Most of us are familiar with Benjamin Franklin's line from his missive to Jean-Baptiste Leroy: "'In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes."
The fear of each - to differing degrees - is universal.   I arrived at half a dozen spins on this week's prompt.  How creative can you be?

The Judge

This week's judge and returning champion is author Lisa McCourt-Hollar, Mistress of Jezri's Nightmares and hostess of the 55 Word Challenge.  Visit her website at

The Prompt

I don't want to die

4/29/2012 11:00:31 pm

Host - Ineligible Entry


I don't want to die here, not in this place.
I don't remember how I got here. I had a wife and two wonderful children. Mary was the most beautiful woman I'd ever known. Maybe I fell too hard to fast, I don’t know. I guess I was young and naïve. I believed that I could do anything, be anything. She made me feel like the king of the world.
When the kids came along, I thought life couldn't get any better. I received a promotion and a fat salary increase. Life was so good and then everything fell apart.
I was scalded twice this week even though I was just doing my job the way they told me to do it. Last week, I came close to having my hand chopped off. My back is killing me but the others glare at me or roll their eyes when I complain. I feel like everyone is laughing at me. At least they treat Tina kindly, but I'm pretty sure it's just because she's young and pretty.
It's so hot, I can't breathe. I don't know how much more I can take. I have to get out of here, but I don't know how.
"Hey Larry, some kid just puked in the men's bathroom; grab a mop! Oh and the grease traps need cleaning again, make sure you're careful this time. Welcome to McDonalds, May I take your order, please?"
So much for my degrees in finance and real estate, I wonder if Wal-Mart is hiring.

255 words

4/30/2012 03:02:27 am

I don't want to die, but if I don’t find a solution to this problem, I’ll be dead forever.
It all started like this, the man of my dreams asked me to marry him. I’d been in love with him since third grade but his heart had always belonged to Karen Piccolo, my best friend. He’d married her and three years later, she’d been killed tragically in a car accident. I should have been sad, but all I could think was this was my chance. I plied him with food and sympathy and a willing ear to listen to his troubles. A year later we were married and that is when the trouble began, I went to sleep and dreamt of her.
Karen crooked her finger and I followed. Why I don’t know. Maybe I just missed my friend?
I felt myself rise up from my body, as I flew first over hill and vales. Then high into the stratosphere, as I became a beam of light. Karen motioned at me to follow and smiling at me. Was it a smile of sheer malice?
I became frightened that this wasn’t just a dream. I felt detached from my body almost like I was dead. Was I dead? If I was dead then I couldn’t be with Howard and it was obvious to me, Karen didn’t want me with Howard. She would hate that Howard had found happiness with me.
Karen must have lured me to separate me from my body. I wanted to go back to my body but which way was back? How far had we come? All I saw around me was endless black space and maybe a few stars. I wished hard to be in my own body.
Karen grabbed my hand. I tried to pull away but her spirit grip was strong. All around me was swirling light. I closed my eyes and when I opened them I found myself beside Howard looking at myself and him. I hugged Howard, begging him to help me get back in my body. Karen shook her head and tapped me lightly, pushing me away from Howard, as if I was harming him.
I looked over at myself and saw EMT’s working on me. As they did chest compressions, I felt a tug and then a distinct pull; I was sucked into a vortex of light and colour. I felt pain in my chest and air entering my nose. Despite the pain I was happy and alive. I glanced around wondering if I had imagined this all in my near death experience. It was then I saw Karen kissing Howard on the lips and saying ...
“Goodbye, be happy with Moira. Someday I’ll see you again.” pointing to me she said “Treat him well Moira or I’ll be back” and then was gone in a flash of light.
As for me I recovered from my heart attack and treated Howard like a King, after all I didn’t want Karen coming back.
500 words

4/30/2012 03:21:48 am

"I... don't."

