Short Stories

The New Guy
Short Stories

The New Guy

Monday surveyed the room with suspicion as he sipped his morning coffee.

“Hey. Who’s that guy?”

“What guy?” Wednesday asked.

“Over there, the one everybody’s talking to.” Monday pointed across the room to a man in jeans and a t-shirt leaning against the water cooler.

“Oh, the new guy.”

“New guy? Why haven’t I seen him before?”

“I don’t know,” Wednesday said. “He’s not here much. Comes in late, leaves early. You know how it is.”

“No,” said Monday. “I don’t, actually. What’s his name?”

“Friday.”

Read the full story on LitUp.

Digging Up Bones
Short Stories

Digging Up Bones

DANGER

DO NOT ENTER

Normally, the stenciled warnings nailed to every other tree would have sent Nathan Shields walking away. Not tonight. Behind him, his Toyota stood guard on the shoulder of the road. Shouldn’t he hide it somewhere? He pulled his phone from his pocket and cursed. No time.

He was late, but that was hardly his fault.

“Hurry,” Kevin had said. “And bring a shovel.”

“Right now? It’s a four-hour drive.” After a long day of babysitting middle-school musicians, Nathan wanted to veg on his couch, maybe get lost in a little Bob Ross or “I Love Lucy.” No more true crime dramas, though. Those were starting to freak him out. He was convinced half the kids in his fifth-period ensemble were serial killers in a state of incubation. And not just the drummers and tuba players. That was the problem with serial killers, they were the ones you’d least expect.

“It’s more like four-and-a-half,” Kevin had said. “And take the back road. There’s a game tonight. Cops will be everywhere. Remember, you owe me.”

Read the full story at Mystery Weekly or pick up their November 2019 issue on Amazon.

Intelligent Life
Short Stories

Intelligent Life

Neil was coloring around the coffee stains on a worn manila folder when Harold shouted his name.

“Anderson. Get in here.”

Dropping the pen, Neil sighed and rose from his chair, not yet warm at 8:15 AM. He counted the floor tiles en route to the corner office. The number never changed, but the walk seemed longer each time he made it.

“Morning, Harold,” Neil said as he walked in.

“Where are we on P732?” a lanky man asked with a growl honed by years of cigarettes and chronic post-nasal drip. “Bill in Environmental just told me they finished their work on it two weeks ago.”

“I know,” Neil said. “I have their numbers.”

“So, what’s the problem?” Harold sneezed into a handkerchief, which he folded and drug across his nose once more before placing it back in his pocket. “I mean, it’s a simple assessment, Neil. I’m not asking you to cure syphilis.” He stood abruptly and began to pace.

The way Harold buried his hands in his pockets as he walked around the room, Neil wondered if his boss might actually need that cure. Eradicating an STD was probably easier than delivering that report. There was nothing simple about it.

Read the full story on Reesdy.

Road Trip
Short Stories

Road Trip

“Rerouting,” Siri said for the third time.

“Honey, why don’t you just do what she says?”

Rick glared at his wife. “No. I’m not getting us lost because some nerd in Cupertino thinks he knows the backroads of Escambia County better than I do.”

“But we are lost,” Patti said.

“We are not lost.” Rick turned off the GPS. He had listened to the persistent droning of female voices since Nashville and was tired of it. At least he could put Siri in silent mode. “Once we drop Uncle Glenn in Brewton, it’s a straight shot to your sister’s house.” He pointed to the digital clock in the dash. “See? It’s not even midnight. We’re making great time. We just need to find some gas soon. That’s all.”

Read the full story on Lit Up.

Falling
Short Stories

Falling

The old man sat alone on the bench and watched the family from a distance. Four of them picnicked in the center of the park, beneath a massive oak near a playground and a pond. The father’s tie hung loosely around his neck. His leather loafers and dress socks sat discarded on a nearby quilt. A shirttail escaped the back of his slacks as he ran barefoot through the grass and tackled a boy holding a football. A toddler in a princess dress cheered them on, her red curls bouncing as she jumped up and down.

