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Charles Stucker: A Nudge in the Right Direction

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: It is only fitting that the Writers Unite! member who suggested this month’s image would be the first storyteller of the month. Enjoy.

A Nudge in the Right Direction

By Charles Stucker

Two men, floating in freefall, toiled at panels in the small cylindrical room. Just two meters across and three long, with instrument panels along the curved walls, and closed hatchways at the ends. Both were lean men in their thirties, wearing unadorned blue flight suits. The shorter kept his zipped but the taller one had his open at the collar. A dull ringing sound reverberated through the room.

“Luke, what was that?” the little man asked his partner.

“I’m checking, Al, just give me a moment.” Luke toggled a switch, then checked the new data displayed. “Neither water reclamation, nor the gas separation. I think that was an external strike.”

“I paid good money for a full set of defenses. How could we get hit by anything?” Al pushed across to look over Luke’s shoulder.

“What happened?” One door irised open to admit Terry, a broad-shouldered woman. She sailed in, catching herself, long arms bridging the gap between two panels. She hung upside down relative to the two men. “That was not the power plant or the engine.”

“Oh mighty Amazon, tell us what external examination reveals.” Al grinned at Terry.

She rolled her eyes and snapped a sketchy salute. “Aye aye mon capitan.”

Luke eyed the door after Terry left. “Why do you tease her so much? She hates big jokes.”

“Just feeling small, out here in space.” Al gave a small cough causing Luke to frown.

“You need more time on the hamster wheel.”

“I was never a jock like you and Terry. Get with her. Assess the damage.”

#

Small hard-shelled objects undulated across the uneven outer hull of the ship, tiny lights illuminating the surface. In a command center, Luke and Terry monitored the progress. Twenty robotic remotes, aided by an expert system, scanned for any rent left by the collision.

“I thought those defenses were pointless.” Terry glanced at Luke, who shrugged.

“The chance of being struck by anything larger than a grain of sand is minute. To be safe, we installed multiple protective systems.”

“Why didn’t the radar pick it up?” She pointed at the long scar visible on the image. “That tear is twelve centimeters long. It must have been over a kilo of dense metal.”

Al drifted in, his face set, deep lines around the corners of his mouth. “I checked the automatic targeting and it seems the maneuver-alert range is being used for the shoot-it range.”

Luke and Terry nodded their understanding. Software tracked radar images to a user-specified range. Large bodies had to be dodged, but medium ones could be shot. 

“Wait a second.” Luke paused, lost in thought. “We would have noticed the gun firing that often. You must have it backwards.”

“No, I have it right.” Al pointed at the screen. “With too many objects to track, the system bogs down and does nothing. We didn’t expect anything, so we never noticed.”

“We have a big CPU.” Terry looked unconvinced, but Luke stopped her.

“We’re close to a dense patch in the cloud. We’re near enough for our collision-alert radar to pick up all those fist-sized bits. Is the inner plasma layer good?”

Al nodded. Both Terry and Luke breathed a sigh of relief. The outer ship hull was composed of super metal that could survive a major impact mostly intact. The inner hull was formed of a ‘smart’ layer of silica gel which would reseal any gap in the outer composite layer. 

“We had a lot of sunspot activity.” Luke interrupted everyone’s musing. “We know the magnetic shielding had problems. Did the radiation cause any damage?”

“I designed that gel to be pretty robust.” Al waved him off. “I need to see if I can get the remotes to patch that hole.”

“You avoid any physical exertion,” Terry said. “That’s why you look so pale.”

Al and Luke stared at her receding form. She had failed to shut the hatch in her hurry to depart. Al rolled his eyes at Luke. “What is her problem?”

#

“What is it, Terry?” Luke floated facing Terry, expression serene save for the slight squint of concentration. Terry turned from the complex assembly, gauges and pipes in equal density, and silently stared at the older man. Luke ran a hand through his now graying hair. “I know you’re upset about something with Al, but I have no clue. I thought we were a bit long in the tooth for your tastes, or has the mission been that long.”

“No,” Terry snapped, then sighed. “Al looks sick, probably allergic reaction from all the treatments to help us survive the low gravity so long, but he’s skipped out the last two times I tried to get him in for an exam. On top of that, the thermocouple battery showed an unexplained increase in power output last week for over forty hours, so I’m at wits end trying to figure out what’s up with it.”

“What?” Luke shoved across the chamber and grabbed Terry’s shoulders. “How much? Did you get a full set of data? I think I know what caused it, but doubted the theory until now.”

“Doctor Wells, you’re babbling.” Terry disengaged his hands, moving them to a grab bar. “What caused the battery to run hot?”

“Standing gravity waves excited the nuclei of the plutonium.” His eyes gleamed and darted. Terry could see the calculations behind his eyes. Dr. Lucas Wells was one of the big brains. The inventor Albert Taylor, and a group of investors Al knew, financed the whole mission to test some critical theory of Wells. Terry possessed the rare combination of nuclear engineer and physician needed for the mission. She had intended to study radiation health safety issues, but the chance to work with such prominent men convinced her to apply for the flight. Then it hit her.

“Al has radiation sickness.” She pushed off, flowing through the ship like an otter. Luke could barely make out her words as she sped away. “I know the RTG is supposed to be perfectly safe, but exciting the nuclei could result in gamma output.”

Luke caught up to Terry in the middle of her confrontation with Al, who was vehemently refusing to admit anything was wrong. “I’ve still got too much to do to take off an hour for your test.”

“Let Terry take a blood sample. That’s under a minute.” Luke cornered him as much as possible with the curved wall. “She’ll have your blood pressure, heartbeat, respiration rate and temperature in that same time. Only if something turns up will you have to go through a full workup. Fair enough?”

Al nodded and Luke left for another part of the ship while Terry produced her medical pouch.

#

“We have a problem.” Terry interrupted Luke, who looked up from the readout on his experiments. Seeing she had his attention, Terry continued, “Despite the vaccine, Al has lymphatic cancer. Probably a result of a failure in the magnetic shielding. I’ve isolated the damaged DNA segment. We need to make an emergency return.”

“Al makes those calls,” Luke said. “Get a message back to SPS. See where their resources are so we can coordinate our return if he does make the call, but we won’t have their return data for at least fourteen hours. I’m fairly certain the optimal return will involve our scheduled rendezvous with the Hunt fuel tank, but I’ll get the analysis ready so we can have everything in hand.”

“And until then you’ll keep on with your experiment as if nothing were wrong.” Terry waved around the chamber, filled with twisted tubes, combustible gas storage and monitoring sensors. “I thought he was your best friend.”

“Nothing I do will change whether Al lives or not, but if this experiment succeeds, he’ll get a full share of the credit for any breakthrough.” Luke bit his lip, then continued, “I don’t intend to let this chance slip away. This whole trip has been an effort to get far enough out to be subject primarily to galactic gravitational curvature rather than solar. By the time we optimize our return, the tests will be nearly finished. Even if we cut short, we might have enough data to justify another expedition. There’s even a chance we’ll have enough to test some of the competing cosmological theories, especially with the supporting data on gravitational standing waves from our battery. Do you understand?”