::Want to die alone, then?::

The world came to a complete stop as the pastor's eyes began to widen and Chris' composure cracked before inevitably, inexorably shattering. I had a moment to debate my not-so-inner demons. And by "debate," I mean "tell off."

"You don't like Chris, you've never liked Chris, and, to be perfectly honest, I think you're enjoying the incipient train wreck."

::Guilty, guilty, and oh goodness yes, guilty.::

"You ass. You're coming to Vegas with me and owe me at the card tables for this."

::Your wish is my command, Master.::

"And who says I'll die alone? I seem to be stuck with you, you little fuck."


4/30/2012 03:28:09 am

I don’t want to die. I mean, really – who does? So what I’ve done, is I’ve found a way round it. Something that means that I don’t need to die. Ever. It’s immortality, I suppose. Isn’t that everyone’s true desire? If you could capture the best ever time in your life, the time when your skin is firm and your arse is still tight and sitting there at the right degree of longitude? Or is it latitude? Anyway, you know what I mean. The time when your chin is blemish-free. Your boobs sit nice in a normal under-wired, and don’t fall too far when you take it off. When your hair is still shiny and thick and not too much of it gets left on the brush. When you can still go into the nicer of the High Street stores and buy whatever you like without worrying that you look too fat. Also, it’s the time when your boyfriend is not yet your husband, where he still wears clean underwear and surprises you with flowers on a Friday night. When he says you look hot and throws you on the bed. When you don’t get up for the whole of Saturday and you order pizza and eat it naked off each other’s thighs. It’s the time when you’ve just been promoted at work and everyone still things you’re ballsy and likes it that you still go and have a few beers with them after work and there’s no shop talk and you can go to nightclubs and drink bombs and no one cares when you come to work a bit rough, because they all do, and you’re all young, and it’s fun. It’s the time when you’ve still got all your family around, and you don’t live with them, but they haven’t started annoying you yet and no one has revealed the devastating family secret. It’s the time when you can eat your body weight in cheese and it doesn’t hit your hips. It’s the time when you still play sports, because you enjoy it, not because you need to get rid of middle-age spread. It’s the time of your life. So I’ve fixed it: this can be the way that things are forever. I spoke to a man. Yeah, it came at a price. He took my soul, but he left everything else that I wanted, and I figured, well, what do I need a soul for anyway?

409 words

4/30/2012 05:26:26 am

I don’t want to die. My life hasn’t exactly been a good one. I’ve had way more than my share of days where you curse the gods until you’re hoarse. Life’s shoved me in the mud, kicked me while I was down and then spat in my face. But I always got up again.

There are good things in this world. I’ve seen them, touched them, tasted them. I feel like if I could have one good thing that was really mine, that’d make it all worthwhile. Bearable anyway. Every time I get closer to really hanging on to something real. It’d be too cruel for life to end before I finally make it.

I don’t know why the bard convinced her to spare me. I want to feel grateful, but instead I just feel guilty for trying to take her away from him. She was one of those good things I almost had. I touched her, held her, and I swear I felt love. Now she looks at me like some horribly diseased thing to be put out of its misery.

The bard’s herbal concoction is easily the foulest mixture I’ve ever tasted—and I’ve eaten my share of alley trash. But it sustains me, and he says if I give in to the blood hunger there’ll be no way to change me back. Also, I know she’d kill me if I drank blood and she found out.

I don’t want to die.

244 words

4/30/2012 05:57:44 am

I don’t want to die. The pact I make ensures that does not happen. I will live forever and be there to witness the Trinity return to this earth to save the wretched souls from their grief and sins… again. Once they begin to ascend into the powerful arms, I will make my move.

The liquid is thick and dark. It smells of burning feces. I strain it into the goblet and listen to the click-click of the clock count off the seconds before I can start the ritual. I prepare the room, then my body—all is pristine.

