WU! On “Dr. Paul’s Family Talk”

If you missed Writers Unite! on “Dr. Paul’s Family Talk” on Friday here is the podcast of the segment. Join host Paul W. Reeves and WU! Admin Deborah Ratliff as they discuss the topic, Book Reviews.

Book Reviews

If you would like to listen to “Dr. Paul” in its entirety (and it’s a lot of fun), you listen to this podcast of Friday’s show.

Dr. Paul’s Family Talk Friday October 11,2019

Enzo Stephens: Afterlife

Welcome to Write the Story! Each month Writers Unite! will offer a writing prompt for writers to create a story from and share with everyone. WU! wants to help our members and followers to generate more traffic to their platforms. Please check out the authors’ blogs, websites, Facebook pages and show them support. We would love to hear your thoughts about the stories and appreciate your support! 

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( Please note: the images used as prompts are free-use images and do not require attribution.)  

Afterlife Collusion

By Enzo Stephens

Sammy Haggerty thundered his big ole self through the deep, dank forest in the middle of the night; breath swooshing in and out of his laboring lungs that were covered by countless pounds of excess flesh.

Sammy was not cut out for running, in any manner, shape or form.

Sammy was cut out for one thing; beating on stuff. ‘Stuff’ in this context applies solely to people, which is what landed him in this predicament in the first place.

He surged on, even though the urge to just stop and drop on his butt in the middle of the burgeoning forest in the middle of the night with some creepy-assed fog blowing out of who-the-hell knows where, hoisting his lumbering feet and legs over tree roots and through scrub brush.

A dim and distant part of him seriously hoped there were no venomous snakes hanging out, just waiting for some big, fat and overripe piece of USDA Prime Eyetalian Meat to sink its fangs into.

That thought punctured the encroaching mental fog that came with sustained over-exertion and lent speed to his headlong flight through the thick forest during the darkest hour of a moonless night, which in and of itself was sheer insanity. As in, why in the hell would anyone want to do something this crazy?

Because it’s better than doing time.

And that is a sobering enough reason to grow wings on his feet like Hermes.

His toe felt the protruding root before it snagged his foot to send him flying, only to come to an abrupt stop shoulder-first into an unyielding bole. His clavicle snapped and he cried out, not sure which was louder, the snap of the bone or his big-babyish cry.

In either case, paranoia had Sammy firmly in its grasp and he struggled to his feet, left arm dangling uselessly; each shambling step an episode in blinding, blistering pain, and yet he pressed on.

To where? Who the hell knew. Just… away. Away from the cops who were surely by now swarming over the wreckage of the prisoner transport vehicle. Away from those suits who were studying the corpses of the two guards in said prison transport vehicle. Sammy’s last two ‘vics’ (although he felt justified in removing them in order to ensure his freedom).

Sammy was being transported from Camp Hill State Corrections facility, which is a medium-security prison, to Frackville Maximum Security. It would be hard time for a very long time for Sammy, though it would be a much longer and harder time for the family of the 16-year old girl he raped, enslaved and then eventually killed in a ritual that was reminiscent of a Satanic ceremony.

Sammy pleaded temporary insanity due to ‘evil voices’. His attorney managed to scrounge up professional witnesses that testified to Sammy’s suffering from multiple-personality disorder and a whole host of other letters that sounded really, really bad. 

And while Sammy greatly enjoyed the fruits the young lady had to offer, finishing her off was the ultimate. 

Still, he was awarded with 18-24 years in a medium-security facility with prescribed psychiatric care, and things were going swimmingly for a while, until Sammy grabbed a guard one night, knocked him senseless, stabbed him between 60 and 80 times and then pleasured himself at the expense of said guard’s lower anatomy.

That stunt landed him on a high-speed transfer to Frackville, and pretty much Sammy’s death sentence. He’d heard stories…

So, as he bounced and jostled about in the back of the transport truck, complaining of how painful the tight handcuffs were, the transport vehicle came full-on to several huge deer that were strolling down the state route as if they owned it, sending the transport careening into a guardrail and over the side of an embankment and into a tree that seemed to be as wide as a barn.

The impact blew Sammy into the front of the van a split-second after both guards slammed forward with concussive force. The driver looked as though he was flattened against the seat, pinned there by an exploding airbag, while the other guard smashed his head off the windshield and was now lying sprawled in a wash of blood that flooded from his ruptured head.

Sammy dug keys out of the passenger guard’s belt and fumbled around for like forever until he opened the cuffs. And then he stopped to think about the downed guards, eventually coming to a conclusion, especially when the radio squawked.

Sammy would show the guards mercy by not letting them suffer. He removed a nightstick from the belt of the passenger, then pried his mouth open and rammed the end of the nightstick into his open mouth, pushing until he heard a loud crack. The guard’s eyes opened suddenly in an unseeing panic, and then they slowly glazed over and his head fell limp.

Sammy smiled. That was fun. He turned to the driver who groaned at that precise moment. Their eyes locked; the guard seemed to know what was coming and he began to struggle, albeit weakly. Sammy didn’t bother prying the guard’s mouth open; he just rammed the end of the nightstick into the guard’s mouth, shattering teeth along the way, and then levered his prodigious strength behind the nightstick until he heard another loud crack and that guard slumped dead.

Sammy was breezy good; his guards were deaders, his cuffs were el-gonno, and a whole wilderness lay open before him.

It was a gift. A gift of freedom!

And then the radio squawked again. “Prisoner Transport 203, we have your location. Please report status of vehicle and the prisoner. I repeat; we have your location and we have vehicles on the way now. What is your status please?”

Hurriedly Sammy located a key to his ankle-cuffs and freed his feet. He then punched his way out of a crumpled van door to stagger to his feet along the side of the elevated and empty road.

It was time to hightail it. Beat feet. Sammy turned this way and that, trying to decide the best way to go. He reasoned that left was west, which was farther away from Frackville, and so that’s where he set off, veering away from the road and into the deep forest at a trot that he hoped didn’t exhaust him.

It did. But he pushed on, afraid of getting caught, terrified of that ominous place called Frackville.

To now. There were no noises from the road; Sammy hoped it was far distant. He had no idea how long he’d been barreling through the forest, but he reasoned that he had to be pretty far off. Sammy hoped like hell he didn’t leave a huge trail too.