“I never understood how a test of gaseous combustion would do anything, but hey it was my chance to get on a deep-space probe.” Terry put gentle a hand on Luke’s shoulder. “If we don’t get back to better care than can be provided from the ship’s resources, Al has a one in three chance of dying in the next three months.”

#

Terry observed Al, strapped to the single bed of the small compartment, and the readouts of the monitors above him. Luke entered behind her, crowding the room to look past to Al’s pale sweaty face. He popped up a holoscreen to display two different flight paths. “We have a choice. We can turn around right now, using the capacitors and rail launch to convert every scrap of extra mass to delta vee. Combined with an optimum high-speed return on the fuel which we would otherwise use to rendezvous with the Hunt module, then a bungee stop for the three of us means we can meet up with a ship from SPS in eighty-seven days. If we remain and complete the experiments, then make rendezvous with the Hunt tank, the extra fuel will allow us to make a separate rendezvous in one hundred and four days. Terry tells me the extra seventeen days will drop your survival chance from eighty five percent to around seventy. You need to make a decision within two hours.”

“You know me Luke, no guts no glory.”

“More like no brain no pain,” Terry muttered, then shooed out Luke. “I’ll see to my patient. You get all your experiments run, meet that fuel tank and get us back. And you might pray for your friend.”

#

“You’re looking good, Al.” Al, again in a ship suit, joined Luke in a forward chamber, where the lanky physicist operated the arm to dock with the Hunt fuel tank. Launched thirty years earlier on speculation by venture capitalists who hoped to collect premium prices from researchers who did not care to launch their own round-trip fuel reserves, Hunt corporation bought them when the original group found they were undercapitalized. Al deftly took Luke’s place operating the arm, he was far more capable with the remotes, and quickly guided the arm to rotate the Hunt cylinder to bring the access port alongside their ship. Luke spotted a dark gash on the tank. “I thought we confirmed this tank still had fuel.”

“That’s what Huntcorp said, but I doubt we’ll live long enough to register a complaint.” Al directed and the huge mechanical arm pulled the canister alongside. “Can we at least cut it into scraps and launch them to get some momentum?” 

“I’ll start the calculations. You get the bots to start dissecting that can,” Luke began, then stopped himself. “Wait, that’s retarded. Without the steady acceleration we could get from the missing fuel it will take years, perhaps decades, to return on any initial velocity we might impart.”

“Thanks for reminding me why we put up with you.” Al chuckled, then bent with a racking cough. Recovering he added, “I won’t get back, but I have faith in Terry. She can keep your CHON recycling going and you two will survive. Best we can do.”

“Al,” Luke stood flummoxed, “I, uh, I mean…”

“Survive. Finish your proof. Win a Nobel. Heck, marry Terry and have a lot of kids if that floats your boat.” Al turned back to the arm controls. “Because I will so kick your lazy behind if you give up now.”

#

Terry and Luke stared at the small bundle wrapped in the last of the scrap metal as it shot down the magnetic launch rail. The ship’s mass had been reduced so much that a tremor could be felt through hands that gripped support rails. Terry’s free left hand crept out and clasped Luke’s shoulder. Turning toward him, she noted his red-rimmed eyes, slightly obscured by the graying brown forelock which waved across them, the only outward sign of what she knew must be terrible grief. She had known Al Taylor for only the nineteen months of the journey, but they had grown up together, gone to the same college and kept in touch until the fateful day they decided to explore the farthest reaches of the solar system, all to gather data for Wells’ theory. 

“We can talk if you want,” she offered, hoping he would take the chance.

“Not for long. With only two of us and a remaining mission time of over nine years, we have to keep busy with maintenance to have any hope of survival.” He gave her a knowing look. “What do you want to ask?”

“Why did you two come out here anyway? With modern medicine, you can live forever, and you both had the money to pay for it.” She waved about at the ship. “How can you justify the resources you used, the life you cost, the risk to ours?”

Luke sighed and turned to a set of controls, talking as he worked with the robotic remotes to check for minute damage to the skin of the ship. “Space exploration is hazardous. Al and I knew the risks. We took them, just like we used the resources that might have fed a village for years because we believed the data would help make life better for everyone. We personally came because we wanted to get a little adventure before we were too old. Sure our bodies can be kept young, but people become cautious as they age, and all the medicine won’t change that.”

“Was it worth the cost?” Terry bit her lip. She knew she should put Al’s death behind her, but it ate at her confidence, and she worried that the quirky magnetic shielding would fail again before they completed the mission and they would take lethal doses of radiation. Luke paused in his inspection and gave her his full attention.

“You must have read about how, when the physics of the combustion shock tube got analyzed, it changed everything. Not just industry, making combustion processes so much more efficient, but physics.”

Terry recalled reading how the discovery that the high pressure shock wave left a vacuum in its wake upset a lot of classical views about conservation of momentum until a clever physicist pieced together a solution involving gravitational fields. She didn’t follow the math, but understood that the effect was to allow a large body to absorb momentum in a gaseous combustion, leaving virtually all of the kinetic energy with the combusting molecules. She nodded and Luke continued.

“We came out to the edge of the solar system to get into the area where galactic gravity dominates. Al inspires me, sorry inspired, with his insightful questions, even when he’s fuzzy on the math. We conducted a set of shock-tube experiments outlined fifty years ago, but I ran a series, with each new test case based on analysis of the one preceding. The communication lag of over fifteen hours round trip meant I really needed to be here. I needed Al’s help, and he gave it even when he was coughing his lungs out.” Terry saw the tears gathering in Luke’s eyes and floating away, drops of pain in the ship’s air. “But we did it. We got what we wanted.”

“Which was?”

“I already sent the data and full analysis back to Earth. This is what everyone has dreamed about since the early days of space flight, a method for reactionless drive. This one trip will push open the future for the entire system, for all humanity. I think that’s a fine legacy for Al.”

End

Author’s note – some of this is now dated because I wrote it before I determined how to build the PRD second type engine.

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Please visit Charles on his Facebook author page:  https://www.facebook.com/Charles-Stucker-103988060951288/

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Stephanie Angelea: Three Pigs and a Gypsy

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.) 

Three Pigs and a Gypsy 

By Stephanie Angelea 

Sometimes, the richest people in the country are the poorest. They are the ones who leave their families for the fellow man devoting their lives to people they’ve never met or shaken hands with at the corner cafe. They are the ones who are courageous and brave protecting a great nation in its many battles overseas and at home. For many, it’s a career choice. For others, there was the draft. Fighting in the deepest jungles of Vietnam, for example, four men climbed the ranks from the lowly grunt man to hold important positions, and the government listened to what they had to say without question. Three squares a day with medical and an education for a trade job was a dazzling opportunity no one could pass on, drafted or not. Uncle Sam wanted them and welcomed them with open arms, promising a bright future. A reward for their strength and loyalty. A loyalty that would soon come at a price of blood and death and neglect as the enemy advanced closer, testing the wits of entire units full of soldiers armed with machine guns and knives. The men kissed their loved ones on tattered photos and wore scarves around their necks to remember their wives or girlfriends. Death was everywhere and betrayal didn’t stray far from the barracks. No one bothered to unpack because the enemy was always near to run them out. 