The time is here. I begin my meditation. The power surrounds me in a vortex. I bring the foul liquid to my lips and feel the power elate around me; they think me a fool. In a swift moment, I throw the liquid around me into the swirling air. I hear their shrieks of agony. My body is plummeted with their force as they try to escape the poison swirling around me. The liquid is a barrier they could not escape, giving them no other choice but to crash into me, giving me their immortality without me becoming a spirit like them.

My body aches with the thousands of attacks. The room is silent. A brown slick circle lies on the floor. I feel them under my skin and hear their whispers in my head; that will soon dissipate as I take what was once theirs as my own. Now I wait, I do not know for how long for the Creator’s return, when I will become the all powerful.


269 Words

Bob Mahone
4/30/2012 07:57:59 am

Good Deed?

“I don't want to die”, faint but audible, were the man’s last words.

Gerald knew this because he was kneeling over him at the time.

However intriguing the man’s utterance, the conundrum arose from the hiss of the final breath leaving his body. It was frighteningly louder than the words. Without sentiment, its exit was purposeful, ringing out in Gerald’s mind like a clarion call. Not to some kamikaze mission, as if to take on death itself, but to something more realistic. It was a call to urgency, like that breath hurrying off to advance some other life.

The thought drew Gerald’s attention back to the man now cradled dead in his arms. Curiously, there was no expression on his face. The pain had shut his eyes. Aside from his dying exclamation, you’d have no idea as to whether he was shocked, surprised or horrified. There was no fatal wound. His heart had failed. The M.E. would determine if his other organs could be put to use.

Gerald was suddenly solemn as he straightened up on his knees. He had rushed in to assist a man whom he had seen falling. He was even unprepared to offer a word of comfort, once he realized that he had no help to give. And now, only moments later, the man is but a nameless corpse, and Gerald’s confidence in his own humanity is being challenged.

Gerald knew the Bible as a child, but had never acknowledged God as an adult. Was an after-life even tolerated by his grown-up thoughts? Had heaven been relegated to fantasy? Death can’t simply be feared as a reckoning for life. It must be met with a personal reconciliation with the joy of living despite the inevitable.

“WTF? Who could you eulogize?” Gerald now asked himself. His self-loathing was growing, as was the crowd approaching this scene of recent death.

“Step aside, I’m a doctor.” Gerald heard words and felt the press as the man was taken from his arms and he struggled to his feet.

The heaviness was unbearable. Gerald stood among the crowd with his head low. Today’s good deed had done him in. Reflective spasms caused the crowd to grunt and grown in synch with the doctor’s efforts. But, Gerald sought his own namelessness, trying to hide in the contours of the crowd, fearing notice if he attempted leaving. Time, sight and sound all became suspended.

“Sir, Sir!” Gerald looked at his arm, where he was being tugged by a short elderly lady.

“Yes”, he stammered in response.

“The doctor said that it was a good thing this man did not fall abruptly to the floor.” Her smile was so not what Gerald was feeling.

“What?”, Gerald asked, in total confusion.

“You saved his life”, the lady beamed at him, grabbed his shoulders, and kissed him on the cheek.

The flood of emotions could not keep pace with the tears. And, without the slightest embarrassment, Gerald looked up, saying, “Father forgive me. And, Thank You!”

500 words

Rebekah Postupak
4/30/2012 08:30:01 am

I don’t want to die, my darling. I don’t want to feel your loving grip around my neck again, don’t want to wake up crumpled against the wall where you tenderly threw me again.

Funny how a year ago, I couldn’t imagine living without you. You strode into my life, 6’2” of dark-haired Greek gorgeousness, and from the moment your eyes met mine, I belonged to you, heart and soul. Every word from your lips fell like diamonds.

“You should be tired; you’ve been running through my mind all day,” you said.

You said, “Are you from Tennessee? Because you’re the only Ten I See.”

“Was that an earthquake?” you said, “or did you just rock my world?”

I heard Shakespeare then. Now only terror rings in my ears.