His entire left side was in a throbbing agony he’d never experienced in his thirty-odd years of life and he heard himself talking out loud to himself and he wondered what the hell he was saying. 

The darkness was thick, the air was wet with fog that felt like vegetable oil coating his skin; his thirst was a ravening animal in his head, in second-by-second combat with the pain of his shattered clavicle. 

But he pushed on nonetheless. What else could Sammy do?

And then he spied it. A light, glimmering far ahead through the forest. Sammy stopped, blinking, wondering if he was imagining it, if it was a delusion. 

It wasn’t, the light was still there. Sammy bowed his head, took a deep breath, then another, then pushed himself to move toward the light. Branches slapped his face and arms, but Sammy didn’t care. 

Time crawled, his world was nothing but one step after another, then unyielding darkness, the stinking fog, and that glimmering light in the distance. Often the steps were uneven, jolting his abused shoulder, the sudden pain snapping his attention back into laser focus.

Finally Sammy made it to a small clearing and the light that called to him from so far away now washed over his broken, ruptured person, and it felt glorious. It felt warm and cleansing and Sammy dropped to his knees, muttering something that he supposed was a form of prayer.

It emanated from a second-floor window of what looked to be a house. In the middle of the forest?

But Sammy was well past asking questions. He needed to slake his thirst and tend to his injury and then he needed to sleep. He stumbled around the perimeter of the house, searching for a door, and then finding it, he then located a doorbell and pushed it… and received no response.

He jabbed it again and again and… nothing. He tried the knob. Locked!

Sammy opted to pass on the courteous approach and use the gift that God gave him — his brute strength. He took that doorknob in his right-hand fist and squeezed. Hard. He poured every ounce of power he had into it and he felt the metal of the knob begin to crumple. He wrenched hard and the knob came off in his hand. Sammy dropped it and pushed the door, stepping into a dark room. 

He pushed the door closed and crept his right hand along a wall and was rewarded to find a wall-switch. He flipped a toggle and a soft yellow glow grew out of the far corner of the room.

It was a larger room and had the feel of a basement. Sammy spied an end table and snared it, using it to block the door closed. He listened closely and heard nothing. All was silent in the house; as silent as the deep forest outside.

Who was the light on for? Where were the occupants?

Deep questions that Sammy abruptly pushed out of his mind as he made for a flight of steps and tried to climb those steps as quietly as possible, though there was an occasional squeak.

Another door at the top of the steps that Sammy pushed through boldly. Still no one in sight, and the place didn’t look as if it were occupied. Sammy forged ahead; up into a kitchen that looked to be well-equipped. The light that beckoned Sammy from oh-so-far away beamed in an adjoining room, which Sammy strode into.

Not a soul was evident. He spied a timer plugged into a wall outlet and surmised that the light was programmed to come on and go off at certain times.

Gee, ya thought of that all by yourself, didja?

Sammy moved from room to room; all dark, all unoccupied, and the dust on the hardwood floors indicated there hadn’t been a body there in quite some time.

Sammy went to a bathroom and turned the water on, sticking his face under the tap, drinking greedily.

Thirst slaked, Sammy was momentarily staggered by both weariness and pain; he stumbled into a bedroom, located a bed and fell onto it and was asleep in seconds.

^^

Sammy stared at himself in the mirror as he dragged someone else’s razor over his grizzled cheeks. His eyes were surrounded by shadows and he looked as if he were haunted, and in a way he was.

Always wondering when the cops would arrive at the house, pounding on the door, pointing their guns at him, then slapping cuffs on him and taking him to Frackville. 

But weeks and weeks had gone by — though Sammy didn’t exactly go out of his way to measure how much time had elapsed — and still the owners of this house were non-existent.

It was like it’s a gift from God!

He pulled the makeshift sling off and tried to rotate his shoulder. The sudden pain dropped him to his knees and he gingerly replaced the sling with tears in his eyes.

Sammy made his way to the kitchen. The larder was very well stocked with canned goods, and Sammy took advantage of that. He popped open a can of Dinty Moore, threw it on the fire, finished it off, opened an Iron City and made his way into the TV room. He snapped on the 75-inch Samsung and thumbed his way over to Netflix. He pulled up a crazy show called ‘Happy’ and set himself to laugh uproariously.

Sammy had no thoughts of dead guards, nor of a dead 16-year old girl. He was all about the food, the beer and the nutty show.

The doorbell rang.

Huh?

Panic assailed him instantly — COPS! 

Sammy crouched his way to the windows looking over the gravel drive and saw…

Nothing!

What?

Slowly he made his way downstairs to the door he damaged long ago. He peered through the glass of the door and saw…

Two girls?

Oh it had been soooooo long since he’d been with a woman and he wanted IT. Bad.

He opened the door. “Yeah?”

There were two girls there, maybe 16 or 17. “Hi!” they said in unison, and with a whole lot of cheer and bright, shiny teeth.

“Hi. What can I do you for?”

One of the girls curtsied — unbelievable! “Well, we’re selling Girl Scout cookies.”

“Huh?” And yes indeed both girls were wearing Girl Scout uniforms, or at least that’s what they looked like. But the skirts…

The other girl piped up, “Sure mister, want some cookies?”

My goodness, he thought. Those short skirts…

“Come in, come in,” he invited, stepping aside to allow the girls to come into the house.

“Thank you,” one of them giggled as they brushed past him and into the basement room.

“C’mon up,” Sammy invited them as he moved to the stairs. “What are your names?”

More giggles. Then, “I’m Sasha, and this is Sonya. We’re twins!”

“Really? Twins? You don’t look alike.”

“We’re not identical, you doofus, but yeah we’re twins. Twins don’t have to be identical, you know.”

“Well come on upstairs so I can see what you have to sell.”

“What’s your name mister?”

“Call me Sammy.”

“I like that, Sammy. It’s easy to remember when… you know…”

Images of carnal delight flooded Sammy’s head. “Are you two girls too young for a glass of wine?”

Sasha looked at Sonya. They nodded to each other. “No, I don’t think so. We’d love a good glass of wine.”

“So would I,” laughed Sammy.

