Monthly Archives: January 2013

No. 290 – Choose Your Own Adventure 2

The ghost watched the proceedings from a second-floor window. She set her head down on the sill and tried to think of a way to stop the demolition of her home. In retrospect, perhaps she’d been too keen on haunting the former owners of her shop. Maybe if she’d let them alone they wouldn’t have sold out to ValuMart.
Until now, she’d been relatively benign. Her haunting hadn’t been malevolent. She’d done it primarily to keep busy. There was only so much that a spirit trapped in a single building could do with their time. She’d made the walls bleed, once, but that had been an accident. When she was younger, she hadn’t yet realized the extent of her powers.   
She’d always had bad luck, too, dating back to before the day, ninety-seven years ago, that she’d been killed during a botched robbery.
She saw the fat man spit. She could barely hear his voice.
“He called me a ‘he’,” she muttered to herself. “If only he stepped inside, I could convince him to step right back out. And to take his machinery with him.”
Her words had a touch of fear to them. So far as she understood, if the building was razed, she’d cease to exist. She’d made it through one death, but she wasn’t going to roll over and let it happen a second time.
She placed her head back on her neck and floated downstairs. There wasn’t much time to prepare.    

No. 289 – Choose Your Own Adventure 1

Shannon Harper pulled out her pen and notebook. “What happens to the ghost?” she asked the small crowd of construction workers.   
“Ghost?” replied the foreman, Frank Gretz. “I don’t know anything about a ghost.”
Harper shook her head. “You’re tearing something down, and you haven’t even considered what might happen? The place is haunted.”
They both looked at the structure in question. One of the town’s original buildings, the general store was being bulldozed to make way for a new shopping center.
“Look, I understand you need to write your story for the paper, but we’ve got a job to do, too. I can’t spend all day talking about nonsense,” said Gretz.
“It’s not nonsense,” countered Harper. “It’s our history. So, again, what happens to the ghost?”
Gretz spat on the ground. “I reckon he’ll get the hint when the walls come down.”

No. 288

Christy Anne Taylor was at the bottom of a wishing well, feeling around in the shallow, stagnant water and shoveling coins into a backpack she’d received as a free gift with a magazine subscription.
“Hurry up, C.A.,” her boyfriend Randy called from the top of the shaft. “Somebody’s pulling into the parking lot.”
“If you wanted to hurry, why didn’t you crawl on down here?” she yelled back. “Go hide in the truck ‘till they leave. They’re not going to look in here.”
Randy did as he was told. It was pork chop night and, if Christy Anne got angry, she would only make enough for her.
The car eventually left, and Randy returned to the scene of the crime-in-progress. “Some kids,” he reported. “Making out.”
“That’s fantastic,” said Christy Anne. “I think I’m about done, here. Pull me up.”
She grabbed the well-bucket rope, and Randy dutifully hauled her to the surface.
“What’s the smell?” he asked as she crawled back onto the grass.
“You watch your mouth, Randy,” she said.
“How much did we get tonight?” he asked.
“’Bout seven fifty,” she told him. “And a pair of sunglasses.”

No. 287

When the time came, Robert’s house split down the middle, and the rocket rose up on its gantry.
Robert stood by and watched his masterpiece. He sipped his tea, and admired the name painted on the front of the sleek craft.
He smiled.

No. 286

 The oasis had been a closely guarded secret for a thousand years. Those who knew about it visited only infrequently, and only in times of most desperate need. It was whispered that the waters stole five years of life for every taste. Men, crazed with thirst, would risk the curse to wet their tongues.
The traveler stood atop the dune that separated the oasis from his caravan. He knew the others had no idea they were so close to a spring. The traveler remembered his father’s warning and wanted to turn away, but he had no choice. They had been without water for more than a day, by now. The desert sun was extracting a heavy toll. He thought about his wife and son, waiting in the valley below. Could they make it to safety, still another day away? He knew the decision he had to make, and, with a conflicted heart, he made his way down the sandy slope to inform the others.
Better to live now, and worry about the future later.