“Dig deep down into that black heart of yours and find that kindness button, Hanky! You need to turn it on and show some serious love for these men so we can get the Hell outta here! By god, when we reach another safe zone, I’ll beat the shit outta you myself, you cranky bastard!” yelled John Pearltree. “Barrett and Vano both are on the verge of killin’ you and I’ve thought about it. I know you to act better!” 

“I can’t help it, I got so caught up in my investigation to find the TRUTH that I forgot to be nice and coddle everyone! The VC was on our ASS, damnit! Lt. Dandry gave them our positions with his back-alley drug deals that got him killed anyhow. It took me a while to find out who was doing what to whom!” scowled Hanky Thompson. “AND, I was trying not to DIE!” 

Captain Pearltree rolled his beady eyes and punched Inspector Thompson. He fell hard to the ground, banging his head on the concrete slab in front of his office. Blood gushed from his temple. The soldiers stopped what they were doing to rush over and watch the commotion, immediately applauding their captain. “Get up you old fool! You know we admire your ass but you get that CORNCOB OUT OR ELSE!” he laughed, angrily shaking the hand of his old friend. 

“Oorah!” the soldiers hooted, stomping their feet. 

“You made me bleed!” Hanky sneered, holding a handkerchief over the wound. 

“You’ll be all right. Ain’t nothin’ harder than your head!” John replied, patting his back. 

Their voices faded and you could hear a pin drop for the briefest moment as tears rolled down their wrinkled faces. John Pearltree, Hanky Thompson, Barrett Lee, and Vano Young warmed their cold hands over the fire barrel. Barrett’s laughter broke the silence of the alleyway between Marlee’s Juicer House and the old abandoned theatre on the corner that stood every bit of ten stories tall. 

“Shhhh, you’ll wake the others, Barrett,” John fussed. 

“Sorry. That story is still funny after all these years,” Barrett softly spoke. “Those were the good ol’ days.” 

“Yeah, at my expense,” cranked Hanky, turning to Vano. “Vano, Esther didn’t come home last night. She’s not in her box and all her stuff is still there. If she were going to move on down the block, looks like she would have taken her stuff, especially with it being so cold,” he continued. 

Vano Young was not only a brave soldier but was at one time an accomplished guitarist playing in numerous bands before he was drafted for the war. As a lone Gypsy, he took a likeness to the others right off and they to him. “I’ll ask Mark to go look for her. We’ll find her, Hanky,” he assured him. 

There they stood in all their glory wearing old jackets full of medals pinned sideways and huddling around the burn barrels watching tourists drift by the narrow eye of their dark home. It was lined with large packing boxes big enough for a body to seek shelter in and tents draped over shopping carts tied to the rusted railings of the fire escapes between the buildings. 

It was early morning and the busy streets of New York were already bustling with taxis and commuters speeding to work. Snooty couples took selfies to commemorate Memorial Day, posting videos “In honor of our soldiers who have fought and are fighting for our freedom! Thank you so much from the bottom of our hearts! Let’s honor them! Share this video. Hi!” They’d wave, yelling into their rectangular device. 

“If you want to honor some veterans, there’s at least sixteen of them down this alleyway here! I’ll take you to meet them and you can honor them like in your video,” snapped a tired-looking woman holding folders and a briefcase. 

“Ughhh, bitch!” the tourists scoffed, walking away. 

“You better lose that attitude! I know people!” she screamed at them. 

“Doris, why are you causing trouble so early in the morning?” a police officer asked her, leaning against his patrol car. 

“They called me a bitch, Stan! Really! Me!” she howled. 

“Well, I have known you to be a bit grouchy without your coffee,” he replied. 

“What brings you out this way. My vets in trouble?” asked Doris, breathing into her hands. 

“We received some more complaints about them from tourists and passersby.” He hesitated to proceed. “Mr. Jacobs, the owner of these buildings, is supposed to meet me here.” 

“Sorry to interrupt but I heard my name. I’m Mr. Jacobs. I own these two buildings,” he introduced himself, handing papers to Officer Stan. “I find it odd that so many people have an interest in defending my buildings against homeless people who risked their lives so their mommies and daddies could stay home with them. I mean, it wouldn’t matter if they were veterans or not. I own the buildings and I’m not complaining about them. I haven’t heard any complaints from Marlee either.” 

“I knew my ears were burning, Ted. I saw your lanky self stroll by my window pane,” Marlee sassed. 

“Morning, Marlee. How are you?” asked Ted, kissing her hand. 

“Oh fabulous!” she replied. “Doris, I made everyone their morning fruit and veggie soup plus coffee. The soup is loaded with nutrients and should keep them hydrated and full of energy. It’s so cold out but they can warm themselves by the fires and drink coffee. I packed plenty of styrofoam cups. I also brought more burn barrels for them too and had Freddie put them out. Most of them are so old.” 

“Who are you calling old, missy!” yelled Hanky. 

Horns honked around them, and pedestrians crossing the street yelled at the drivers for not yielding to them and flicked them a bird finger. The daylight was full and the sun shined bright with warmth. Barrett, Vano, and John followed Hanky to the sidewalk, curious to know why a cop and a suit were talking to Marlee and Doris. 

“Sorry, I didn’t mean ‘old,’” Marlee laughed. 

“She made y’all some soup and coffee. It’s different fruit and veggie soup,” Doris said, organizing her papers. 

“Here you go, Hanky. It should be enough for everyone. I hate it’s cold soup again but it’s all I had. Fruits and veggies are becoming so scarce and expensive,” sighed Marlee. “I also made you all some morning coffee. It’s organic coffee but should help warm your core.” 

“Don’t worry your pretty little head about that. We are all grateful to eat and drink something hot. Only a few of us are awake but I want to thank you from the bottom of the heart for all of us,” said John. 

He graciously hugged Marlee and handed the soup baskets and thermos canisters of coffee to Barrett, who distributed them out to each living station, waking the occupants. 

“Miss Marlee, we will surely return all these empties tomorrow,” Vano assured her. 

“I know, sweetie. I know.” She petted him, Vano being her favorite, both being Gypsies and all. Vano would catch her watching him in the alleyway when he played his guitar, and he didn’t mind because he fancied her too. 

Doris pulled Vano aside showing him some of her papers. “I need to get more data on some in your group to put into my system so I can find shelters and apartments for everyone to go to. This data is so vital in keeping up with everyone. Is Esther and Amanda still asleep or have they already made out?” Doris asked. 

“Amanda is up but Esther didn’t come home last night. I sent Mark to look for her,” replied Vano. 