^^

The two girls laid out a large, colorful catalog of a variety of delicious-looking cookies, but Sammy was having a ‘hard’ time keeping his mind focused on the catalog. The girls were on either side of him, and Begorrah-be-damned if he wasn’t actually licking his chops at the prospect of diving into the little lassies.

“So lemme ask you girls a question; do you have this psychic thing where you can feel what each other is feeling?”

One of the girls nudged Sammy’s thigh as he perched on a stool at the kitchen island. “Now why would you ask such a silly question?”

Sammy had his reasons. “Well…” he drawled.

“He wants to know if one of us would feel pleasure if the other was getting pleasure!”

“You mean, like cumming, sis?”

“Yep. That’s zactlee what I mean.”

Both girls looked at Sammy who took on a sheepish expression. “Well, c’mon girls, you both are gorgeous and I’m just a simple single guy here—”

And as he finished that sentence he looked from one girl leaning on the kitchen island on his left, to the girl on his right who was swinging a huge cast-iron skillet toward his head.

The resounding clang echoed in Sammy’s head long after the lights went out.

^^

Light gradually crept into Sammy’s clouded vision. He groaned, his head pounding like a fat man on a treadmill. Even his frikken eyes hurt!

“Well now there you are big boy!”

And the vision of a beautiful teenaged girl swam into view; her luscious blond hair cascading down from her silky soft shoulders to tickle Sammy’s cheeks and neck, and then his chest, and Sammy was in heaven, even if he couldn’t put two and two together to make four. 

Another girl laughed; a tinkling sound like an angel. “Look at his little willie, sis!” And the vision turned away, then turned back, a look of scorn on her angelic face.

“There’s not much going on there Sammy.”

Sammy begged to disagree. He felt the onset of some serious wood going on down south of the border.

The other girl laughed. “Is that all you got? But damn dude, you’re not a small guy!”

“Just small in the package department!” And both girls laughed and fire raced up Sammy’s neck to flush his face in shame. He opened his mouth to speak—

But he couldn’t because there was something stuffed in his mouth. 

The girls took turns slapping his gear around. It was uncomfortable — hell, it was painful, but somehow Sammy was enjoying it, and he felt himself growing excited. He pulled at his arms, but they did not move. He turned his wobbly vision to the left and then the right to see that his wrists were cuffed to a bed. He raised his head to look at his feet — which also refused to move, and found his ankles cuffed to the bed.

And a gag in his mouth; Sammy was in the shit now! The girls were on either side of him, taking turns smacking his erection around and laughing at him, and of course, he was completely naked.

“Hey Sammy.”

What girl was it that called him?

“We know whatcha did.”

Sammy stammered, “What do you mean?”

The other girl piped in, and she wasn’t looking so hot anymore; her skin taking on a pale, pasty white pallor. “You tore that poor girl up. Her name was Mary.”

Sammy cried out. “Yeah it was Mary, but I’ve begged for forgiveness…”

“This is your forgiveness, and you lose, assclown.”

And right before his eyes, the two stunningly gorgeous girl scouts with the array of super tasty cookies…

Disappeared.

Leaving Sammy cuffed to a bed, stark naked and alone.

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Please visit Enzo on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Enzo.stephens.5011

Cheryl Ann Guido: A Cottage in the Woods

Welcome to Write the Story! Each month Writers Unite! will offer a writing prompt for writers to create a story from and share with everyone. WU! wants to help our members and followers to generate more traffic to their platforms. Please check out the authors’ blogs, websites, Facebook pages and show them support. We would love to hear your thoughts about the stories and appreciate your support! 

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( Please note: the images used as prompts are free-use images and do not require attribution.)  

A Cottage in the Woods

By Cheryl Ann Guido 

When I was thirteen, I lived in a little community that bordered on a dense forest. On many afternoons, my golden retriever Sam and I would plow through high grass and weeds navigating the rocky terrain in the thicket of ancient pine and oak. I liked to pretend that we were adventurers on a dangerous mission. Sometimes, a friend or two would join us but mostly it was just Sam and me. My friends were frightened to go into those woods. Many urban legends had been told about this dark area, too many for them I suppose.

True or not, those woods were treacherous. We never knew what we would encounter. Too often I had come home with a case of poison ivy and my mother scolded me, warning me not to go back. On several of our trips, we had come face to face with snakes and spiders, and once we even caught a glimpse of a coyote. But for some reason, the lure of the wind whistling through the trees and the sounds of animals going about their daily business lured me back, time after time. Our encounters with the creatures of the forest were taken in stride. I knew they were all part of the adventure.

One day as we pushed farther into the dense thicket than we ever had before, we caught sight of a tiny cottage. It seemed out of place. There were no roads that led to it and, over the course of time, weeds and vines had snaked up its walls and coiled around the windows, making the little house their own. The chimney was crumbling, all of the windows were cracked or missing glass, and the roof had caved in on one side. The cottage was obviously abandoned and to thirteen-year-old me, it looked haunted.

Part of me wanted to run, to get as far away from that place as possible. But part of me felt compelled to see what was inside. I approached the gravel pathway that led to the partially open front door. Walking on that pathway was tricky. The stones were sharp and pointy. Some were missing and other areas were so slippery that my feet slid sending me off balance. My dog, who ran ahead had already disappeared through the door. I looked up at the sky and realized that the afternoon was waning. It would be evening soon and with evening came darkness. I certainly did not want to be caught in the woods after nightfall. I thought that exploring the cottage might be best left for another day so I called out to Sam, but he did not come back. That was strange. Sam always obeyed me and stayed close by my side. Worried about my dog, I had no choice but to proceed to the cottage and find him.

I hastened my pace and my foot slipped on something round and hard. It rolled slightly and I tumbled to the ground. As I hit the surface, my hand instinctively reached out to steady myself, but instead, wrapped around something smooth and oddly shaped. Without a thought, I picked it up and brushed away the dirt that had probably been on it for ages. When I realized what I held, I dropped it and my hands flew to my mouth, stifling the scream that was trying its best to escape. The human skull rolled away and crashed into a rock as I watched in horror. Jumping to my feet, I saw that the object I had tripped on was a leg bone, a human leg bone. What was this place?

