Drummond stared morosely out the window. Three more hours, and he was done with his shift. Make that three hours and four minutes. Was time moving backwards? It certainly felt like it. How much longer did he have to slave away at these peon posts before he finally got the promotion he deserved?
There was nothing for it. He was going to have finish the pile in front of him, at least. He had to look like he did something today, after all. He reached for the folder on the top.
DANIEL. SON OF JEFFREY AND HEATHER. DEFECTS: LAZY EYE, WILL CLEAR UP BY AGE 7. THREE BROKEN TOES, AGE 26. LUNG CANCER, AGE 68.
HAYLEE. DAUGHTER OF ANGELA AND DEREK. DEFECTS: SPINAL BIFIDA, SEVERE. NERVOUS SYSTEM DISORDER, HEART VALVE PROBLEMS, ALL < 11 MONTHS.
MIRIAM. DAUGHTER OF DEBORAH AND MOSHE. DEFECTS: RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS MANIFESTING AT 16, PROLAPSED UTERUS, AGE 43, CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE, PROGRESSIVE, MANIFESTING AGE 46.
Blah blahblah blahblah. So what.
He glanced up at the wall, and the clock seemed to be frozen. He knew he just looked at it, but he couldn’t have just looked at it. Could he? Damn.
Blah blah obsessive compulsive, blah blah, color blind, blah blah muscular dystrophy and blah and blah and blah. He began randomly shoving papers from a file behind his desk into the folders, determined to just get it done.
They’d been in the car for hours. Carly woke to the smell of eggs, and her tummy rumbled. She’d been dozing off and on in the back seat, under her favorite Dora blanket because the air conditioning made the car so cold. She rubbed her eyes, calling out.
“Oh, sweetie…you’re awake. Are you hungry?”
“Do you want some of this?”
Mom gestured to the Tupperware container on the console between the front seats. Hard boiled eggs and cold fried chicken. Every long road trip, they were the staples. And every long road trip, Carly’s answer was the same.
Mom sighed. “I didn’t think so,” she said. Then she reached between her legs on the floor and pulled out a small, hot pink lunch bag. “There’s a peanut butter sandwich in here for you. Here, take it.”
Carly leaned forward to grab it, her eyes taking in the dry, flat land and endless brush on the sides of the road. That’s when she saw it.
“Dad! Watch out!!!” Continue reading
[This was short story I wrote a few years ago for a competition – and for fun, as well]
If only she would stop screaming.
You’d think the crowd would drown her out – their jeering and cheering feeding off her screams like a frenzy of wild animals ripping at a carcass. That kind of unholy shrieking cuts right to the bone and you feel it as much as you hear it. Soon, the screams became weaker. Either she’d lost her voice for the screaming, or the life was finally, mercifully fading from her. Either way, she was growing silent, and the crowd was getting bored. Soon, they would be restless and the cycle would start again, whipping into a frenzy as the tortured screams peeled a track down your spine.
Eve was next.
The guard yanked her up by the thick rope binding her wrists, pulling her along as the crowd began to buzz behind her, coming to life again. They stopped abruptly in front of the magistrate, a portly man with a contemptuous demeanor, who obviously thought himself some sort of demi-god. He gave the papers in his hand a cursory glance.
“Goody Brubaker? Are you aware of the charges laid against you this day?”
She had just finished loading the dishwasher when she felt it.
Just the slightest trickling of unease. Barely there. Nothing, really. Silly.
She wiped the countertops down with the sponge, squeezing out the remaining suds and putting it back in the dish near the sink. She glanced at the clock – 11:45. She really should get to bed. Marcus would have her head if she was late to the briefing. Thank God the nanny agreed to come at 6am. An early meeting was a necessity, since they had to conference with their counterparts in Sydney. Things were getting out of hand.
11:50. She really needed to get some sleep.
She turned out the kitchen light, heading into the sitting room where toys and pillows still lay scattered. She bent to pick up a stray paper that had fallen off the end table, and found herself frozen by the image on the paper. Incongruously colored in crayola, the landscape was terrifying. Stark trees, and a littering of bones on the ground. A man, half in shadows, behind the trees. The picture was vivid – too vivid for a seven year old.
There it was again.
Silly. It’s just the picture putting you off. That’s all.
That wasn’t all. Continue reading