“Did I hear you mention Esther?” asked Officer Stan. “She’s actually why I’m here. I came to let you know she was killed by a car late last night. I don’t know if she was headed here or what, but she missed the curb and fell into the street. A speeding car wasn’t able to stop in time. I came to see if one of you would accompany me to the morgue for identification and so that I can give you her belongings.” 

Everyone gasped and tears began to run down Doris and Marlee’s cheeks. 

“Oh no! Poor woman,” Mr. Jacobs exclaimed. 

“The ME said it was quick so hopefully she didn’t feel anything too much,” stated Officer Stan.

“I’ll go with you,” exclaimed Vano. 

“I’ve got to get back. Denise will have my hide if I leave her alone with the customers too long. She tends to fuss at them,” Marlee snickered. 

Marlee Campbell was a spirit-filled Gypsy woman who owned her Juicer business for eleven years now, renting from Mr. Ted Jacobs. Her health declined back in 2016, so she decided to get healthy and go raw vegan with a few secret cooked meals of healthy choices. Every day, with the help of Denise, Marlee made fruit and veggie soup for the homeless veterans and coffee. Many begged to live between the two buildings but there was no more room, but Marlee and Denise would still help those who could make it to them for food and coffee. One time a day was all they could do and everyone was always grateful. At nights, the soup kitchen down the block served hot soup and cornbread, staying open for a couple of hours after Marlee’s Juicer House closed, but they were not as nice as Marlee and Denise who were always kind. 

“Marlee, may I join you?” Doris asked. “Do you have the Zinger made yet? I love that breakfast Juicer. It’s my favorite.” 

“Yes ma’am, I sure do! Come on in,” Marlee excitedly invited her. 

“Suck up!” Officer Stan hollered at Doris as he escorted Vano to the front seat of his patrol car. 

Doris laughed at him and stuck her tongue out. 

“Officer Stan, if it’s ok, I’d like to stay and talk with the veterans for a while,” Ted pleaded. 

“Sure, come by the station when you’re done,” Officer Stan replied. 

Officer Stan hustled his car into the busy streets and a couple of truck drivers urged him on ahead. No one wanted to upset a policeman. 

“Hi, my name is Mr. Jacobs. What’re your names?” he asked. 

Hanky was the first to respond. “I’m Hanky Thompson. This is Barrett Lee. This is John Pearltree. Vano Young is the veteran who went with Officer Stan. I don’t know his last name. I’ve just always heard him called Officer Stan,” Hanky continued, while everyone shook hands with Mr. Jacobs. 

“How did y’all end up here?” asked Mr. Jacobs. 


“It’s a long story, but my wife took everything I had worked for and left me for my brother. John’s family moved away and left him stranded—he’s not heard from them since. Barrett’s bunch was killed by a car bomb in front of the patio where they dined—he never recovered from it when we returned home from the war, and Vano is a lone Gypsy who kind-of took a shine to us in the war, and we’ve not been able to shake that guitar playing fool yet,” Hanky laughed. “We were all MPs but when we retired and returned home, there wasn’t much left for us here. We weren’t exactly welcomed back with open arms with a job lined up or families to come home to. Since we were police veterans, a lot of the pedestrian hoodlums called us pigs and yelled hateful stuff. They still do sometimes but we’ve been homeless for so many years now, it doesn’t bother us,” he continued. 

“My father was Derrick Jacobs. He was homeless before he married my mother and she helped him learn a trade. It was the best time in his life when he saw her beautiful smile for the first time,” Ted reminisced. 

“He was lucky to have come across her. Is he still alive?” asked John. 

“No sir. He died many years ago but he bought these buildings when he retired from stock trading. I inherited them from him,” Ted went on. “I do know that I want to help all of you, if you will allow me to.” 

“What are you going to do with this building, Mr. Ted?” asked Hanky. 

“Well, seeing that many of you on these blocks need a place to stay and Marlee’s building floors sit vacant—I know she needs help—why don’t we turn it into a shelter for all of you to manage under the supervision of one of y’all, and everyone can work together and help Marlee and Denise,” Ted excitedly offered. 

“Are you sure? It’ll be a great upfront expense,” stated Barrett. 

“I know exactly how we can generate an income so everyone can pay for themselves and maintain the upkeep of the two buildings,” John responded. 

“How in the Sam Hill are we gonna manage that!” Hanky barked. 

“He has no faith in anything. He’s a grumpy old fool! Ignore his ass!” joked John. 

“Here is my card. You get with Officer Stan and y’all let me know what all you need and we will go from there. Here is the extra set of keys I’m entrusting y’all with, and also let Marlee know what’s going on and help tend to what she needs, if that’s all right with y’all,” Ted said, giving John the keys. 

“You trust us with the keys to your building? asked Barrett. 

“It’s not like you’re going to steal it and there are at least three people who have basically vouched for you—a cop, a Juicer owner, and a government caseworker. I don’t think I need any better references than that,” Ted Jacobs laughed. “I’ve gotta run. I’m late for a meeting. I also have three more empty buildings over the next few blocks, if you would like to set those up for people and get them off the streets.” 

“Bless you Mr. Ted. How will we ever repay you?” Hanky asked, tearing up. 

“Make sure everyone is taken care of, follow your friend’s plan and trust in him, and everything will repay itself,” Ted replied, shaking their hands and disappearing into the street filled with cars, utility vehicles, and angry New Yorkers. 

Six months later: 

Spring arrived and the warmth of the evening breeze carried the scents of Jasmine and Lilies throughout the city streets. Everywhere you looked, the mood of the temperamental travelers changed as they stopped to smell the flowers blooming in the window planters outside Marlee’s Juicer House, which had closed early for the evening to celebrate the after-wedding reception next door. The patio furniture was painted white, with turquoise centerpieces on the table and an archway of red roses decorated the doorway. Barrett strung some patio lights of twinkle stars earlier in the day. 

The beauty inside the old dilapidated building from its transformation was remarkable with the first floor sporting a vegan store of microgreens, fruits and veggies, plus herbs to homemade soaps and body bars like you would buy in the country at their Spring Festivals. The rest of the floors were renovated and painted a more homey color with everyone pitching in with specific duties, making it a wonderful sleeping/communal living area. The rooftop connected to Marlee’s Juice House and both were turned into luscious gardens for the stores below. Never again would there be a shortage of fruits and veggies for their soups, nor would the coffee pot have time to empty before a fresh pot was made. 

Out of the ruins, came the gardens. Out of animosity, came love and friendship. A piece of the country that four friends brought together from stubbornness and an agricultural knowledge that only three pigs and a Gypsy could have. 

“Stan, you got yourself a handful with Miss Doris but she’s a keeper!” Ted remarked jumping up on the corner curb. 

“Yes siree, I know that for sure,” Officer Stan replied, as he danced and kissed his beautiful new bride under the starry lights. 