Every fiber of my being told me to run, but I was determined not to leave without my beloved dog so I took a deep breath and continued to the house. Finally, I was just a few feet away. I crouched low and slithered up to one of the windows in an attempt to peek inside. A spider web of cracks made it impossible to see anything. Summoning up courage, I walked around to the front of the cottage, planning to enter through the front door. What could possibly happen? The house was abandoned after all, wasn’t it? When I reached the threshold, I stood there for a moment. It was difficult to see. The room was pitch black despite the little bit of light shining through the windows.

Hesitation took hold and my mind began to conjure up images of the next day’s news headline: Local Teen Disappears. Perhaps I would never be found. Perhaps the story would break at some future time with the headline: Bones of Missing Teen Found in Abandoned Cottage.

“Stop it! This place is spooky enough. You don’t have to make up stuff that isn’t going to happen.” I had spoken the words aloud which surprised me. Well, I thought, if anyone is in there, they know I’m here now.

By this time my vision had somewhat adjusted to the darkness. Proceeding through the entry, I found myself in a small room that I guessed was once a parlor. In the shadows, I thought I saw movement and I plastered myself against the wall in hopes that they hadn’t seen me. A feathery golden tail wagged in front of me and I almost shouted in glee. It was Sam. My joy, however, was short-lived.

“Come in, my child.”

The fireplace suddenly lit up and, in the light provided by the flames, I could see an elderly woman sitting in a wooden rocking chair. She wore a yellowed, tattered wedding dress trimmed in lace and pearls. Her veil swirled around the front of the chair and an ornate, pearl-studded headpiece partially covered her face.

“Come in, warm yourself in front of the fire. Sam and I were just having a nice chat.”

I thought my eyes would pop out of their sockets. She had been having a conversation with Sam?

As if he understood, Sam barked once. My hands shook as I petted his head. This was creepy, really creepy. I gulped then decided to try to find out more.

“I thought this house was abandoned. Do you live here?”

“My child, I have lived here for sixty years now. Today is the sixtieth anniversary of the day I was wed.”

Well, I thought, that certainly explains the wedding dress … sort of.

I moved closer and stood in front of the fire. Sam sat next to the mysterious woman. He rested his head on her lap as she gently scratched his ears. This was getting weirder and weirder. I decided that I really did not need any more information. All I wanted to do was to take my dog and leave.

“Ma’am, I don’t mean to be rude. But it’s getting late and I have to get home.”

“I know, child. You need not stay. Sam has told me what I needed to hear.”

I arched my brows. This was not happening. My heart began to pound.

“Um, I gotta go. C’mon Sam.”

I turned toward the door but my dog remained by the woman’s side. I sensed that he was reluctant to leave her. She smiled, nodded her head and pointed to me. Sam rose to his feet and padded toward my direction. Halfway there he turned and with what I could have sworn was a look of great sadness gazed at the elderly woman. She stood up.

“It’s all right Sam. You can go now. Thank you.”

The woman disappeared into the darkness farther back into the house as my dog trotted over and we left.

I never got the chance to go back to that house. The next day, the entire neighborhood was atwitter with the news of a fire that had engulfed an old house in the woods. The remains of a woman named Abigail Jones had been found in the rubble along with some bones, a skull, leg and other skeletal remains outside of the house. The local paper published an article about Mrs. Jones in the evening edition. Abigail had apparently been living in that cottage for years. Her husband, Samuel Jones had built it for the two of them, but on their wedding day, he went out to gather some wood for a fire and never came back. Nothing more was known about Abigail Jones. It was unknown how she had survived for so many years, how her husband had died or why his body had rotted away only feet from her front door.

I put the paper down and looked at Sam wondering what the connection was between Abigail and my dog? Could he be the reincarnation of her husband? Was he some kind of messenger? Or was Abigail just some crazy woman living in the woods? I had to admit, it was a strange coincidence that I had given my dog the same name as her husband.

“Sam, what did you tell that old woman?”

Sam lifted his head. He looked directly into my eyes. The corners of his mouth turned up in a doggie smile as his tongue wagged. I scrunched up my nose.

“Not telling, huh? Well, perhaps it’s a secret best left unspoken.”

~FIN~

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Please visit Cheryl on her website: https://cherg1.wixsite.com/cherylannguido/

Kenneth Lawson: Sins of the Youth

Welcome to Write the Story! Each month Writers Unite! will offer a writing prompt for writers to create a story from and share with everyone. WU! wants to help our members and followers to generate more traffic to their platforms. Please check out the authors’ blogs, websites, Facebook pages and show them support. We would love to hear your thoughts about the stories and appreciate your support! 

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( Please note: the images used as prompts are free-use images and do not require attribution.)  

Sins of the Youth

By Kenneth Lawson

It had been decades since he’d been back to the old town. Catching up with old friends and seeing the folks he knew as a kid had been fun. But he was really here for another reason. 

He had to go back to the cabin. Part of him hoped it was still standing. And a bigger part of him hoped it had long ago collapsed on itself, burying their secrets with it. A bunch of kids, they were what they were, at the time had found the old cabin and used it as a clubhouse of sorts for years. Keeping their secrets from the world. And their parents. 

It was the third night in town when he had a chance to sneak away unnoticed. Leaving his car by the road he took his flashlight and found the old stone path that had led to the cabin. At one time he was sure it had been a really nice place, but even back then it had been a wreck. The years had been as kind as they could be to a dilapidated house. It was still standing. In the moonlight, he made out the shape of the old building. Closing his eyes he could hear his friends calling him, and in his mind, he replayed the last summer. The games they played and towards the late summer, before they went to high school, they had discovered girls. They had all taken turns bringing girls up here. But things got out of hand. And stuff happened. And Becky, Becky Lane her name was, disappeared the next day.

Of course, he knew what had happened, and had sworn to secrecy under penalty of death. The look on her face as she fell and hit her head, and rolled to the floor still haunted him every night when he went to sleep.

They had panicked and hid her in the floor of the cabin and never returned.

That fall into winter all everyone talked about was the disappearance of Becky. 

