Fiction Friday: The Girl With the Gift

[My apologies for the lack of Fiction Friday lately. But I'm back! A special thanks to my friend Melody for telling me about her crazy dream that served as the initial inspiration for this piece. Enjoy!]

Keeping secrets was all I knew. As natural as breathing. Such was the price to pay when born extraordinary in an ordinary world. Before my grandmother passed away, she made me promise to guard my secret, no matter the cost. But even as I promise passed from my lips, a certainty swelled within me. I knew that one day, I would break it.

The world was ending. It was obvious. But apparently, only to me. Trying to show my friends what I saw was met with confused looks and nervous snickers, followed by a mass exodus from my life. Consequence number one of people finding out the truth according to granny. 

Be prepared to live a life of solitude and harsh judgement.

Despite what I saw, the world continued to thrum along all around me. Clueless commuters and tourists meandered through the park on, what they believed to be, a beautiful day. A red-faced man knocked into me without apology, too caught up with yelling into his cell phone. I wondered if he would still be such an ass if he knew that this was the beginning of the end. Would whatever had him steaming mad be worth it?

Gazing up at the sky, my breath hitched at the sight of how much the tear had grown. It was like a frustrated artist took a giant knife and jammed it into the canvas of our world, starting deep in the heavens and dragging it toward earth. The slit between our world and whatever lay beyond glowed in the purest white.

My lungs filled with electrified air. My chest heaved. But I stopped myself short of screaming: Look! Run! Save yourselves!

I wasn’t crazy. I wasn’t some tin foil hat wearing doomsday conspiracy theorist. I was just a girl with a gift. A girl whose main worry a week ago was whether or not Billy Ortiz was going to ask me to prom. And now, it was hard to believe that I’d ever cared about something as inconsequential as a dance. There would be no prom. Hell, soon enough, there might not be a Billy.

Or a me.  

I felt a tingling at the nape of my neck and I knew the time was near. It always started this way. Soft, almost comforting.

The brilliant slash had reached earth and disappeared along the horizon. I watched in horror as a blackish gray dot mutated into a long, skinny tendril. It unfurled from within the glow and entered into our world. Smaller tendrils sprung from its tip. As the terrifying appendage reached toward the ground, I heard the first screams.

The tingling in me grew and morphed into a pounding pulse that wracked my entire body. My abilities weren’t limited to just seeing what others couldn’t. I was gifted with a wide array of gifts. Each one important, according to granny, in fulfilling my ultimate purpose: to save the world.

Fiction Friday: [Salvaging for Hope]

Despite living with a rowdy crew and the staleness of its recycled air, it was docking that Shapiro hated the most. The Vulture was an old girl, decommissioned before he was born. The odds of her dock being compatible with another ship was slim to none. The seesawing to make it work always left a queasy pit in his stomach. He learned the hard way not to look out the window. The lurching sent the stars dancing in non-rhythmic streaks and sent his head swirling. Shapiro wasn’t built to be a salvager. But life loved to throw curveballs.

As a civil engineer on Pis Aller Colony II, he spent his entire career at a desk. He worked hard to create a world that was not only functional, but beautiful. But, as with anything involving human nature, there were those who disagreed. A faction of underground rebels made it clear they weren’t happy with the government’s vision for one of the last remaining colonies. From stolen equipment to strategically placed bombs, setting work back for months, their presence had everyone on edge.

Shapiro stayed out of his colleague’s conspiracy theory discussions, preferring to keep his head down and complete the work of making a better world for his wife and daughter. But, from the day Katerine and Mela were kidnapped, he regretted his lack of fraternization. Maybe if he had joined in, he would have realized his job put his family in danger. He would have realized he needed to take steps to ensure their safety. But he hadn’t. He failed them.

Worse, the faction was rumored to have fled the colony soon after. Unconfirmed sightings of them off-planet was how Shapiro found his way onto the rusty, clunker known as The Vulture. If his family was out there, he would find them.

A loud, metallic clang filled the ship and vibrated under his feet. They had docked. Already suited up, Shapiro waited anxiously for the door to open. While the rest of the crew sought out items to gain them favor and bonuses, he set off for clues that could lead him to his family.

Debris peppered the floor and somewhere in the distance, water dripped. He swept his light over the rust-dripped walls and rivets until his beam caught something up ahead. Shapiro stopped in his tracks, confused. As the newbie, he was always sent the furthest from living quarters because quality personal effects fetched the highest trade value. But, up ahead, according to the plaque on the door, was the holy grail of salvagers…Captain’s Quarters. The civil engineer in him argued the implausibility of what he was seeing. The ridiculousness of a ship’s Captain hunkering down this deep in the belly of his ship. But he pushed those thoughts aside because he had work to do.