I don’t want to die, but tonight one of us will, my love. And tonight—tonight, my Adonis, it’s not going to be me.

153 words

4/30/2012 10:41:51 am

I don't want to die, he thought, not from these God forsaken worms. The sisters were right, this was Armageddon. Good must prevail. As the blood red engorged sun set beyond the horizon it silhouetted what was left of the town he grew up in. Smoke billowed, and screams echoed through the hollow like racing winds on a spring day. But what could he do, he was just one kid. This was not something they taught in Home-Ec or Shop class. His only shot was to make it to his friend Tommy's house, his dad was a chemist. At least that's what he told people, but everyone knew he cooked meth. Still he was always good to Tommy and him, kept them out of trouble really. If he could get there his dad might be able to figure out what to do to stop these hideous creatures, plus they had lots of guns. He thought back on the last day or so. The dreams never prepared him for this, for all of this and the loss. He looked back down at his uncle's corpse, then screamed into the hills, I DON'T WANT TO DIE!

194 words

4/30/2012 12:24:50 pm

“I don’t want to die, James. Seriously.”

“But you don’t particularly want to live, either,” sounded in my ear. A beat of silence passed and then, “As is evidenced by your current predicament.”

“Your evidence is entirely circumstantial,” I said.

“Circumstances you voluntarily put yourself in time and again,” he replied with a crackle of static that might have been a smothered laugh. I wouldn’t put amusement over my situation past him. “Hence my conclusion that you harbor a death wish.”

I swore under my breath. I hated letting the cheeky bastard and his tony accent win the argument, but the timer kept ticking away, and I kept getting one second closer to dead.

Really dead.

And I still hadn’t gotten the damn cuffs off my wrists. I held the slim tool between my teeth and carefully worked it around the lock. Handcuff locks weren’t especially difficult, but the pressure was kinda getting to me.

“Admit it,” I said as I worked. “You’ll cry if I don’t make it out of this.”

“Yes. I suppose I will.” He seemed to catch his breath. “Should I be concerned?”

The cuffs alternately slipped or stuck to my sweaty wrists.

“Not yet.”

“How much time on the clock?” he asked.

I glanced up to the timer. “Forty-five,” I said around the lock pick.

“Oh, then. Plenty of time, sunshine. You had me worried over nothing.”

“Fuck you, pal.”

He laughed and the transmission exploded in static.

“Such ladylike language.”

The lock finally gave and I heaved a sigh of relief, careful not to drop the pick. I transferred it to my free hand and quickly undid the second lock.

Fifteen seconds.

“I don’t get hired for my language.”

I squirmed around, reaching for the locks blocking my exit.

Ten seconds.

The first two locks gave, the third stuck.

“Shit, shit, shit.”

“Rory?” The first note of real concern hit his voice.

“I got it, James. I—”

Huge blades sliced through the box as I slipped out to land on my feet, a shower of wood and metal falling just behind me.

“Ladies and Gentlemen,” the announcer boomed, “the incomparable escape artist, Aurora Danes!”

The audience roared its approval as I stood tall, arms lifted in victory. I bowed and waved, then trotted offstage, heart still pounding, a cocktail of adrenaline and relief charging my body. Strong arms lifted me into a fierce hug. With a giddy laugh, I held James close.

His hands framed my face, and I saw excitement and fear mixing in his eyes. Once, there’d been only excitement. The fear was new, but I understood the source. It struck me now, when it had never interfered with the game before.

“I love you,” he said, pressing a kiss to my damp temple.

“Love you back,” I whispered, welcoming the end of one adventure and the start of a new one.

481 words

Rebekah Postupak
5/1/2012 03:08:29 am

Love this--a beautiful balance of dialogue and action, awesome tension.

Bob Mahone
5/1/2012 08:28:30 am

I love love. Great story Cara.