But they never said a word. No one searched the cabin, in fact, they never even searched the woods where the cabin was. Which surprised him. It was a well-known spot for the local kids to play. But for some reason it was assumed that she’d never go there, it just wasn’t “like her” to go into the woods, she was too much of a homebody and “Goody Two Shoes” to actually go outside and play in the woods. While no one said it specifically, that was what they all thought. He, of course, knew better.

Pushing his way through the brush that had overgrown the path, he found the door. The moon was shining just like it had that night. Breathing hard, he closed his eyes as he touched the old door. He felt his heart racing and the lump in his stomach was almost enough to make him throw up. Swallowing hard, he took a few deep breaths. 

He pushed the door open. It almost fell off the hinges as it opened inward. The stale musty air hit him but he blocked out the smell and stood in the doorway. Shining his flashlight around the room, he thought how much smaller it was than he remembered it being. The posters once on the wall were either lying on the floor or hanging by a thread. In the far corner was “The Stash” as they called it. The stack of dirty magazines that was almost two feet tall. Now a pile of wet and soggy glossy pictures whose colors and pictures had long ago run into each other and become unreadable. He spotted the table leaning against the wall, its legs broken. Broken that night when Becky fell against it. She hit the wall so hard it knocked the old rifle that had hung on the wall since long before they had started using it as a clubhouse. The barrel had landed squarely on her head, and that coupled with the fall had been enough to render her unconscious. They felt for her pulse as best they knew how, and there was none. She was dead. 

They panicked. No one wanted to admit to bringing her up there. Then the whole thing would come out, all the girls they’d brought up, and the books and pictures and other stuff they had up there.

So they buried her under the floorboards of the shed. And they left. 

And never came back.

Until now. He had to know if she was still there. For his own peace of mind, to know she was still buried in the shed. 

It took a few minutes in the dark to remember exactly where they had buried her.

But he found it. Pawing through the dirt with an old loose board, he found nothing. No bones, no clothes. Nothing. 

“Looking for me?”

He literally peed his pants at the sound of the voice behind him. Standing up, he turned back to the door.

The voice had been quiet and steady. But he recognized it.

Becky stood in the doorway holding a shotgun. The shotgun. 

“I thought…”

She interrupted. “Thought I was dead?” 

“Yeah, we all did.”

“I know. You didn’t notice that you didn’t see Frank around town when you got here?”

“Yeah, I wondered about that but just thought since he was older and on his own, he left town so no one would ask. I wasn’t sure he was still around.”

“He is, he is under the floor over there. He came back that night looking for me after you ran. I think he realized that I wasn’t dead or wanted to make certain I was. By then I had decided what I wanted to do and he could ruin it for me.” She moved the barrel of the shotgun ever so slightly to indicate the far corner of the room. He glanced at it, and then back to her.

“You killed him?”

“Yes. He egged you into trying it on with me that night. You could have said no, it wasn’t right, but you let him push you. And when I fell, I hit hard and the old gun fell down. It damned near did kill me, but I woke up after you left. Dug my way out of the floor just before he showed up. I killed him, buried him, and disappeared. Yeah, let the whole damned city think I was dead. While I hid out and watched everyone chasing in circles trying to find me. I saw my parents. I spied on them. Even snuck into the house, and heard them when no one was around. They were glad I was gone. Oh, they put on the front and made out how they missed me and wanted me back. But I knew better. So I stayed gone.

I changed my name and went to a new town, invented some kind of bullshit story, and they believed it. And the next thing I knew I was adopted and living on the good side of town. It has been great all these years. So I guess I should thank you for almost killing me while trying to get into my pants.” 

“How did you know I was here?”

“I’ve been watching you since you got into town. I hoped you would come out here to make sure my body’s still here. Saves me having to move you afterward.”

“Look, I’m really sorry, we didn’t mean nothing by anything we did, we were just kids.”

“That might have worked then, but not now. It’s too late, far too late for me. I’ve already gone down this road, and I’m going to finish it.”

With that, the shotgun flashed. He never heard it go off.

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Please visit Kenneth on his website: http://kennethlawson.weebly.com

Dr. Paul’s Family Talk: Jessica V. Fisette

Dr. Paul’s Family Talk” on Impact Radio USA

Host Paul W. Reeves of “Dr. Paul’s Family Talk” on Impact Radio USA has provided many interesting and informative interviews with authors, some members of Writers Unite!, who have impacted the world of writing. We will be posting these interviews periodically so that you can enjoy listening to the experiences and advice these authors offer.

Join host and WU! admin, Paul W. Reeves as he talks with award-winning author and also an admin for WU!, Jessica V. Fisette from a show broadcast on May 2, 2018.

Click to listen to the podcast of the radio show interview:  https://pod.co/impact-radio-usa/author-jessica-v-fisette-5-2-18

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JESSICA V. FISETTE, an author from Texas, called in to talk about her books, including Fire and Ice, Crimson Frost (both from her “Aldurian Chronicles” series), The Vanquished (from her “Soul Reaper” series), as well as her others works.

​From her website: “Jessica Victoria Fisette is the author of The Soul Reaper series, Fragments, and The Aldurian Chronicles. Her hobbies include discovering the benefits of natural medicine, wine tasting, and trying new recipes in the kitchen. She likes to unwind by typing out a scene or two in her latest obsession or indulging in a good book. Having been passionate about writing since she was a little girl, she is constantly coming up with new ideas for future stories and creating unique, strongwilled—albeit flawed—characters to overcome the difficult obstacles she places before them. Having spent all her life in rural Southeast Texas, she appreciates the tranquility of country living and hopes to implement such a love for nature into her beautiful, ever-so-curious little girl.”

In addition to her writing, Jessica also serves as an admin for the Facebook writing group, Writers Unite! and it’s web counterpart, Writers Unite! on the Web.

​To learn more about Jessica V. Fisette and to order her books, please visit the following websites:

http://jessicavictoriafisette.com/

https://www.amazon.com/Jessica-Fisette/e/B017MSH1ZE%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share

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Host Paul Reeves

A product of the Detroit area, Wayne State University, and Eastern Michigan University, Paul W. Reeves, Ed.D, has spent over 30 years as a professional educator and musician, as well as his work as a radio talk show host and author.