The door eased open with an ear piercing squawk. The room smelled of mold and metal, adding to the war already raging in Shapiro’s stomach. He zigzagged the light from wall to wall and along the floor. The room was waterlogged and everything in it was soaked in shades of black, gray, and brown. Then the light’s beam caught a flash of pink in the far corner. It was only a tiny peek, but in the den of drab it shined like a beacon.

Shapiro carefully sloshed his way across the room, kicking aside long-forgotten debris. Memories that had once meant something to someone, now disintegrating and floating in rust water. The closer he got, the more he worried that his OxyBreather was faulty. But common sense pointed him toward the truth.

The temperature on Pis Aller Colony II was a steady sixty-eight. Always. His daughter never left home without her favorite pink jacket. The one that was the same shade of pink peeking out from under the layers of dirt and water stains.

The combination of hope and fear shortened his breath. The addition of the heat from his tears threatened to fog his view as he reached his gloved hand toward the corner. The first tug sent something into the water heavy enough to splash the glass of his helmet, but Shapiro didn’t care. He tugged again at the fabric that could potentially spin his world into overdrive. This time it slid out with ease from its watery grave.

The zipper glinted under his light. The sleeves hung slack and heavy, dripping. His gasping cries echoed hollow in the helmet as he clutched the jacket to his chest.  

This find wouldn’t get him in his bosses favor or garner him a bonus, but to him, Shapiro had just salvaged the most valuable thing on the ship. 

Fiction Friday: [In the Shadow of the End]

Rachel watched her daughter run around the yard in awkward, drunken circles. The five-year-old’s arms and legs, already too long for her body, flailed out of control and added to her fun. Emma tossed her head back and the giggles flowed.

Rachel’s heart caught a tumultuous wave.

There was nothing more soothing, more perfect than the sound of her child in the throes of joy. But knowing what her life was to become cast a dark shadow. A shadow that dug deep into her as a mother, cracking her ribs apart and attacking the last vestiges of what had been their normal life.

It was the sudden silence that pulled her from her thoughts. The air grew cold in it. Jolting to attention, Rachel’s eyes fell into Emma’s, whose gangly arms were still raised a bit having stopped mid twirl. By the time she reached her mother, her face had morphed from curious to crumbled. Glassy eyes and quivering lip. It was a look that Rachel had dreaded.

Emma reached up and gently caressed her face and it was then that Rachel realized she was crying. Tears released without permission. Tears she had sworn never to shed in front of her daughter.  

Emma’s eyes held the question she didn’t know to ask. Rachel’s broken heart hung heavy with the answer she didn’t know how to give.

By the time she heard her husband drive up, Rachel had soothed her daughter. By the time her soon-to-be ex’s keys were in the door, Emma was already back to twirling with reckless abandon. 

Fiction Friday: [Five Little Words]

It was there when I arrived home early from work. A letter. No envelope. Just a single, tri-folded sheet tucked into our door jamb. Five words. Typed.

You’re dating a serial killer.

A deep tingling of unease crawled along my skin, making its way over a rocky landscape formed by tensed muscles. Despite the empty hallway, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was being watched. The keys jangled loudly in my quivering hand as I aimed for the keyhole.

Once inside, I fell against the door, clutching the letter to my chest and crumpling it in my clammy hand. It took a while, but I forced myself to slow my breathing. To ease the deafening thump in my chest.

Memories with Thomas flooded my mind. Laughing on our first date as we walked along the Hudson River. Realizing my true feelings for him as we danced during our first New Year’s Eve together. How at the stroke of midnight, he told me he loved me before I could say a word. And how just the other day, I cried tears of joy when I found a ring-sized velvet box in his underwear drawer.

Thomas was the kindest person I’d ever met. Flaws and all, he loved me more than I knew anyone ever could. I saw it every time he looked at me. There was no room in his heart for even the tiniest hint of malice. And that was the truest truth I knew.

He would be home soon. A decision had to be made. And it wasn’t a difficult one. I tore the letter again and again until it rained down into the trash like confetti.

The letter was gone, but I knew it wouldn’t be the end of it. There would be more. Unless, of course, I found the person attempting to destroy our relationship.

It shouldn’t be too hard. Leaving it in the door was a sloppy move. A wiser tattletale would have ensured that Thomas got the letter directly. But, lucky for me they didn’t. 

Fiction Friday: Galloway House Pt. 4

[Welcome to Part 4 of Galloway House. If you have missed any of the previous installments you can find them here: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3. And as always...thanks for reading!]


As Joseph Strunk sat down for a meal with his family, he imagined it was considerably more subdued than other dinner tables around Townsley. The arrival of the stranger would no doubt dominate every conversation. Theories would be discussed. Assumptions would be made. And thanks to the lack of facts and evidence, it was safe to assume that fear would grow and spread before night’s end.