4/30/2012 01:49:44 pm

“I don't want to die,” John said as he pounded the glass. Sorry, buddy, not a damn thing I can do about that, I thought to myself as I watched him slide down, his mouth opening and closing as he tried to get air. A few moments later I watched as his face turned a sickly shade of blue as the oxygen ran out in the chamber he’d been locked in. I guess he could still make it. The police were on their way even now.

It was a shame really. I mean it’s not like it was his fault. The company had installed the new vending machines to replace the old kitchen the EPA shut down for air quality issues. Can’t have hamburger grease fumes in the building dontchaknow! The new vending machines were supposed to be cleaner, and safer as well; all self-enclosed in smudge proof bullet proof glass, the various chambers self-locking to prevent a thief exiting without paying. Who knew that they were airproof as well? I mean just look at him, whoever thought of that feature was an idiot!

The way I figure it, John went into the selection chamber and picked out his food. Then he placed his selection on the tray and set it on the payment table. The automatic RFID reader notified him of the proper payment and he swiped his payment card. A few lights blinked and the door to the exit chamber opened and John went in. Then of course that door closed and the actual exit door was supposed to open. You see these new machines only let one person through at a time. Hell, even I have to admit they move you along pretty fast, in one chamber and out the next. Unless of course, something like this happens. Hell, I don’t know if he forget to check his balance or what, it is payday tomorrow after all. Whatever the reason the machines locked him in.

I can hear the sirens now but I just don’t think John’s gonna make it. Nope, not the way his tongue is hanging out like that. Too bad, really, he wasn’t a bad guy. I wish he'd have listened though. I told him that packaged food was bad for you. As for me I’ve gotta head back up to my desk. It’s almost my lunch hour and Velma packs me chicken sandwiches on Monday. If I’m lucky, she might even a’ cut some of that cantaloupe she bought at the farmer’s market the other day. Yep, eat healthy and pack a lunch, that’s my motto.

@dryadsgarden 433 words

Jake Wilkins
4/30/2012 04:03:36 pm

“I don’t want to die!” the man screamed.

Nick tightened the harness straps as the hoist pulled them toward the chopper.

“Be still and we’ll get you strapped in!” Nick shouted, exasperated.

The levees had broken along the river that morning and they had scrambled to call after call. It was noon and Nick’s arms and legs were burning, his voice hoarse from shouting. The crew was exhausted. There’d been time for only refueling with coffee handed to them on the run by relief workers as they dropped off each survivor at the shelter.

The crew members strapped in the frightened man and the pilot prepared to head back. Nick hoped this would be their last call and that relief would be waiting to take over. He leaned back, spent.
His eyes had barely closed when a strong tug at his shoulder jolted him. He tore a look at his spotter Janie. She was tugging his harness straps now, helping ready him for another drop.

“Three!” she shouted and held up three fingers followed by the thumbs down sign. Nick followed her point and gasped.

Below them was an older man and two children almost engulfed by water. The children clung to his neck as he braced himself, arms locked, against an oak tree. Nick was stunned that he had been able to hold on with so much force against his back.

As the chopper hovered Nick plunged toward them and decided to take both children in one trip. It was a risk but there was no way to bring them in one at a time and get the grandfather too. As he neared them he could see the old man’s arms trembling, willing himself to hold back the river.

Suddenly Nick was beside them. He shouted “I’ll take them together. Hand me the girl first, then the boy!”

The girl screamed, her nails scratching his face as she was ripped from her grandfather. Blood seeped for a second, immediately washed by spray. The boy was only slightly easier to pry loose, his eyes riveted to the older man, unsure whether he should stay or go.
Nick secured them and shouted to the older man, “I’ll get them up and come back for you!”

Arms trembling, the old man looked at him and gave him a slight smile, “No,” he shouted. “You won’t. Tell my wife that I love her. Tell her she was all I ever needed in this life.”

Nick locked eyes with the older man for a second and nodded before signaling the chopper to lift them.