“By golly, I am truly amazed at what you’ve done with the place. Both of them. They definitely needed a facelift. I’m just envious too at the profit you’re turning out of it with the nature store! Kudos!” said Ted, shaking the hands of John, Barrett, and Hanky. “In a million years, I never would have guessed something like this would do so well. Awesome job guys,” he continued. 

“Thank you, Mr. Ted. Everyone pitched in and we are all employed here making the products from scratch, and we’ve shown everyone how we learned to grow food in Vietnam. The other buildings you have up the block are of the same setup. They are doing well too. Those who live in Marlee’s building help her and Denise, so that’s a huge load off Miss Marlee and she is in better health,” said John proudly. “She and Vano will wed next month.” 

“Awww, yes. The sly bugger is serenading her on the far patio with my mom’s favorite song from Gypsy Kings—Djobi Djoba. A beautiful love song,” Ted said, humming its words and grabbing the arms of a pretty blonde and spinning her around the crosswalk. 

Laughter filled the corner blocks of New York’s busy streets where the restaurant chefs raced each morning to buy the fresh produce and herbs for their daily menus. The city life finally took a shine to them, including the tourists who came from all over to see the old veterans and the others who were homeless, featuring them in their videos like part of the family and gave them hugs every day. They were homeless veterans who were stripped of their families long ago, but the faith of a few brought them new ones.

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Tanja Cilia: The Stranger at the Crossroads

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.) 

The Stranger at the Crossroads

By Tanja Cilia

You know what they say about truth being stranger than fiction? Well, you can believe it’s true.

So there I was, convalescing in Rome, reading Murder on the Orient Express, while on one of those buses that have the middle like an accordion so they can go around corners. Bendy buses, I think they call them.

I was thinking that this would have been the ideal vehicle on which to kill someone — you just sit at the back, with a potential victim, when all the people are in the front half, and do the deed. Then you alight from the door serving the hind part of the vehicle, and Bob’s your uncle.

And then it happened. You know how in another book — or was it another film? — Miss Marple saw a man strangle a woman on another train, and since a body was not found the police assumed she was rambling, what with being old and all? We were just nearing Le Quattro Fontane (the Four Fountains) — that group of four Late Renaissance fountains located at the intersection of Via delle Quattro Fontane and Via del Quirinale, the most famous crossroads of the world — or so the Italians say.

Well — I happened to look out of the window and I saw a bus coming the other way, and — suddenly — I saw a woman stand up, thump a man on the head with what looked like a frying pan, and then she just rolled him out of the emergency door. I gasped and followed the body with my eyes.

Suddenly, from behind the sill of the Fountain of Diana (the only one of the four, as I recall, designed by the painter and architect Pietro da Cortona, for the rest were the work of the fortuitously-named Domenico Fontana), up jumped a man dressed in black from head to toe. He sneezed, and put his little fingers to his lips — I am assuming he whistled in that shrill chav way I hate so much. A Black Maria-like car drew up, the driver hopped out, and together they half-pulled, half-lifted the man into the back. Hecate would have been proud of them.

Our bus rounded a corner — I rang the bell but the driver did not stop. I ran to the front of the bus, but I could not make the driver understand what I wanted him to do. My Italian is patchy at the best of times, and he kept saying something like “Espresso, diretta, non posso fermarmi.” I couldn’t have cared less about his offer of coffee when we got to the terminus — I just wanted him to stop, so I said “Polizia,” and he said something that sounded like “My my my!” and I thought he was telling me I was making a fuss.

Of course, the nuns at the Convent of Saint Elisabeth, at whom I was staying, saw how shaken I was, and they understood what I was saying because a couple of them spoke almost perfect English. They explained that I had inadvertently caught the direct line that did not stop. What the driver had really said was “Mai!” which means “never.”

So they drove me to the police station where I made a report about what I had seen. They found the body a week later, when they dredged the section of the Tiber nearest the place I indicated, weighted and dumped. Later on, the full story was splashed across the papers, on all three RAI television stations and on the Mediaset ones too. The woman was an Albanian hooker, and the man she attacked had been her pimp. The man at the crossroad was her boyfriend — an ex-client who wanted to give her a better life and had hatched the plan. The pimp had been threatening to have her deported, because she was not earning him enough money, and she did not want to go back home.

I had to stay in Italy longer than I planned, but since I was a key witness I was given free board and lodging for the extra fortnight I remained; and of course, my Italian improved no end, in that short period. For a time, I was quite the media star.

This is weird, considering that I am a Maltese nun.

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Please visit Tanja on her blog: https://paperjacketblog.wordpress.com/

Lynn Miclea – “Window to the Future”

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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“Window to the Future”

by Lynn Miclea

Aliya brushed the hair out of her face as she walked up the grassy incline. She had wanted to climb to the top of the hill in her neighborhood and see the view for months now. Her breathing heavy and ragged from exertion, she was finally here. A shiver of anticipation ran through her as she neared the crest.

Looking up, her eyes opened wide and she stared at the view at the top of the hill. A ruin was there — part of one, anyway. Just the window was left from some unknown structure. It looked ancient and powerful and she felt drawn to it.

Although exhausted from her hike, and still breathing heavily, she moved toward it, her arms outstretched. Something about it felt awe inspiring and even personal. She needed to be closer to it.

The overwhelming power of the window washed over her as she got near enough to touch it. Tentatively, she reached a trembling hand to the stone. It felt warm and rough, and she placed her hand flat on the rock. Closing her eyes, she took a deep breath.

When she opened her eyes, the view through the ancient window had shifted. Her brow furrowed as she tried to comprehend what she was seeing. Through the window was a barren wasteland. The ground was parched and devoid of life. There were no trees, plants, birds, animals, or people. Just empty, scorched dirt — as though a huge fire or a war had blown through the area.

“What am I seeing?” she whispered to the window.

A voice in her head answered. You are seeing the future of Earth. Years from now, war and greed will have destroyed all life on the planet. However, this can be prevented. It is not too late. The one who can see this is the one who can change it and save the planet. We have been waiting a long time for you to arrive.

Aliya looked around but saw no one. She looked back at the window. “Who are you?”

We are the gatekeepers of the world. We have been trying to save your planet, but we cannot do it alone.

“But … but I don’t know what to do. How can I save Earth?”

There is a piece missing in the wall surrounding the window. A vital piece that has come loose and fallen out. The missing piece that will save the planet.

“What piece? Where is it? How do I find it?”

It is a crystal that is vital to mankind. In fact, it is vital to all life on Earth. You must find it, plug it back into the wall, and close the loophole that has developed. That loophole created the wars, the greed, the hatred, the fighting, the emptiness, and the catastrophes that have befallen the planet.

“But how do I find this crystal?”

You will know where to look. It is in your possession. It needs to be placed in the wall before the window closes completely and disappears — then it will be too late.

“What kind of crystal?”

You will know it when you see it. You know where it is. Hurry. We are running out of time.

Aliya removed her hand from the wall and took a step back. Was she imagining everything she heard? How would she know what crystal or where it was?