Joseph chewed thoughtfully on leftover chicken and remembered the looks of wonder and awe on the other villager’s faces as the storm had rolled in. The hissing sounds of their whispered concerns whipping by on the growing winds. And then, how they had all fallen silent—momentarily stunned he supposed—as their widened eyes drew like magnets to the unfamiliar car as it rolled into town. He had watched as the shock and confusion morphed its way into curiosity.

“Who is that?” Ben Waller had said.

And although he was the only one within earshot of the question, Joseph hadn’t dared to assume it was directed toward him. Ben was Townsley’s only lawyer. In a town where everything had its place, there was certainly no slot that would involve a conversation between a lawyer and a garbage man. Joseph wandered off before the conversation continued, but he was sure it was filled with misinformation and speculation.

What he really knew was that he had just witnessed the seeds of fear being planted. A fear that would not bloom in his household. Neither Joseph nor his wife, Clara, were afraid and their children were much too young to care about the village’s goings on.

No matter how historic.

Watching his children’s chubby cheeks bob and squish as they ate their dinner, he considered their future. The Strunk family had lived in Townsley for almost as long as the village existed, but have never at any point been affluent members of the community. At least not under the definition of what seemed to matter these days.  Theirs was a wealth whose currency was knowledge. Secrets passed down from generation to generation. Ones that involved the truth behind why Galloway house stood abandoned and shrouded in mystery for so long. And more importantly, what it meant now that an heir to the Galloway legacy had returned. 

[Read Part 5 here]

Fiction Friday: [Underqualified]

[This week's Fiction Friday was born from this writing prompt from Writer's Digest. Enjoy!]

Not afraid of ghosts.

It was an oddly specific detail in an otherwise generic job listing. One that most people would assume was a joke. But for me, the ridiculous requirement gave me hope that I might finally get a job. After almost two months of perusing want ads that reminded me of how underqualified I was for pretty much everything, I wasn’t ashamed to admit that I was borderline desperate for work.

So, I was ecstatic to be sitting on a hard black case full of equipment I’ve never heard of. Why I was grateful that an urgent call came in during the middle of my interview with Herb Tucker, proprietor of Otherworldly Security. I tried my best to hold on while he wove the company van through traffic. Riding shotgun was a bean pole of a man ironically named Truck. Tall and thin and rocking a camo t-shirt, Twig seemed more appropriate.

Sorry to cut this short, Herb had said after hanging up the phone and then, after a moment of careful consideration, Well…I guess we’re about to see what you’re made of.

Admittedly, I assumed the job would consist of acting more than anything else. We’d lug out the strange equipment under my butt, wave them around and say things that sounded ghost huntery. Then we would feed them some story about what we did to get rid of the spirit problem and leave as heroes. But as we pulled up to the ranch-style house and I saw the pajama clad family of four holding each other on the lawn, my cynicism lost some traction. Watching the color return to Herb’s thick, stubby fingers as he loosened his grip around the steering wheel helped it dissipate altogether.

Nausea swelled in my stomach from the moment we stepped into the house and the feeling was way too strong to just be my imagination. Herb sent Truck one way while we headed the other, shutting off lights and drawing curtains along the way.

“Take this,” he said handing me a tiny television on a stick. “It’s a thermal imager. I’ll try to talk to the spirit while you scan the area. Tell me if you see anything unusual. Got it?”

I swallowed down the lump in my throat and croaked out a feeble, “Yes”. For a moment I forgot my fear and marveled at the colors molding themselves around the furniture and tchotchkes in the living room through the monitor.

“If there is a spirit in this house, please know that we mean you no harm. We just need answers for the family who lives here.” Herb’s voice was strong and calm. The complete opposite of how I felt. As he continued in his attempt to communicate, I did as I was told and scanned the room.

The breath hitched in my throat and I audibly gasped drawing Herb’s attention.

“What did you see?”

“I…I…” I didn’t know what to say. Through the monitor I had clearly seen the outline of a man, but now looking with my naked eye, there was nothing. “A man...a blue blob in the shape of a man…”

Herb moved closer to where I had pointed.

“Thank you for joining us,” he said to…well, nothing. “With this equipment, we can help you communicate. We know it’s hard for you, but if you try we can share your message.”

I looked down at the thermal imager and froze. Through the monitor a pair of feet stood directly in front of me. A chill swooped through my body and my teeth clacked together. Curiosity, or stupidity, took over and I slowly lifted the imager. Blue legs, followed by hands. Arms. Shoulders. My hand shook uncontrollably by the time I reached the face yet the set of the eyes, the slope of the nose—all the details—were so clear.