As the crew hauled them in Nick desperately readied himself for another drop. Almost out the door Janie pulled him back. Furious, he spun only to find her shaking her head. Nick looked down at an empty span of angry water. The rest of the levee, the tree and the older man were gone. Nick slumped to the deck as the chopper headed back.
Below them the water roared.

499 Words

Kardin Kaye
4/30/2012 04:31:47 pm

"I don't want to die." She said it so softly he almost didn't hear her. He sat up. "You won't," he whispered, "not if you stay with me and do as I say." She nods.

Ryan slips the gun from her hand and places it on the nightstand. He didn't even hear her slip into his room and take it. She keeps her eye on the gun and tells him “I don’t even know how to use the thing. There’s a safety or something isn’t there?" It was an offering. An exchange for his answers to her questions. He smiled slightly. He knew they were safe with each other.

He lays back down on his mattress and she sits beside him. He screams inside his head at her: "Ask me!! You already know the answers! Ask me the questions - I'll tell you the truth!"

She takes a short breath and finally asks: “You were in the helicopter that day, weren’t you?” She seemed as angry as she was confused. But she was smart, he knew she could figure out who and what he was without actually having to tell her. He wasn’t allowed to tell anyone, but what if she figured it out on her own? He’d never met anyone as smart as she was, maybe she could figure it out without him saying it. He wanted her to know. He needed her to know.

He lets her continue: “You were in the helicopter. You were a soldier. I remember your face.” She'd seen it in her nightmares for years. She wasn’t asking anymore, she knew it was true. He kept looking in her eyes. If he didn’t say anything she might continue her train of thought.

“I was 12 years old, and that was twenty years ago. You saved me from that fire. But you haven’t changed at all! You haven’t aged a single year! How old are you?” The words ran out of her mouth, fighting the logic of her brain. “How old are you, Ryan?” she demanded, she was loosing her patience. “I’m 38.” He replies, trying to remain calm.

"She's almost got it." he thinks to himself.

“How old were you when we were in the helicopter?” She breathed in a small gasp, like she was going to cry. “When I was 12, how old were you?”


She lifted her chin, just slightly. "You're not here to kill me?" she asked. He tried not to blink and said as calmly as he could "No, I'm here to save you. I have always been here to save you. Just like that day in the helicoptor. You just need to stay with me and do as I say."

4/30/2012 11:06:34 pm

Words of Value

“I don’t want to die.” There was a small quaver in his voice. The ropes were wound around the man pretty tight so there wasn’t much room to shift in the chair.

It was really sad how a man who blustered on about how tough they were turned into the biggest babies when confronted with something that they couldn’t strong arm their way out of a difficult situation.

Berk sat down in the chair and stared at the man. He was one of many who lived in the village. A village that he didn’t even bother with. “Then why did you come into my home? And don’t say because it’s because you could.” He sighed. “So many people give that stupid excuse. I have a fence around the property. A fence that you have to find a tree high enough to get over. I don’t bother anyone. No people or livestock go missing. And yet, everyone sees fit to bother me.”

“But the treasure…” the man sunk further into his chair when Berk turned his head to stare at him.

“Really? That’s what it was all about? Some stupid story that some idiot saw fit to start. There IS no treasure. No secret hoard of coins or gems. Just books and dusty old furniture.”

“I p-promise. I’ll go and tell everyone. I swear. Just please let me go.”

It was cute, the man looking so hopeful that he would get out of a bad situation.

Berk gave a smile and got up. They thought he was just a wimp, because he was so small. It wasn’t his fault that he was lucky to reach five foot. He threw a glance at the mirror. The mop of blonde hair that kept falling into his eyes and, the wire spectacles that made his eyes bigger than they were and a thin frame that would be lucky to be able to move half the furniture in the old home.

“I’m afraid I can’t do that.” He grinned, teeth needle sharp against his lips. “Apparently an example needs to be made and you’re the one who will be helping me make it. I have been too nice in my old age. I need to remind people to keep out of where they don’t belong.”

