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