I wanted to call out for Herb, but I choked on his name as it hung in my throat. Then, remembering how the blob disappeared last time, I lowered the imager. History did not repeat itself and I stood face to face with the sad-eyed man. A man who couldn’t possibly be real because through his diaphanous face I could see the family portrait that hung above the couch.

I screamed octaves higher than I knew were possible and dropped the thermal imager. I bolted toward the front door and knocked into a confused Truck. Flinging the door open, I startled the family still waiting so hopefully on the groomed lawn. I had no desire to stop and explain. No desire to be their hero. All I wanted was to get as far away as possible.

Well I guess we know what I’m made of, I thought as my feet pounded against the pavement, propelling me closer to my next job search.

Fiction Friday: [The Photo]

Working late was bad enough without feeling guilty every time he looked at the photo on his desk. In it, Holly’s eyes sparkled, radiating warmth and, as always, her smile spread tightly across her face as she always made a point to keep her lips pressed together. Even now, despite the events of the morning, he was drawn in by her face.

Mark couldn’t remember what the fight was about, but he was sure it was over something stupid. And if he was being totally honest, he also knew it had been his fault. It wasn’t the first time he allowed stress from work to creep into his home life.

His eyes wandered once again over to his wife’s face after tapping away at his keyboard for almost an hour. His fingers froze and it felt as though his heart had, too.  His eyes burned and watered as he stared, unblinking at the photo. The same photo that had adorned his desk for almost ten years. Well, not the same.

Not anymore.

The only spark left in Holly’s eyes was one that ignited fear. Her tightly pressed lips now flung apart in a frozen scream of terror. Mark squeezed his eyes shut and convinced himself that he was just tired. Too many hours staring at a computer screen.

When he opened them, not only was Holly still clutched in the grip of fear, but Mark had to lean in closer because he noticed something else that hadn’t been in the photo before. A shadowy figure lurked behind her. His mind was sluggish with confusion and he reached forward, rubbing the glass with his thumb to make sure it wasn’t just a smudge.

His stomach knotted when the image remained and he scrambled for his phone, dialing his wife with quaking fingers.


Relief washed through Mark when he heard her voice.

“Hey, it’s me. I just…I just wanted to make sure you were alright.”

“Yeah, of course. Why wouldn’t I be?” Holly said with a slight edge in her voice. The remnant of their unresolved fight.

“No reason. I was just…”

Mark’s words trailed off as he took another look at the photo. He was shocked to find that the shadowy mass had grown larger. As if it had drawn closer to Holly. As if it was right behind her.

“Mark? Are you still there?”

Before he could respond, the phone—and every molecule in his body—flooded with the sound of her scream. Mark watched in horror as the black outline of a hand slid over Holly’s mouth in the photo and his heart raced as his wife’s scream grew muffled in his ear.

“Holly, I’m coming,” he yelled over and over as he bolted from his desk.

Consumed with getting home and saving her, Mark never heard Holly’s phone hit the floor or the sounds of her struggling end. 

Fiction Friday: [Galloway House pt. 2]

[Today's Fiction Friday is a continuation of the story I posted last week. If you haven't read part one, you can find it HERE. As always....thanks for reading!]

Arriving just ahead of the ominous clouds and darkening skies, a car far fancier than ever seen in Townsley before rolled onto the village’s streets. With its emerald body sparkling under the last of the sun’s rays, it drew the attention of everyone it passed. Tinted windows only added to the mystery of who was behind the wheel.

The car eased slowly down Main Street and by the time the first drops of rain pelted the ground and turned dust to paste, everyone knew of the mysterious visitor. They watched, mesmerized and stunned, as the car took a sharp right turn and made its ascent up the hill toward Galloway House. The closer the car drew the more foreboding the enigmatic home appeared as the storm clouds settled over its slate roof and stripped away the details of its patterned bricks.

The car pulled to a stop and the villagers held their collective breath. The brake lights flicked off and they waited for the brave soul—or the fool—to reveal themselves. The driver’s side door eased open and something long and narrow and black advanced from the vehicle. Imaginations, along with the angle of the hill and limited sight from cloud cover, aided in the illusion that it was surely something sinister. Several people jumped when the object snapped open and then laughed nervously upon realizing it was just an umbrella. A black-panted leg was spotted briefly before lightning cracked blindingly across the sky.

So blinding that when everyone opened their eyes white spots floated lazily in their line of sight. After blinking them away, disappointment rippled through the villagers as they looked up the hill. The stranger was gone, no doubt already inside the house. With barely a glimpse, they had no idea if the person had been male or female, short or tall, but they would be the main topic at every dinner table that evening nonetheless. Theories and speculation would be tossed around. Embellishments would be added. By morning, the mysteries surrounding Galloway House would have many new chapters.