Berk had to admit that he enjoyed the rush of fear that rolled off the man as he twisted against his bindings. It made him more hungry. A long, thin tongue came out and swiped his lips as he leaned over the man.

“No, no, NO! Please, please! I don’t want to die, I do-“

The man let out a scream as Berk’s teeth sunk into his throat like a ripe apple. It had been too long since he had feasted on a fresh kill. He gorged himself before pulling back from the body, using his sleeve to wipe his face.

His books were still safe. The time and money he spent on stocking his library was worth it all.

500 words

Rebekah Postupak
4/30/2012 11:27:10 pm

(Entry # 2, because apparently I'm inspired by not wanting to die.)

“I don’t want to die.”

“Well, don’t then.”

A shrug. “You make it sound so easy. I’ll plead my case, but the decision’s already been made. I don’t stand a chance.”

“Stranger things have happened.”


“To you, even.”

Another shrug. “This is different.”

“How? You’ve faced this before. Countless times, in fact. And weren’t you let off each time? It’s all worked out fine.”

“It wasn’t quite like that. Not then; not now.”

“Not exactly, but close enough. Admit it.”

“It’s not like life ever went back to normal. I… I lost a piece of myself, somehow. Pieces.”

“You sound ungrateful.”

“I’m not ungrateful. Just—prosaic. You might even say ‘unromantic.’”

“How dull. You, of all people! You should be more romantic than anyone. In fact, perhaps you should deliver your plea as a sonnet.”

“There’s a fine line between romance and insanity.”

“The line is even finer than you think. It’s gossamer. A wisp, floating on the breeze.”

“All the more reason to avoid both.”

“Look at you—you’re trembling.”

“I can’t help it.”

“You really are afraid this time, aren’t you? I don’t get it. Why?”

“I told you: I don’t want to die.”

“It will be all right. You’ll see.”

“Each time there’s less of me. What if this time he takes everything?”

“You’ll be okay. You always are.”

“But what if I’m not? What if this time is the end?”

And the dying Persephone wept, as her friend looked on, helpless.

246 words

5/1/2012 01:13:18 am

I don’t want to die in this hell hole.

I don’t want to know that my entire life, all 37 years on this earth, have amounted to this place. My own personal hell on earth. My purgatory.

I had dreams once. I had visions of moving to the top. Visions of biding my time as I slowly made my way up and up the ladder of success.

I’m still in the goddamned mail room. I’m a 37 year old mail clerk, delivering mail to the masses of rich assholes who don’t even know my name. I’ve delivered their mail for 18 years.

I’m that guy.

It’s December 21st so ...

The end of the world.

I toyed with not even showing up today. Calling in sick.
Who cares, right? I mean, it’s the end of the freaking world. No one will even exist after today.

But then I thought, ‘Maybe Sharon will be there.’ So I came in to work.

She called in sick.

That’s the cosmic joke of my life, summed up in a simple day at work. Figures.

It’s only fitting that I’ll die here.

187 words

Ryan Strohman
5/1/2012 01:37:01 am

“I don’t want to die,” Troy screamed as he hung hundreds of feet above the cavernous valley floor. He was losing his grip on the steel reinforcement bars, their jagged metal edges ripping into the meaty flesh in his hands and fingers.

“Well then just think of yourself as a larva, ready to enter the next stage in your existence.”

He grimaced at the caustic tone of the brutish man standing on the bridge above him.

“Look,” he pleaded, “I have money. I’ll give you ten grand if you let me live.”

The man’s eyebrows raised, as if the statement piqued his curiosity. “Make it a hundred, and we have a deal.”

Troy nodded, but the man didn’t budge.

“Wow, you have a hundred thousand dollars at your disposal? I’m impressed.”

The man’s tone was so sarcastic that it nearly stung more than the blistering metal digging into Troy’s hand.