She glanced at the window and the view was back to the way it was before. She could see the blue sky, a few clouds, and the other side of the hill. Her eyes followed a dirt path leading down the hill to a long stretch of beach which lined a huge dark blue ocean. It was hard to tear her eyes away from the view.

After a few minutes, she slowly turned and ran back the way she had come, going back to her home. An urgency gnawed at her, and she felt that the voice in her head was real. She had to help. But how?

Something pulled her to the closet in her bedroom. She wasn’t sure why, but she opened the closet door and immediately picked up a small wooden box from the floor. Treasures she had been given by her grandfather when he was still alive. She smiled, remembering the smell of sawdust and tools on him, and the jangling of keys that always hung from his belt.

Sitting on the side of her bed, she slowly opened the box. Folded papers, a marble, and a few coins greeted her eyes. And there on the side — what was that? A pink stone — rose quartz. A crystal of love. She didn’t remember seeing it there before. Did she simply forget about it?

The crystal began vibrating and emitting a low hum. She instantly knew. Deep inside, without a doubt — this was it. This was what was missing and what was needed.

She picked up the smooth, pink crystal and held it in her hand. It was cool to the touch, but it warmed up as it sat in her hand. She felt the vibration move through her. Goosebumps rose all over her body. She knew what she had to do.

She ran outside, down the street, through the field, and back to the grassy hill. She climbed up to where she was before. The stone window was there. She felt an urgency within her.

She approached the window and held up the rose quartz. “Is this it? Is this what was missing?”

Yes. That is the missing piece. The energies of love and compassion have been lost from humanity as mankind turned its back on this force. But this energy is vital for the survival of all life. Without it, the world and all life forms will perish. Time is running out.

“Where do I put this?”

Look for it. You will find it. You will know.

Aliya pulled her hair back and stepped closer to the window. She ran her hands over the rough stones. On the inside ledge on the left side, a gaping hole stared back at her. A deep black emptiness emanated from it. That must be it.

Trembling, she reached forward, her fingers shaking as they held the crystal. She inched it closer. A sudden flash of white light arced from the crystal into the black hole, and the rose quartz slid into place with a soft click.

“Is that what I was supposed to—”

The window vibrated, and she felt the rumbling through the ground under her feet. Bright light flashed through the window and her hand came up to shield her eyes.

After a few moments, a sense of peace settled around her and she opened her eyes and looked through the window. A vast field of pink and yellow flowers greeted her. A rabbit ran through, twitched its nose, and then hopped away. Tall trees shimmered in the distance, their lacy leaves dancing in a light breeze. Two birds sang as they flew past in the sky.

Aliya blinked. The window shimmered and shifted back to the original view. Blue sky, a few clouds, and the grassy hill on the other side.

She stared at the view for a few minutes. “Am I done?”

Yes. You were the only one who could do this. And time was closing fast. We thank you.

“But who are you? Can I see you?”

You will see us soon enough.

A flash of light burst through the window. The stones shimmered for a few moments and then collapsed into a heap. The window was gone. A small pile of old rocks sat in the grass where the window had been just moments before.

She stood there for a few more minutes.

“Are you still here?”

The only answer was the whisper of a breeze as it rustled the weeds at the top of the hill.

She turned and slowly made her way back down the hill and through the field toward her house.

As she approached the door to her home, the wind picked up, and the breezed turned into a whisper.

We are always here.

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Copyright © 2019 Lynn Miclea. All Rights Reserved.

Please also visit Lynn’s blog, like the story there, and follow her at – https://wp.me/p4htbd-oC

Please also visit Lynn’s website for more information on her books – https://www.lynnmiclea.com/

Susan Staneslow Olesen: Lost

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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Lost

By Susan Staneslow Olesen


The truck arrived
And took your things
But not the chair,
The one you promised me
When I was six
And didn’t know nice people
Didn’t talk about death
Or ask for people’s treasures
While they were still alive.

The paneled maple walls
And hand-hewn floors
Echo with your voice,
Your shuffling footsteps.
Your house that was
Your grandma’s house,
That was her grandma’s house,
The one you’ve left to me.

Some might restore the floors
Paint the walls
Tile the fireplace
Reap that market value.
I want the room as it is,
History-etched walls,
Your chair by the yellow-warm fire,
Waiting for your tea.
What is worth restoring
If I can’t restore you?

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Write the Story: February 2019 Collection


Paula Shablo: An Unexpected Homecoming

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 note to readers :

This is not a Pro-Life or a Pro-Abortion story. This is an attempt to highlight the many misunderstandings that can occur when people jump to judgment without having all the facts.

Things happen. Take a breath.

An Unexpected Homecoming

By Paula Shablo

She hadn’t expected to love the place, but for Maggie it was instant infatuation. She hugged Josh enthusiastically, and held up their infant son. “Look, Johnny,” she cooed. “We’re home.”

Josh looked less enthused, but admitted grudgingly, “It has…potential.”

Getting home had been a painful process of misunderstandings, outright prosecution and near-bankruptcy.

Johnny had been the center of a controversy that Maggie still could not wrap her head around. She had suffered with severe toxemia in the latter part of her pregnancy, had been hospitalized, and had elected to have an emergency Cesarean section in her 30th week due to the dangers of continuing the pregnancy to term.

Her medical record stated: “Patient elects to terminate pregnancy at this time.”

Her medical record further recorded the Cesarean birth of her son, and that he was delivered alive and transported to NICU for further care, but the anti-abortion mole working in medical records, and stealing information in charts so that protesters could target women who had abortions, hadn’t read past that sentence fragment: “terminate pregnancy…”

Protesters had Maggie’s name and hospital room number and showed up in droves to persecute her, accompanied by members of the Press.

Bewildered and frightened hospital staff had them removed by police immediately, but the damage was done. Stories of law-breaking by medical staff made headlines. Maggie and a few other unfortunate women had their names brandished about on protest signs, declaring them murderers of the worst kind.

During all this, Maggie sat in the NICU, stroking her son’s cheek, singing to him and thanking God for every ounce gained. She pumped milk so he’d have the best nutrition possible. She was released in good health after a couple of weeks but rarely left the hospital.

After all, she had nowhere else to go.

Josh had lost his job shortly before Maggie became too ill to continue the pregnancy, and with that loss came the loss of their medical insurance. They’d been forced to sell their house and one of their cars in order to pay for many unexpected bills.

The mole was caught and arrested for violating privacy policies.

The protesters ignored any evidence that refuted their zealous vendetta and continued to chant and brandish their signs.

Redacted news stories clearing the hospital and Maggie of any “wrong-doings” appeared in the back pages and the mostly ignored television news banner feeds, and did no damage control whatsoever.

All the bad publicity took a toll on Josh’s job search, and he wasn’t able to secure employment again until just before Johnny was finally ready to go home.

Josh rented the one-bedroom flat sight unseen, borrowing money for the deposit from his mother. He picked up the keys from the realtor and went to the hospital to pick up his family.