No. 285

 The letter was addressed to her but the apartment number was off by one digit. I should have just taken it over, but I opened it. Now I knew something about my neighbor that I’m sure she’d want to keep quiet.
I debated doing nothing. She’d never suspect that it came to me. Mail gets lost all the time. But this, this letter, she needed to get. I couldn’t look at myself if I kept it from her. Then I realized that if I stuffed it under her door, I’d be home free. She’d know her secret was out, but she wouldn’t be able to pin it on me.
I was kneeling in front of her apartment, ready to do the deed, when her door opened. Her eyes locked on mine as I froze, evidence in hand.
 “I see that somebody’s been a naughty girl,” she said, her face darkening.

No. 284

When I worked at the Sunshine Bean, our biggest rivalry wasn’t with the Java Stop down the street. It was with the 80th Street Sunshine Bean, three blocks away. They always seemed to outperform our sales by the slightest of margins, and their reviews were always just a little bit higher.

Our sister store was, to us, a strange, unpleasant place to visit. Even though it had a similar floor plan, and the exact same decor, it was off somehow. And not just because everything was kept one drawer over to the left. The staff were, obviously, not as friendly as ours and, to be honest, we had at least four or five people a day walk into our store to have their drinks fixed that 80th Street had made wrong.

At the time, of course, we all just considered it healthy competition. It wasn’t until I’d moved on from Sunshine Bean that I began to hear rumors of what actually went down at 80th Street. I’d get messages from friends who still worked for the company. Odd messages in the middle of the night.  I found a note under the windshield wiper of my car. All the correspondence said the same thing.

“It happens at night.”

My curiosity was piqued, and one evening, well past my bedtime, I drove by the 80th Street Sunshine Bean. The lights were on, and there were people moving around inside. It was past closing, and according to standard practices, nobody should have been there. I parked around the corner, and moved closer on foot.

They were loading something into a trap door in the floor that certainly wasn’t in the plans of my store. And the something they were loading, though obscured in a large canvas sack, was squirming.

Then one of them saw me. They yelled to the others, and the entire group scattered. The lights were quickly shut off. It was too late for me to run. I pulled out my phone and pointed the camera at the storefront.

I called out into the darkness. “Let me in, or your secret gets revealed.”

No. 283

The chickens had been hearing rumors for some time that a fox was planning to raid the henhouse. They gathered together to examine their options to prevent the fox from attacking.

“I propose,” said the head chicken, “That we band together and, when the fox arrives, we fight him!”

“Aye!” said all the other chickens. “Aye!”

Three nights later the fox crept toward the darkened henhouse. The head chicken, who had been keeping watch, spotted the fox and called to the others. “To arms, friends! To arms! It’s time to repel the villainous fox!”

But the other chickens had gone. They had realized that they were chickens who had been planning to defeat a fox in open combat. The head chicken re-evaluated his strategy and ran away, too.

The fox ate all the delicious eggs and went back to its den to take a nap.  

No. 282

“Where’s my party shirt?” asked Scott.

“You mean that ratty blue one you always try to wear?” said his girlfriend, Hilary.

“It’s not ratty. It’s fine,” said Scott, taking a stand in a battle he couldn’t win.

“I don’t know,” said Hilary. “Last time I saw it was after that thing at the Fleury’s house.”

“You know I can’t party without it,” said Scott. He was rooting through his closet frantically, and was beginning to suspect that Hilary had followed through on her repeated threats to burn the shirt in question.

“Why don’t you wear that nice green shirt you got for your birthday?” suggested Hilary, trying to distract Scott from discovering that she had, in fact, thrown out his shirt.

“It’s not comfortable,” said Scott. “And it’s not fun.”

Hilary put her foot down. “Wear the green shirt.”

Scott gave her the stink-eye, but did as he was told. He knew, in that moment, what she had done.

No. 281

Rob Tiller had been tied up and set adrift on the lake in a small boat. He struggled to free himself but could not manage to loosen the binding ropes. His attempts to escape became more urgent when he realized that the boat had a leak. Rob estimated that he’d be underwater within the hour.

Tiller’s problems had all started the day before, when his best friend double-crossed him. The betrayal was over a bet, of all things, not even a girl.