“OK, so you don’t want money? What do you want? Women? Power? I have it all. I’ll give you whatever you want.”

The beast above him began to chuckle as he lowered himself into a crouch.

“Troy,” he chided, “I don’t want anything you have to give me. That’s the problem with this world. Everybody thinks that everyone else has a price. People like you think that people like me can be bought and sold, that we are just pawns in your schemes. Sometimes, though, the pawns win the game.”

Troy felt himself beginning to slip. The blood seeping from his palm and fingers was making the metal slippery.

“OK, OK. I get it! You want revenge! I’m sorry! Whatever I did to wrong you, I’m sorry!”

“You did nothing to wrong me, Troy. I’ve never worked for you. I’ve never been a client or vendor that you cheated. Honestly, I looked you up in a business directory.”

“So what do you want?” Troy pleaded, tears streaming down his face.

“Honestly, I wanted to watch you die. But now I’m thinking something else. Tomorrow, you resign from your position at the bank. You then take the majority of your money and donate it to whatever charities you wish. You sell your ritzy house, your fancy cars, and you move into a house that costs no more than a hundred thousand dollars. When you are finished, you will have twenty-five thousand dollars left to live off of for the year. You then get a job at a grocery store packing bags. If you agree to do all of that, then I will let you live.”

Troy began to whimper, but as he felt his hand slip a little more, he screamed, “Yes, yes!”

The huge man pulled him up and handed him a cloth for his hand. “I’ll be following up with you. If you haven’t done what I’ve asked…”

“I will! I promise!”

Three weeks later, the newspaper headline read, “Body of Troy Reasoner, CEO of First Community Bank, Found in Gorge.”

492 words

5/1/2012 01:39:05 am

I do not want to die.

I know that most would tell me I am dead already but that is merely an illusion. I am still alive, just different.

What have I done that I should draw the ire of others to such an extent that they would have me banished? Destroyed? Truly dead?

Providing comfort. That is my sin. But as a mother, I had no choice. With each wailing crescendo my heart was breaking. I did nothing more than comfort the infant and in so doing sealed my own fate. I should have been quicker. I should have known better. But the child was alone. The mother? She somewhere getting high and the child was all alone in the crib. I should have left before the mother returned but love is sometimes a cruel master. I simply could not turn away. I stayed by the child pouring out my love in hopes of at least setting another one the right path.

So many do not understand that our physical bodies are merely a larval stage. We are designed to feed, to fuel the growth for which we are intended. Sadly, too many of us do not realize this until it is too late.

And now it is too late for me. Although I now understand how it was supposed to be, what I was supposed to be doing with my life, I have missed my chance.

Now they are coming to kill me.

----------- ---------- --------

The two men stood on the front porch. David stepped forward and rang the door bell. A young woman answered the door.

“Ms. Johnson?” David said .

“Yes,” the young woman replied through the screen door.

“We're with the local paranormal society. My name is David Tims and my associate,” he indicated the older man at his side, “is Father Thomas Martin.”

“Actually,” Father Martin said, “I am no longer technically a priest, but my friends continue to call me Father. Please call me Thomas.”

“Oh my god!” the young woman began. “I am so glad to see you two. I wasn't at all sure that you would actually show up! Come in, come in.”

David and Thomas stepped inside.

“You said that you had an entity?” David said.

“Oh yes,” the young woman replied. “And I want her gone! She is evil. I can feel it.”

“You say, 'she'. How did you determine that it was a female?”

“I saw her. She was standing right next to the baby's crib. I had just come back... uh, woken up from a nap.” Her face flushed as she spoke. “I had just come back from the living room, yeah, and there she was. She was leaning over the baby doing God only knows what. You can get rid of her, can't you?”

Thee two men looked at each other, hesitating before responding.

“Yes,” David replied, “we can.”

500 words

5/1/2012 01:40:26 am

Ugh. Would you please change the opening line to read, "I don't want to die"? Thanks,



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