When he and Maggie exited the hospital that afternoon, a protester recognized Maggie and screamed, “That’s her! Murderer!”

Maggie, finished with all the false accusations, screamed back, “My baby is alive and well, you vultures! Go to hell!”

The nurse quickly ushered the little family back inside and locked the door.

The next time they exited the building, it was with a police escort. Protesters swarmed about, wanting to see the “miracle baby.” Some were so enthusiastic in their approaches that they were given an immediate trip downtown to the Police station. Maggie and Josh were more than happy to have them charged with malicious harassment.

Now they stood in the doorway of their shabby little place. A lone, rickety chair sat before the iffy-looking brick fireplace. There was nothing else in the place yet; their furniture would be delivered soon.

“Mom’s going to faint,” Josh said, sighing.

“Paint,” Maggie said. She beamed at him. “A little elbow grease. There’s nothing here that can’t be improved upon.”

Josh smiled down at her, kissed her lips and then kissed Johnny’s tiny forehead. “They got one thing right,” he said. “He really is a miracle baby.”

“Yes,” Maggie agreed. “And we’ll be just fine.”

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Please visit Paula’s blog and follow her! https://pshablo.blogspot.com/

Write the Story: February 2019 Collection


Leeah Taylor: These Four Walls

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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These Four Walls

By Leeah Taylor

I stare at these walls

So colorless and blank

Trapped in this room

Bound to this place

These four walls

Tall as they are deep

Guard all my dark secrets

Only I trust to keep

With nothing but time

All I do now is wait

Only whispers I hear

Succinct and sweet

Then darkness will come

And all will be gone

Only in these four walls

Do I find comfort to weep

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Please visit Leeah’s FB page and give her a like…. https://www.facebook.com/AuthorLTaylor/

Write the Story: February 2019 Collection


Calliope NJO: My inheritance

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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My Inheritance

By Calliope NJO

I never heard of Briarsville. I received a map, key, and a renovation fund in the mail from a lawyer’s office from said place. In short, I got it because the deceased left it to me. The old lady liked me. I had no recollection of ever meeting someone other than in passing. I checked out the lawyer, and he had been practicing law for at least twelve years. So he seemed legit enough for me to believe him.

In between projects, with nothing else to do, I needed to have a look at my new place. Good thing I had my 4×4. The rocky, unpaved road did make things a little bumpy, however. The trees had to be at least ten stories high with massive trunks. My GPS gave me an error message and the map applications sent me someplace else. I wouldn’t have been able to find it if nobody gave me a map.

The old line of being nestled in the woods fit the description of the property. A two-story wooden house with a big stone chimney. The wooden front door still remained in its place. All the shattered windows needed to be replaced.

The front door opened. I called out but nobody answered, so how the H-E-Double hockey sticks did it open. All by itself. I went back to my 4×4 and scrounged for something. It gave me an activity while I figured out if I wanted to go in.

I couldn’t hesitate any longer so I entered. I thought I heard a woman tell me it’s about time you came in. I looked and like before, nobody. My mind drifted off into the unknown. I had to use logic and reasoning or risk losing my mind. If I didn’t already.

Careful steps needed to be taken or risk falling through the Swiss-cheese floor. I stopped in a green room. The green wall contrasted with the red brick fireplace, and chances were some varmints set up house in the unused chimney.

The longer I stood there, the more the chair in the front rocked. An old lady appeared, looked at me, and disappeared. Maybe I should’ve left too but I couldn’t. My feet stayed attached.

Bizarre or mad, either word would best fit me at that moment. Some food would help to fuel my brain and stop the weird experiences.

I got in my truck and started down the long road again. Trees and boulders watched me as I drove past. I got to town and it looked nice. Kids running up and down, some on their bikes. Adults walked back and forth.

The diner on the corner sounded like the spot to refuel. I wandered in and sat down at the bar. Burger and coffee would hit the spot.

A skinny man sat next to me. The unmarked white baseball cap caught my attention. I smiled and nodded.

“Hey there,” he said. “The name’s Oliver. Say, uh…I never saw you around these parts. New?”

“Yeah. Sort of.” I wasn’t sure who this guy was so I tried to keep things short.

“We don’t get much new ones. Where you at?”

“A cabin in the woods.” Not that far from the truth.

“Oh. I know that one. That’s the Kingston cabin. William Kingston was his name. Built it for his family so his younguns had space to grow up. Yeah. Nobody knows what happened, not really, but they say he got shot while out on a huntin’ trip. Yeah. ‘Cause nobody delivered the body, his wife kept on waitin’ for him. Some even say she still waitin’.” He turned around. “I gotta get. Good luck and may the Lord be with you.”

Not quite sure what to think about that bit of info, I mulled it over while I ate. I never believed in the afterlife. Once you’re dead, you’re dead. After what I experienced though, it made me wonder if I should change my views.

After I finished, I went back to the cabin. Maybe I asked for it, but I couldn’t help but remember the story that man told me. I couldn’t get past the idea that someone waited for somebody else all this time. Unbelievable.

I walked in. “Hello? Mrs. Kingston?” What was I saying?

Maybe the floorboards were loose. That wouldn’t surprise me. What surprised me was a young woman appeared in front of me.

“Oh. There you are. You had me worried. I longed for your return.” She held me. “You seem surprised.”

“Uh…” That’s the understatement of the century.

“Come now, William.” She grabbed both my hands and kissed them.

I felt it. I felt her kiss me. Did I need to tell her the name’s Shawn? “Uh…” About the most intelligent thing I could utter.

She took me to a room down the hall. I expected dilapidated furniture and holes in the wall. Instead, a perfect four-poster bed sat in the middle of the room. A clean and shiny window let the light in. OK, somebody had to have put something in my food because none of this could have been real.

She lay me down and stroked me. I had to admit I fell asleep. When I woke up though, I lay on the floor instead, and the once unbroken window didn’t exist. The night sky shone through the framed hole.

I ran out of that house as fast as I could and hightailed it out of town. I got the house for free, yeah, and with a little bit of work, I could’ve made it livable. Not as long as those strange things were in there, I couldn’t do it, renovation fund or no renovation fund.

I made it back to the city. The nice congested, polluted, no trees existed in the backyard if there was a backyard city. I put the key away for safekeeping. Maybe in the future but that would have to be under extreme circumstances.

I took the car keys out of my pocket and put them on the nightstand. Along with it, a gold ring came up. Inside it read: To my only love. Two hearts. One soul.

The End

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Please visit Calliope’s blog and follow her. https://bit.ly/2RJwNrS

Write the Story: February 2019 Collection


Lynn Miclea: Memories of Murder

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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Memories of Murder

by Lynn Miclea

Keegan stood there, staring at the chair. He had loved using that chair and he cherished what it represented. The memories flooded back. He remembered tying his victims to that chair. The red-brown bloodstains on the floorboards were still visible.

The memories made him smile. He could see the terror in the eyes of his victims when he brought out the knife. He could still hear the screams. He hadn’t killed again in all these years since then. But that chair brought back the cherished memories, and he chuckled.