Clouds were coming. Maybe rain. The old man felt it in his hands and knees. Across the lawn, the father chased his children, unaware of the weather ahead. In the shadow of the oak, the mother looked on and laughed, at least on the outside. The old man imagined her hidden tears as she wondered how on earth she would tell them about the tumor and the treatment and the time she might have left . . .

Read the full story at Literally Literary.

Catch a Falling Star
Short Stories

Catch a Falling Star

“How long did he lay there before they found him?”

Wynn surveyed the shelves on aisle three and listened to the excited chatter at the front of the store. He found the potted meat and scooped three cans into his basket.

“About a week,” one of them said.

“Guess it was the smell that gave him away?”

“I imagine so. That poor man started wasting away three years ago, though. Don’t have to be dead to decompose . . .”

Read the full story at Reedsy.

Rose
Short Stories

Rose

“Did you get it?” Loraine asked. “You did bring it, didn’t you?”

Before Donald could lock the car, his wife walked three steps ahead. For a seventy-year old woman with lumbago, she was moving. “Yes, I brought the rose, dear.” He tried not to ruin the moment by sounding exasperated. “You only reminded me three times before we left.” Maybe he should try a little harder, he thought. “Honey, do you even know where you’re going?”

“Well,” she said, looking around. “I thought we’d follow the crowd.”

“I don’t see any crowd. Just that man over there in the booth.”

“And we both know you’re not going to ask him for directions.” Loraine approached a man in a faded blue uniform. “Excuse me, sir. Do you know where we could find –”

“In the back,” the man said, before she could finish.

“But you don’t even know what I — ,”

“Sure I do,” the guard interrupted again, his words muffled by the Louis L’Amour paperback that hid half his face like an outlaw bandana. “Same as everybody else.” He looked up and pointed a fat finger past the gate. “She’s at the end of this row. Just around the corner.” He resumed reading, officially ending the conversation.

“Thank you very much,” Loraine said without a hint of irritation. She called back to her husband. “This way, Donald.” After a few steps, she stopped and allowed him to catch up. “Well, he was nice . . .”

Read the full story at Reedsy.

Burning the Midnight Oil
Short Stories

Burning the Midnight Oil

This was a contest entry where the entire story is from the villain’s point of view. This is darker than other stories I’ve written. Readers beware.

The man lifted the bottle to his lips, but all he drank was disappointment. It was full when he brought it home. So was the light in the front window. Now, he held an empty bottle and looked out at the darkness.

His bones ached. The day was done, but the toll it took on his body lasted all night. The air around him reeked, a fetid stench of struggle and futility. Nothing stunk like a man’s sweat mixed with dirt he didn’t own. That’s how he knew he wasn’t drunk enough. He could still smell himself over the whiskey . . .

Read the whole story at The Creative Cafe.

Altar Ego
Short Stories

Altar Ego

Behind every joke a preacher tells is a story he’s trying to forget. This is that story.


“So you’re not going to tell her?” Bentley asked.

Vernon studied himself in the mirror, tilting his head from side to side. “Bentley,” he said. “I’m tired of talking. I mean to do it this time.” He looked away from the mirror and into the eyes of his co-conspirator. A thick index finger emphasized his point. “And she can’t stop me.”

Bentley sighed. “Okay. When?”

“First thing Friday morning, when she leaves for her sister’s house. My appointment is at ten.”

“How long will she be gone?”

“Till sometime on Tuesday, plenty of time.”

“And you’re sure you want to go through with this?” Bentley asked, not for the first time. “Is it really necessary?”

Without answering, Reverend Vernon Vanderwalker returned his attention to the mirror. Not bad for fifty-four. Sure, he was a little beefy around the edges. But that wasn’t what bothered him. His biggest problem, the proverbial thorn in his side, was the desolate plain where his hair once dwelled. Maybe it was from age or stress. Maybe it was a tragic case of heredity. Regardless, Vernon’s head was both naked and ashamed. He thought of the Old Testament and how the sins of the fathers visited themselves upon the future generations and wondered. What kind of mess did my Daddy get himself into?

“It’s necessary,” he said.

Read the whole story at Lit Up.