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IMPACT RADIO USA provides the best in news, talk, sports, and music 24 hours a day, 52 weeks per year. Launched in the spring of 2017, their goal is to keep you as the most informed Internet Radio audience. Click on the link below for the station’s complete show lineup!

http://www.impactradiousa.com
(click on the LISTEN NOW button)

WU! on “Dr. Paul’s Family Talk” Podcast


If you missed Writers Unite! on “Dr. Paul’s Family Talk” on Friday here is the podcast of the segment. Join host Paul W. Reeves and WU! Admin Deborah Ratliff as they discuss the topic, “What We Read”.

What We Read!

If you would like to listen to “Dr. Paul” in its entirety (and it’s a lot of fun), you listen to this podcast of Friday’s show.

Dr. Paul’s Family Talk Friday October 4,2019

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Sarah Anne Steckel: Temple Resurgence

Welcome to Write the Story! Each month Writers Unite! will offer a writing prompt for writers to create a story from and share with everyone. WU! wants to help our members and followers to generate more traffic to their platforms. Please check out the authors’ blogs, websites, Facebook pages and show them support. We would love to hear your thoughts about the stories and appreciate your support! 

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( Please note: the images used as prompts are free-use images and do not require attribution.)  

Admin Note: Sarah continues the amazing tales of Vortex and Newo. Sarah has continued her story acorss several monthly prompts which is quite a feat. Look back through the archives for more of the adventures of Vortex and Newo!

Temple Resurgence

By Sarah Anne Steckel

“All vitals are normal, he is waking up now.”

Vortex slowly opened his eyes, his vision blurred momentarily while his eyes attempted to focus in on his surroundings. He lay strapped down to a gurney, in a solid white room with the whirring and beeping of machines all around him. Slowly he lifted his head and craned his neck around to see where the voice came from, but he was unable to see anything other than walls, machines, and a long floor-to-ceiling mirror to his right. He did a double-take at the mirror, distracted by what he saw in its reflection: a bald man strapped onto a gurney that was much too small to contain his large frame, his complexion was a shade darker than that of the sterile white walls behind him, and his eyes were solid black voids inside his skull.

Was he looking at himself? Vortex continued to stare at his reflection in disbelief. Was this really what he looked like? What was his appearance like before? What was before? Now Vortex stared at his reflection with a lost sense of judgment.

“Where am I?” he cried out to the empty room, and attempted to fight back a whimper. “…What am I?”

“You are experiment VORT-10. Created from a mix of a Flixan host and Sapien DNA… but we have begun calling you Vortex,” an androgynous voice from somewhere behind him answered.

“Experiment?” Vortex asked, finding it more alarming that the answer he received didn’t worry him in the least bit. With his voice just above a whisper, he continued to question, “how do I know this already?”

“We have been inputting these answers inside your brain from the beginning, in hopes to help subside some confusion. Can you recall your mission?”

Vortex answered even before he knew the words he needed to say. “To search out experiment NEW-00.”

“Yes, exactly. NEW-00, or simply, Newo, has become misaligned with her protocol — the same mission you have been entrusted with — to observe the primal sapien races and report back to us whether or not we should continue with our experiments on them.”

“But why experiment on them at all?”

The incorporeal voice spoke again, devoid of any emotion. “We are curious how fast we can push humanity into the modern world. The first step, which we’ve completed, is to incorporate our more advanced DNA into a select group and see how their offspring differ from the non-control group. It was Newo’s job to observe and report those findings. For the first dozen generations she was complying with protocol, but her reports have long since stopped.”

“So what, you want me to find her and realign her with the mission?”

“Somewhat. Do you know what your name stands for, Vortex?” The voice paused. “Vigilant Operator, Recovery and Termination — we want you to find her, assimilate with her for her knowledge, and then annihilate her.”

Vortex gazed at his reflection once more, but this time instead of his own image he saw that of a young woman with bright pink hair and eyes, and an olive-brown complexion. Where he was created by using a donor body from his creators, she was made from a Sapien donor. NEW-00’s image was burned into his brain, and he somehow seemed to recall it being there even before he became conscious as if it was another bit of information that his creators managed to input into his brain.

The gurney he was strapped onto began to lift him into an upright position, and his bindings began to loosen. As his bare feet touched the sterile white tile floor, he heard the impartial voice speak again behind him. “Her last report was sent from a thriving tribe in the north, over ten decades ago. We are unaware of her location now, or how the Sapiens have evolved since. Good luck, Vortex.”

A door in front of him slid open, revealing a smaller room with only a table and single chair. On the seat of the chair was a leather-bound bag filled with various forms of dried meats. On the top of the table was a neatly folded outfit made from some sort of animal hide, and a pair of sandals. Vortex looked both over before slipping the thonged sandals on his feet and then clothing his massive body with the simple attire. Once he was fully dressed and had the leather satchel in hand, a second door opened to a long hallway. A warm gust of wind traveled down the corridor, carrying the scent of warm earth and sweet flowers.

As he walked down the hallway, he could see glimpses of dust as he grew closer to the exit, and the sun momentarily blinded him as he stepped over the threshold. He turned around to look at the building that had previously housed him and frowned, finding no building at all but a tall and rocky mountain front. Curiously, he reached out and pressed the palm of his hand against a boulder, watching as it easily went through the rocky center. “A hologram, of course…”

He turned back to the barren field and shielded his eyes so he was able to look off in the distance. Along the horizon in what appeared to be the edge of a town, he saw shingled roofs with chimneys that were emitting plumes of smoke. As he trekked ever closer to the hub, the well-worn cobblestone roads became visible, as did several field hands busily working their plows. With a chuckle in his throat, Vortex said softly to himself, “They’re far off from primal, now… they appear quite civilized to me.”

Breaching the main road that led into the center of town, Vortex noticed that people all resembled the image of Newo that he ingrained in his memory; they were all short and dark in complexion. He stood an entire head and a half taller than any man that he came across in the streets, and his porcelain white skin caused him to stick out like a sore thumb amongst the tawny civilians.

As he traveled deeper along the road, he noticed several people stopping in their tracks and leering at him, some in curiosity while others were in fear. Every horrified face he looked upon caused him to become distracted from the roadway, and he failed to see the merchant and his cart in the center of town square until it was too late. Vortex bumped into the smaller man and knocked him down, startling himself.