Keegan remembered how the police were closing in on him and how he quickly left. He had been careless, and they had gotten too close — they had almost caught him. He had barely managed to stay one step ahead of the cops, but it was not easy. They were good.

He fondly ran his hand along the back of the chair as warmth filled him. He was too old now to kill again — he was no longer interested in that. But the memories were wonderful.

They did not bring back the family members he had lost, but they had brought him some relief, even if it was only temporary.

He silently said goodbye to the chair and the memories. It was dangerous to even be here.

Tomorrow he would retire from the police force. This case would remain unsolved, and his record would be spotless. He thought about retiring on Maui, with endless sun and sand — a fitting end to a brilliant career.

A broad smile erupted on his face. He had done it. He was free.

As he turned to leave, he heard tires screeching out in the street in front. A neighbor in a hurry? Then he heard more tires. What was going on?

A loud voice thundered through a bullhorn. “Police! You are surrounded. Come out with your hands up!”

Images of Maui beaches dissolved into images of a jail cell. Where did he mess up? What had he done wrong? How did they know?

He glanced out the front window. Four cop cars were out in front. His own squad — he knew them all. A huge sigh escaped him. He knew they were already at the back as well. All exits were covered.

He would not go to jail. There was only one way out now.

He opened the front door and saw the shocked looks on the faces of the officers who he had worked next to all these years.

He raised his handgun, aimed it at the cop who he knew was the best sharpshooter … and felt his body jerk backward as rounds of ammunition hit him.

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Copyright © 2019 Lynn Miclea. All Rights Reserved.

Please also visit Lynn’s blog, like the story there, and follow her at – https://wp.me/p4htbd-o9

Write the Story: February 2019 Collection

Sean Bracken: Danny Finn’s Dream

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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Danny Finn’s Dream

by Sean Bracken

Danny Finn reached over in the bed for his wife Ann. Still only half awake, he realised that her side of the bed was empty. He guessed that she had gone down for a glass of water and lay back on his pillow. It was then that the awful truth came back to him. Ann was gone. He was on his own except for the children, Danny Junior, Heather, and little Harry. The never-ending grief and horror washed all over him again and he cried out in his despair, “Why? Why, Ann, Why?” Tears now streaming down his face, he pulled himself up from the bed and made his way downstairs and into the bar.

He reached up to a shelf and pulled down a bottle of “Black Bush” and stumbled back upstairs to what had been Ann’s old study. The room, once vibrant with old furniture lovingly restored by Ann was now sparse and cold. Danny had donated much of it to charity and given the rest away to friends and family. And yet the room still held her essence, her soul, the smell of her. Her perfume lived in the walls. Here, she lived in Danny’s mind. Here he talked with her, night after night.

Her ‘writing’ chair stood solitary guard before the empty hearth, now devoid of warming flames, and her grandmother’s old coffee table lay upside down in the corner, kicked over in a drunken rage the night before. Danny righted the table and set it down beside the chair. He picked up a glass and an ashtray from the floor and placed them on the table along with his whiskey and cigarettes.

He poured a generous measure into the unwashed glass. A Pall Mall in one hand and drink in the other, his tears subsided as he switched on the stereo. It was three o’clock in the morning. God, would he ever know peace again?

The soothing sound of Vivaldi sang to him as the whiskey started to take effect. Danny knew that without his drink and smokes, nothing could prevent him from joining Ann in oblivion. Lord Jesus, how he missed her. Images of her dead body on the bed, one leg on the floor, the empty Prozac bottle beside her, paramedics working frantically to revive her, the God-awful funeral with the children clutching onto him, the condolences from people that were sincere, did nothing to ease the pain conspiring to destroy his soul.

He loved the kids with all his heart, but for the past year he had only been pretending to be alive. He woke them up in the mornings, fed them their meals, helped with homework, and put them to bed at night. It took all he had just to wash and shave in the morning. Then on autopilot behind the bar for the day, until bedtime for the children and time for him to relax with his whiskey and wallow in self-pity.

He barely ate anything at all and lived on coffee, sixty smokes a day and a bottle of Irish every night. Once a healthy twelve stone and full of life, he was now just a fraction over six stone and looked like a survivor from a Nazi concentration camp. His friends, family and the regulars in the pub had all tried to help him, but he preferred the isolation. All he wanted was his bottle and the numbness it brought.

Violins reached towards the climax of The Four Seasons when Danny’s doorbell chimed, rousing him from his memories. He noted that it was a little after three-thirty and wondered who on Earth could be calling at this hour. Probably another poor soul in need of a late night drink. He wanted to ignore the caller but decided to go down to answer the door.

A total stranger stood on the porch, doing his best to shelter from the falling snow. “Mr. Finn? Can I come in, please?” asked the man as he shook snowdrops from his dark hair.

Danny looked the man up and down. He seemed to be quite calm and, other than his rather pale skin, appeared to be unremarkable. “Who are you? What do you want?” Danny asked.

“I’m so sorry,” replied the stranger. “I realise how late it is but I need to talk with you urgently. It’s about Ann and it can’t wait.”

“Come in then, if you must,” mumbled Danny, feeling unsteady from the alcohol. He led the man up to the living room, and after they were both seated across from each other, he asked what was so urgent that it couldn’t wait ’til morning.

“Ann sent me to talk with you, to help you, to guide you,” replied the stranger.

An incredulous Danny was incensed and shouted at the man to get out of the house. “Leave me alone, you bastard! That’s impossible. My wife’s been dead for a year! Get out, get out, get out,” roared Danny, as he struggled to his feet.

“She said you might react like this,” said the stranger quietly. “She told me to show you this. She said it would help to convince you,” he said, holding out a necklace that Danny recognised. He had given it to Ann on the birth of Danny Junior, and it had been buried in her coffin with her. Danny sank back into his chair and, crestfallen, he looked up at the stranger. “How can this be?” he asked.

The stranger replied that Danny would soon understand and started to talk to him about his life. How hard he had worked. How devoted a father and husband he had been. He also explained that Ann was so sorry for taking her life and for the pain it had caused. As the stranger continued with his soothing words, Danny began to calm down, and he realised how selfish he had been for the past year. He felt deep shame for the way he had behaved, for withdrawing himself from his friends and family, and for treating his children as if they were a burden.

He asked the stranger to tell Ann that he would always miss her, and that he was ready to be a decent father to the children and to make a fresh start.

The strange, pale man smiled gently and put his arms tenderly around the grieving husband. “That’s all I wanted to hear, Danny. At last Ann can rest in peace, but never forget that I will be keeping a very close eye on you from now on.”

Danny woke up back in the study, shaken from his dream. It had been so vivid, so real and so intense. It was then that he noticed Ann’s necklace on the coffee table right beside the empty whiskey glass.

The End

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Please visit Sean’s website and check out his other great stories and follow him. https://sean-bracken.site123.me/

Write the Story: February 2019 Collection