“Oh, sorry!” he mumbled under his breath, unsure if the man could even understand him. He watched as the merchant grumbled, muttering words Vortex failed to understand under his breath before he stood and looked upon him angrily. The merchant shouted at him in a foreign language, before he noticed how much taller Vortex was, and quickly ducked behind his cart. In a non-threatening manner, Vortex raised both palms up and slowly backed away from the man, and started to walk faster down the road. He could feel the angry pairs of eyes that followed him as he continued his trek through town, and he now knew that his alien presence was unwelcome here.

As he attempted to walk back out of the gates in retreat, he was approached by two of the largest men in the village. The tops of their heads barely reached Vortex’s chin, but still, they confidently marched up to Vortex and shoved their crudely made spears at him. Raising his hands in defense, Vortex tried to talk in a soothing voice, but every time he spoke the two men grew even angrier.

“Please, I’ll leave, I’m sorry!”

“Argle snapuh! Argle snapuh! Nehow, nehow tainux!” The guards continued to shout. One of them turned their blade upon Vortex, and quickly jabbed him in the side of his abdomen. “Tainux! Tainux!”

Vortex looked down at the spearhead that was lodged in his side and groaned. He tried to take a step back in an attempt to remove the blade, but this only angered the second man who then rammed his spear through the center of Vortex’s chest. The blow knocked the wind out of him, and he found that he was unable to take another breath. His head grew heavy and his chin slumped to his chest. The last image he recalled seeing was his own blood as it poured from the hole the spear made, splattering the guard as he ripped the blade out of his chest.

Finding Newo was going to be much harder than he originally thought it was.

***

“Newo!” Vortex shouted, waking himself from his troubled sleep. Sweat poured from his brow and soaked the thin cloth of his straw pillow. He pushed back the wool blanket that covered his body and stared at the unfamiliar rafters that were above him. “Where am I…?”

Just as the confusion began to set in, he heard a gentle female voice call out from the other side of his bedroom door. “Yui? M’Yui? Pa’ua mi gueano?”

A thin, dark-haired woman entered through the doorway and gave him a concerned look. At first glance, she looked to be a young woman, but as she approached him and sat down beside him on the bed, he could see the wrinkles forming on her forehead and in the corners of her eyes. Her skin was lighter than that of the tawny men who stabbed him before, and unlike those men, she was unafraid of him, and gently placed her hand on his forehead. When she spoke in her strange language this time, Vortex realized that he fully understood her,

“Well, thankfully your fever broke, Yui.” She smiled and bent down to kiss his forehead. “You frightened me, son, I was fearing that Ma’ha was going to take you.”

“Ma’ha?” Vortex asked, confused. Slowly he sat up and lifted his shirt to examine his abdomen and chest, alarmed when he saw no signs of trauma.

The woman reached out and slapped him softly, her voice scolding. “Did that fever take your mind? How could you forget Ma’ha, our creator?”

The answers he was searching for slowly began to come to him. Ma’ha was responsible for creating all life, and gave the people a great gift. Ma’ha sent their only daughter down to help people learn, and teach them the ways of survival. She lived amongst the first tribes, they accepted her as their own, and revered her as a goddess.

Was the legend talking of his people, and how they sent Newo down to observe them? Did this mean that she went against her protocol and instead assimilated with the people? Vortex narrowed his eyes and glowered at his grey wool blanket, and he contemplated on how long it had been since he was stabbed. He lifted his shirt a second time to observe that there wasn’t a single sign that a scar even existed.

“Yui what is wrong, why do you keep looking at your chest?”

“I wasn’t stabbed in the town square, was I?”

The woman laughed softly. “What horrible fever dreams you have!”

“Mother?”

“Yes, Yui?”

“What happened to Newo?”

“You really lost your mind,” the woman chuckled softly and stood from the bed. “When she felt she was needed no longer, she climbed the great mountain and returned home.”

“Great mountain? Where is that?” Vortex threw his covers back and slowly got to his feet. As he stood, he caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror, shocked to see that his appearance was unchanged from when he walked out of the laboratory hidden inside of the hologramed rock face. As his mother approached, he noticed how alien he appeared next to her, and yet she still looked upon him with adoration. “I need to find Newo.”

“Son, are you still ill? Newo is no longer here. She is long gone.”

“No, she’s not!” Vortex took a step back and frowned. “She’s alive somewhere — I know it, I feel it inside — and I need to find her.”

“Yui, you need to calm yourself,” his mother soothed, and attempted to put her hands on his face. “You’re not well, son. The fever has robbed you of your mind.”

“No mother, I’m fully aware of what I must do. I am in my right mind, more than ever.” He spun on his heel and began to collect his clothing, and began to get dressed. Hanging on his bedpost was a leather bag, which he began filling with any items that might be useful on the road before he exited the room and began raiding the ceramic storage pots in the earthen pantry. “I must find Newo, it is my life’s mission. I will leave this instant, on a pilgrimage to find her. I must!”

“Yui! Yui please—”

“Call me that no more!” He stopped in the doorway to look upon his mother one last time and offered her a soft grin. “My name is Vortex, not Yui.”

***

Traveling through the thriving towns and villages this time around was much easier. Although Vortex still received a lot of strange looks or offensive gestures for his uncanny appearance, being able to communicate with the vast population slightly eased tensions. Through anxious conversations, he narrowed his search to one particular legendary mountain, the land there was sacred to the natives and was rarely visited. The mountain terrain was too steep for the locals to climb regularly, so they erected a temple halfway up to place their offerings to Newo.

Under the cover of night, Vortex began his trek up the steep and rocky path and decided to camp at the rickety temple until dawn. It was hidden by a barrage of slender jack pine trees and was no larger than a small shack. The heavy mountain fog that rolled in caused its slender cement walls to completely disappear amongst the darkness of night, and the only sign that the temple stood there at all was the brilliant illumination of a lantern that had been perched in the window just below the worn thatched roof. The ground inside was littered with clay jars that were filled with putrid food and the remains of animal corpses. Vortex debated on sleeping outside, but the sky opened up and began to pour rain just as he was about to make a bed on a patch of grass.

He sighed loudly and cleared a spot on the ground to sit. His feet were blistered and sore, and he was verging on mild starvation. As he rolled onto his knees, he began searching through the jars that smelled the least rank, surprised to find one filled with dried fish. With a grin he pulled out four dried flanks and bit into the salty preserved meat, chewing happily. As he leaned back, he wondered out loud to himself, “If she was climbing the mountain in an attempt to get back to our elders, I wonder if she would even come back here… Is Newo eternal? Would she come back again, as I obviously did?”

He stuck the second piece of fish into his mouth and continued, “…But why?”

“…Who are you…?”

The wary female voice caught Vortex off guard and caused him to jump. He didn’t even hear her approach, and uneasily got to his feet. With the fish still clutched in hand, he turned and faced her; her bright pink hair was tangled and hung in a mix of knots and badly woven braids. Her face was coated in mud that mostly hid her olive complexion. With one hand she clutched a torch and in the other a rusty and broken blade of a dagger.

They glared at one another, but Vortex was the first to speak, his words barely a whisper. “Newo…”

“Newo…” she repeated, her voice a hoarse whisper. Her eyes grew red, and tears began to stream down her cheeks, causing the mud over her face to streak and fall away. She took a step back, her tone growing louder as she began to rave, “Newo, Newo… Not Suri, or Kaina, Aba or Noe… I’kla, Muri, or Ahui. Newo… Newo… NEWO!”

“Newo…” Vortex repeated louder, but still soft in tone. He took a step toward her, smiled, and slowly reached out both of his hands towards her.

“Who are you?” she shouted at him, her pink eyes wild with fright. As he approached her, her grip on the broken dagger tightened and she lunged at him, plunging the rusty blade deeply into the center of his chest. She screamed savagely at him, her bright eyes boring into his own obsidian ones angrily.

“Not again…” Vortex muttered under his breath, his head slumping to his right. Newo kept constant pressure on her weapon, causing the blood to pour from his chest and puddle around him on the ground. The last thing he recalled seeing was her bright and angry gaze before his sight went black.

When his eyes opened, he lay in another unknown bed, a pale-haired woman lay naked and asleep at his side. The posts of his bed were decorated with colorful flowers, two matching crowns lay strewn on a table to the right of the bed, and an elaborate dress hung over the back of a chair. As he sat up in bed he examined his bare chest, and with little surprise this time, once again found no sign of any wound. With a heavy sigh, he got out of bed and began to dress, as the woman beside him stirred.

“Konu? Where are you going, my husband?”

“My name is Vortex,” he said firmly, his back to the woman. “And I am leaving to find Newo.”

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Please visit Sarah on Facebook.https://www.facebook.com/Sarahs-Writing-and-Art-2310272992552740/

WU! Workshop: Drabble Me This!

WU! Workshop

NEW PROJECT!

DRABBLE ME THIS!

In addition to our Write the Story project, we thought it would be fun to do something that is one of the best exercises you can do to hone your writing skills. The Drabble.

A drabble is a piece of fiction that is exactly one hundred words in length. The purpose of the drabble is to tell a complete story within limited words which encourages word choice, conciseness, and editing skills.

Drabble Me This is a monthly contest. Each Saturday of the month, we will post a single word prompt on our FACEBOOK group, Writers Unite! Members will write a 100-word story. During the week, all members will have the opportunity to “LIKE” an entry. The weekly contests will end on Friday nights, a tally taken, and the post removed. The next week’s post will go up the following Saturday morning. At the end of the month, we will post the winning  Drabbles from each week plus an Admin choice on the WU! Blog and share the post across our platforms. 

A quick history of the Drabble:  

The term itself comes from Monty Python’s 1971 Big Red Book, which declared the drabble a word game in which two to four players compete to be the first to write a novel.

Drabbles emerged within British science fiction fandom in the 1980s; the Birmingham University SF society is credited as being the organization that set the length at 100 words.

(From folklore.com)

The Drabble Me This Rules:

  • Every Saturday morning, the admins will post a single word prompt.
  • Members may submit only one 100-word drabble based on the word prompt per week. Word count must be one hundred words or entry will be deleted.
  • All members may vote by using the LIKE button only. (The other reaction emojis are invalid.)
  • On Friday night, an admin will tally the votes, the submissions saved on Google drive, and the post removed.
  • This procedure will continue each Saturday during the month.
  •  At the first of the following month, we will post the highest vote-getter from each week and an Admin choice on the Writers Unite! blog and share across our platforms. 

Please Note: 

Authors’ Words: Larry L. King

Larry L. King

Larry L. King, (Lawrence Leo King), American writer and playwright (born Jan. 1, 1929, Putnam, Texas—died Dec. 20, 2012, Washington, D.C.), was most widely known as the co-writer of the popular musical stage play The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (1977), based on a 1974 article of the same name that he wrote for Playboy magazine about the shuttering of a small bordello in southeastern Texas; the article exhibited his characteristic vivid and deeply personal writing style.

King contributed articles to various magazines, including Texas Observer (1964–74), Harper’s (1967–71), and Texas Monthly 1973–78), and several books of his collected articles were published. His other books include the memoir Confessions of a White Racist (1971).

Resources

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Larry-L-King

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Please Note: Image of Quote found on Google.com. Unable to determine origin. Credit to the creator of the image.

WRITERS UNITE! ANTHOLOGIES: DIMENSIONS OF Paranormal

Welcome to Writers Unite!’s fifth anthology volume. We invite all writers of paranormal or any writers interested in the paranormal genre to submit a story to our Dimensions of Paranormal anthology.

If you are interested in submission, you must be a member of Writers Unite! on Facebook.  If you have questions, please email writersunite16@gmail.com. 

Thank you for your interest!  

Submission information: 

  • Submissions open on October 1, 2019, at 12:01 am Eastern Time
  • Submissions close on December 31, 2019, at 11:59 pm Eastern Time
  • All stories must be emailed to the Publisher at writersunite16@gmail.com
  • Please type “Paranormal Submission” plus your name and the story title in the subject line. Each story submission must be in a separate email.

Writers Unite! Paranormal Anthology Guidelines:

Genre:  Paranormal (all subgenres)     

Rating: G, GP, R (no excessive gore or erotica)

Please click on the link below for the complete guidelines.

Paranormal Anthology Guidelines